Most people don’t like cloudy days. When the sun isn’t shining, people tend to get cranky. A sunshiny day makes people happy and less stressful.
In the technology world, however, clouds are actually a good thing. “Cloud computing” is the latest opportunity in computing, and you should be taking advantage of it. Perhaps you already are in some application in your business.
According to Wikipedia, “cloud computing is Web-based processing, whereby shared resources, software and information are provided to computers and other devices (such as smartphones) on demand over the Internet.”
What does that mean to you and your business? It opens up lots of opportunities for you in so many ways. Take your basic business software, for example. You would no longer need to have that software and data sitting on a machine in your office just waiting for a disaster to happen. Your business data would be available to you anytime, anywhere as long as you have Internet access and a browser. And it would be safe and backed up.
Applications are all going the way of cloud computing. Sales force automation and Customer Resource Management (CRM) are both available via cloud computing. Your entire sales force, regardless of where they reside, can get at any and all data relating to customers via the Internet.
So when one rep makes a change to the customer data, it’s available immediately to everyone in your company that has access to the sales force and/or CRM applications.
Cloud computing is being used for video surveillance, as well. Old technology required the use of video recording devices at the shops or warehouses. Someone had to manually change the tapes or CDs all the time.
With cloud computing, video surveillance is taken to new heights. You still need cameras, but they are connected to the Internet and the recording is done in the “cloud.” You can manage all your locations (even delivery trucks) from one place — and that place is wherever you are when you want to take a look.
You “connect” to the recorded videos or live feeds from any computer you log into with a browser and Internet connectivity. The “manual” intervention with tapes and CDs goes away. Storage is all being done in the cloud.
Head in the clouds
Let’s take a closer look at putting your business software in the cloud. First, let’s look at the alternative to cloud computing: hosting your application on computers at your business. This means the programs that run your business as well as all the data reside on computers in your stores. Here are a few of the cons to in-house solutions.
• You are responsible for the computers that operate your business. As they become obsolete, you must replace them. As they become slow or disk storage runs out, you must increase the power of the machine or add disk storage. Should you have hardware malfunctions, you need to address the problem. When it’s time to receive a software update to fix bugs or get new features, you must take down the system. All of these result in downtime for your business software.
• You need to make sure you are backing up your data every day, including providing for a safe off-site storage plan. More time, more money.
The alternative is to place your business software and data in the hands of a secure data center, typically provided by your software provider. This cloud computing concept eliminates your concern with hardware malfunctions, obsolete technology, software updates, disk storage and data backup. All this is taken care of for you “auto-magically.”
Another thing to consider when going the cloud route includes: Make sure you have ownership of your data and an easy method to retrieve your data should you decide to move it somewhere else. Reliability of your Internet connection also is paramount to a high up-time. Remember, you are relying on operating your business from the cloud, so high availability is a must.
The service provider will make sure they have computers and backups, uninterrupted power and Internet connections, but you have to make sure you can get to the Internet from your locations. In addition to installing reputable, high-availability Internet services, you can install redundant or backup systems in the event you have an Internet problem.
Cloud computing can take many of the technology headaches out of your workplace. If you want to understand more about cloud computing and how you can take advantage of it in so many ways in your business, give us a call. We can help you figure out the best ways for you to utilize this great technology in your world.
So the next time you look up at the clouds, look real hard, you might just see your business in there.
As CEO and president of WECnology LLC (www.wecnology.com), Wayne Croswell is a “complimentary technology advisor” for independent tire dealers. Croswell can be reached at [email protected] or (603) 249-5530.