Cloud Solutions for Small Business

Twenty of the top cloud services for small business and some information on cloud computing for the SMB.

SMB Toolkit: 20 Top Cloud Services for <strong><a href=Small Businesses (update)" width="180" height="180">

OB Roundup

Cloud computing has proven a boon to businesses—especially small businesses, for which it hits a particularly sweet spot. With cloud services, small businesses reap the benefits of not having to deploy physical infrastructure like file and e-mail servers, storage systems or shrink-wrapped software. Plus, the "anywhere, anytime" availability of these solutions, means hassle-free collaboration among business partners and employees using the ubiquitous browser. Cloud services also provide entrepreneurs, SOHOs, and mom-and-pop outfits access to sophisticated technology without the need of an IT consultant or tech worker on the payroll.

In fact, it's not a stretch to say that aside from a locally installed desktop operating system and browser (or increasingly, from a single mobile device) a lot of today's small business technology needs can be fulfilled almost completely with cloud-based offerings.

Clouds Bring Rain
Of course, cloud computing raises concerns about security, stability, and data ownership. A recent survey found that cloud computing adoption rates have been steadily increasing since 2009; however, the same survey also revealed executives' concerns over efficiently managing disparate cloud services.

Let's also not forget that cloud services are subject to outages that are beyond a business' control. In 2010, Intuit's site went down for two days, leaving its SMB customers unable to access their data in Intuit's online offerings including Quicken, QuickBooks and TurboTax. Such downtime stories serve as a sobering reminder that trusting your data and technology services to an off-site third-party places you at the mercy of that third-party's uptime reliability.

Many businesses are countering that complete dependency by going with hybrid cloud solutions. For instance, companies such as Egnyte and Rebit will replicate data stored locally on a hard drive or NAS to their cloud services, offering SMBs the best of both worlds: local control and access to data and peace of mind that the data is backed up to the cloud. For more on ways to avoid getting burned during a cloud service provider's downtime, check out: Analyst's View: After Intuit's Apology, Cloudy Outlook for the Cloud?.

Cloud Computing, Defined
Many complain that the concept of cloud computing is merely a marketing term to define centralized, mainframe computing. However, the model of today's cloud computing differs from that of mainframes of the past.

2011-01-03 10:10:51 by supermatt

Cloud computing..

Definitely enables small business to to begin offering software-as-service and web-based solutions to clients without a huge outlay for their own data center, or even having to employ IT staff in order to scale.
3rd party cloud technology providers do all of that work.
For the end-user, I think the speed and storage of the PC is not as important.
If apps and documents are on the cloud, more work can be done with lesser equipment like tablets and smart phones.
We may not be far from eliminating the "computer" and just using a monitor and bluetooth keyboard attached to your smartphone

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