You use the cloud and may not even know it. Do you go to Amazon and create a wish list? Do you have an email account on Yahoo? That is cloud computing. All your emails are stored on Yahoo servers somewhere. They are on physical servers, of course, but they aren't on your laptop. The advantage is that when you spill your coffee onto the laptop keyboard, you haven't lost all your emails even if you never backed up your hard drive. (If you haven't, contact us. We have automated solutions!)
Here is a simple analogy to explain how the cloud works and why it might be a very useful part of your business model. Picture the small, very cramped office space of a little start-up. You and a few coworkers sit in tight quarters with messy desktops buried in mounds of papers, files, and pizza boxes. There is absolutely no room for storage. It will be a long time until you can afford a larger office space. Your building manager offers to rent you an empty file cabinet in the basement. Although the basement space is shared with other tenants, only you and your team have keys to this locked cabinet where you will store all those piles of paper. Your rent is relatively cheap compared to other tenants, since you're only paying for the cabinet, and not the larger lockers they have leased.
Suddenly, those once covered desktops are clean, leaving space to work. More importantly, the papers are all nearby, each of you has a key, but they are safe from everyone else in the building or outside. They are also safe from spilled coffee and pizza crumbs. You've avoided the dramatic jump in fixed costs required to find bigger office space, when all you needed were several feet of filing cabinets. Even better, the money saved is put back into the core goal of providing a product or service to a customer.
The cloud does the same thing. You rent only the space you need. If you chose your solution wisely, it is safer from hackers than your on-site server if you don’t have the skills needed to keep it secure. Your data should be secure from thieves, and protected from physical damage of spills and bumps. Unlike the rest of us, cloud service providers don't have coffee cups near their keyboards or forget to do monthly backups. However, you should ensure that your cloud provider does maintain your data securely by managing their systems. The best will identify how they protect your data with such things as replication, physical access limitation and monitoring. Understand that backup and recovery of cloud data is often an add-on should you or one of your employees accidently delete files. In short, the cloud provides scalable storage without large incremental leaps in fixed costs you really can't afford. There are services to meet all manner of needs and many are cost savers for small business. If you are exploring options for your business, we are glad to help you sort through solutions to find the best options.