Embracing the Cloud for Your Small Business


What is the cloud?  By now I’m sure you have heard of cloud computing, however, many are unaware of how the cloud works and how it can help your small business. In this blog, we’ll break down the cloud, step by step, and show you how the cloud can benefit you.  For an example, we will use John Smith’s Website Design Company.

So, what is the cloud?

The cloud refers to a group of servers and/or networks that are hosted and operated remotely.

John Smith’s Website Design Company uses the cloud.  John has 20 employees working full time to provide over 200 clients with websites.  John needs a lot of computing power, not to mention constant updates to the software he uses and secure storage for his company’s website designs and client information.  Rather than build a secure server room and have an IT specialist on hand or on call, John saves money by cloud computing.  He accesses his server online and when he and his team save information, that information is relayed, over the Internet, to this remote server.

This many sound familiar to you.  If you have saved or shared documents and photos using applications such as OneDrive or Dropbox, you have engaged in cloud computing.

Is it scalable?

When John started his business, he operated it by himself out of his basement. To test his skills, he created free websites for friends and family and he stored his information and files on a public cloud. Public clouds are often free, but some charge a small fee.  As an emerging business, this public cloud was perfect for John’s needs.

As John’s company grew, so did his need for storage and security.  John switched to a hybrid cloud as he business needs grew.  The hybrid cloud cost money, but it was well worth it for John. The hybrid cloud uses a combination of public and private cloud applications.  John used the private application to store his client’s credit card numbers, since he needs to run them monthly to pay for things like hosting fees and website maintenance.   He used the public application to house his client’s mock ups and templates, giving each client a log in and password so he and his team could collaborate remotely with clients as their projects progressed.

When John’s company continued to expand, he switched to a private cloud.  John’s private cloud is used by exclusively by his company and houses all of his web creation software, sensitive client information and projects.  His private cloud also houses his company’s accounting software, HR management software, and backs up all the digital information produced by his company, such as emails and other correspondence.

Are clouds safe?

While no Internet-based computer application can be guaranteed to be 100 per cent safe, remote server providers ensure a very high level of security for public, hybrid and private clouds. Private clouds are the safest as you have a greater deal of influence over the applications and security of your cloud.

Cloud computing can be safer than having an on-site server.  Many remote servers are housed in data centres that are specially designed to withstand natural disasters, fire, flooding and theft, not to mention digital security measures to protect your data.

John saves money by not having to build a fire/element/theft-deterrent room to house his server. He saves even more by not having to take care of software downloads or server upgrades.  Those are handled by his cloud service provider, ensuring he always has the latest software, upgrades and most secure system for his business.

Is the cloud right for you?

John’s Website Design Company is a fictional example to show you how small businesses can use the cloud.  The cloud benefits any business in any industry whether they opt to use it for collaboration with clients, digital storage, or as a full remote server for the entire business operations.  The cloud is a secure, cost-effective, scalable option that can completely replace the need to purchase a server, build a server room, and hire in-house IT professionals.

The cloud is the next evolution of smart business management.  Don’t get left behind. Embrace the cloud and embrace a stronger, more efficient small business.

The AF Accounting advantage

Xero is a cloud-based accounting solution for your business. AF Accounting can administer Xero on your behalf, saving you time, money and resources.  Contact us to learn how cloud accounting can work for you.

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