Today it seems the Cloud is where it’s at: Microsoft, Google, Amazon and a host of other companies provide Cloud storage solutions, but are they just for consumers or should businesses be moving documents and data into the Cloud? In most cases, the answer is yes, especially for smaller businesses. Small businesses can benefit greatly from using low cost cloud storage for their documents and files.
For smaller businesses, maintaining a file server and properly monitoring and maintaining backups can be a major pain point. Moving to the cloud can help relieve the burden by providing your business with a secure location to store documents that has the added benefit of enterprise level backup and maintenance. For example, Google Drive has plans starting at $2.49/month for 25GB of storage. You get the power of Google’s always-up network and the flexibility of the Cloud, allowing you to work from anywhere.
So what’s the catch? Well the only real catch is learning to think a little differently about how you save and share your documents. Most cloud storage providers provide apps that sync a folder on your local machine with the Cloud, making this transition a little easier. With services like Dropbox, folders shared with you from other people also show up in your synced folder. On the other side of that coin, Microsoft SkyDrive relies more on an Internet-based interface to allow access to documents shared with you. The real treat is being able to save files opened in Word and other Office applications directly back to the Cloud when using a service like SkyDrive.
All of the services I have mentioned so far work well for small numbers of people, but what if your organization is larger and you need to be able to have better control over multiple users and security settings? Take a look at what Office365 from Microsoft has to offer (http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/office365/compare-plans.aspx). For as low as $6/user per month you can get full featured control over access to file sharing and storage using team sites from SharePoint Server. In addition to that, you also get hosted enterprise email using Microsoft Exchange Server, shared calendars, email antivirus, enterprise instant messaging, and video conferencing.
The Cloud is where it’s at; it’s where everything is. Almost everything your business needs can be migrated to the Cloud. Even many applications like QuickBooks, Word, and Excel can now operate entirely in the Cloud with no software to install on your local machine. In today’s Cloud-centric, application-driven world, flexibility and mobility are king, and all you need is an internet connection.