What is this mysterious “cloud” I hear so much about?
The cloud is essentially just a fancy name for the internet, but often refers to the idea of file storage, computer software or various infrastructures that run directly online. The benefits of using cloud computing are simple – no applications to install locally so minimal maintenance, the option to work from any location, and the ability create and share documents anywhere from any connected device.
It’s quite possible that you use some sort of cloud computing whenever you browse the web these days. Facebook, web-based email like Hotmail or Gmail, YouTube and Dropbox are all examples of how cloud computing works. You might also use what’s called Software as a Service in your workplace – online applications such as a CRM program or document/spreadsheet creation and sharing with Microsoft Office 365 or Google Drive.
Can Software as a Service (Saas) cloud computing be useful to my business?
Absolutely. Many companies are seeing the benefits that SaaS cloud computing can offer them. This is particularly the case for smaller or medium sized organisations which don’t require increasingly complex IT solutions to power their business. Some of the main reasons why companies choose SaaS over traditional software include:
- Cheap – SaaS applications are usually available in a subscription model. This makes the initial investment low with no large upfront costs, as well as an option to try out any alternatives until you find the right fit for you.
- Quick – Because there is no infrastructure to set up locally, you can be up and running on SaaS solutions instantly with just a web browser.
- Work anywhere – When your software can be accessed with any browser, you can work from any location. This makes it easy for people to share work from multiple sites or from home without being restricted to specific hardware.
- Fully managed – All SaaS solutions are managed by the vendor themselves which means high levels of support, easy upgrades and scalability, plus the option to restore from an automatically saved backup in case of a business premises disaster.
What SaaS cloud computing solutions can I use right now?
If you are keen to embrace the era of cloud computing, there are many free and paid cloud computing examples that you can use to help increase your workflow and efficiency.
It was way back in 2006 when Google first introduced their simple online word processor as an alternative to the dominant Microsoft Word. The main feature was that the documents you create are stored in the cloud, accessible from anywhere and finally relegating to history that moment of panic when your computer would crash and you realise you hadn’t saved an important document! Since then, Google has also released similar spreadsheet and presentation software to match the applications offered by Microsoft’s own Office suite. With the integration to Google’s online file storage solution Google Drive, documents can be shared and worked on collaboratively with anyone using a Google account. This makes it a fantastic tool for project work as everyone can work on the same document at the same time!
Check out Google Drive
Microsoft Office 365
Google must be doing something right with Google Docs and Drive, as shown by the relatively recent release of Microsoft’s competing Office 365 – a sort of spiritual successor to the previous versions of MS Office. Like Google, it offers online storage, backup and sharing, but it does come at a price for the additional Microsoft features which is currently a subscription model starting at £39.60 per year for a single business user.
Check out Microsoft Office 365
Do you often find yourself with increasingly larger sized files that you need to send over to colleagues? Whether photos, design work or complex spreadsheets, the file size limitation of most email providers means you can’t just attach a large file and send it over. Online file storage solutions such as Dropbox offer just that – online storage of all types of digital files that can be shared with others. Dropbox offer 2GB for free when you sign up – much better than the 25MB limit for email!
Check out Dropbox
There are an endless variety of cloud based SaaS solutions that can help to improve your business. Here at OfficeTeam, cloud computing powers our email, website management tools, project management and our CRM software. We certainly don’t intend to turn back any time soon…