Running Your Business in the Cloud

Stephen Yagielowicz

American Express and Microsoft recently teamed to find better ways for businesses to leverage one of the latest advances in computing and corporate technology: “The Cloud.”

The result is a 16-page whitepaper, entitled, “Running Your Business in the Cloud” (http://smb.blob.core.windows.net/smbstaging/Content/insightguide.pdf), which provides a wide range of information for all business owners; including corporate case studies plus tips for businesses of every size and market sector.

Cloud computing is rapidly increasing in popularity, due to its high performance and low cost, but there are other benefits to businesses as well, say experts.

According to Microsoft, one of the key benefits of cloud computing is mobility.

“Because employees can access cloud-based programs and software from anywhere they have an Internet connection and from nearly any device, cloud computing enables SMBs to mobilize workers and provide them with all the tools they need to do their jobs, whether they’re in or out of the office,” states a Microsoft representative. “Moreover, cloud computing allows for greater collaboration between remote and onsite employees, making audio, video and web conferences, as well as document sharing and instant messaging programs, easily accessible.”

The company lists increased security and reliability as additional benefits.

“When you use a cloudcomputing solution, your business data resides in a secure, offsite location and will be backed up frequently or automatically and sometimes even geo-redundantly (in multiple locations),” the rep explained. “These databackup features provide greater peace of mind as well as business continuity should disaster or unexpected disruptions to your business occur.”

Companies with limited IT resources also experience greater reliability, the rep notes, since cloud service providers have experienced support staff and the latest technologies; benefits which can also lower costs.

“Areas in which you’ll likely save by using cloud-based services include server maintenance, power and cooling, IT personnel, software licensing and upgrade expenses,” the Microsoft rep continued, adding that the subscriptionbased payment model that Cloud-based services operate on allow for greater flexibility and cost control.

‘You pay only for what you need, when you need it,” the rep stated, noting that this rapid scalability has many benefits. “For example, if your employee base fluctuates throughout the year or your storage demands vary at times, you can scale your services up or down depending on your business’s needs.”

As for offering advice on selecting a hosting partner, Microsoft is candid:

“First, not all cloud services providers are alike, so do your homework to ensure you select one with a strong track record when it comes to security and reliability. Learn what your provider’s disaster recovery capabilities are and what its service level agreements include, as well as how the provider will protect your data from the latest security threats,” the rep concluded. “Also, make sure your move to the cloud produces short- and long-term savings; you may find that it makes financial sense to move some programs to the cloud but also to leave some on the premises.”

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