If you’ve been wondering what cloud computing really is and waiting for the cloud ‘computing’ cover to pass, plan to wait a long time. Adding more fuel to the cloud computing fire, this week analyst firm Gartner Inc. forecast the end of the PC as the center of our digital lives. In its place, look to the personal cloud as ‘the glue’ to connect all the computing devices that you use throughout the day of which smartphones and tablets are gaining prominence. Gartner isn’t talking five years down the road either – think 2014.

You’re possibly asking what does cloud computing mean for my business. The short answer is there are a lot of possibilities.  To begin with, it means everyone in your business can have access to information from anywhere at any time. That’s a great boost to productivity, cooperation, and customer service, not to mention efficiency. Some of the services you commonly employ now such as project management and payroll can also move to the cloud for greater convenience and access.

Cloud computing also has the potential to level the playing field for you relative to competition with larger enterprises. Now you’ll have access to the same applications and services they do whether to support your infrastructure needs, Web presence, or hosted communication and collaboration – not only business email but virtual PBX or an Internet hosted phone system. These services enable you to route your calls anywhere plus often provide voicemail, conferencing and automated voice messages.

From a hard dollar standpoint, you can avail yourself of these new applications and services cost effectively since you only pay for usage. There are no additional costs for infrastructure, operation and management and you don’t need to think about upgrades and maintenance. As you move many of your business operations to the cloud, your internal IT staff can focus on the mission critical aspects of your business.

Still even with all its advantages, there are issues about cloud computing and you want to consider them carefully before you move any of your current applications to the cloud or secure new ones.  Here are a few:

  • Security: Storing your business data remotely poses security issues
  • Business needs: Before delegating your applications to the cloud, consider your needs. Evaluate from a business and technical case which applications are best to move and whether you need customized services.
  • Accessibility: If there is a technical problem at the cloud service providers, you may not have access to your data and files. The solution might be a cross-cloud backup plan.

Which applications are you considering moving to the cloud?