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Photo by Biel Morro on Unsplash[/caption]Demand for Cloud Computing is pretty hot right now. Forrester predicts that the cloud market will be worth $191 billion in 2020, up from $58 billion in 2013. Businesses around the world are continuing the trend to make the switch to cloud platforms. But what are cloud platforms? How can they help - and do you need them?Put simply, Cloud Computing is when data and programs are accessed over the Internet (the Cloud), rather than from a physical computer. The technology is becoming increasingly popular around the globe and it’s more than likely that you’re already using some level of cloud computing for personal use, e.g. Dropbox or the Google Drive suite. It refers to online IT infrastructure that allows you to store and access data and manage application software over the Internet rather than on your computer’s hard drive. However, when it comes to business, the cloud is on a whole new level.Cloud computing offers many benefits to both personal and business users. And most companies are turning to cloud technology to take full advantage of its offerings. But before we go into the benefits: What are the different types of cloud computing?
There are three different types of cloud platforms that you should be aware of.Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) - subscribing to an application and accessing the program over the Internet. Examples include Google Drive and Salesforce. Applications and programs are already set up and ready to use, and are run on the vendor’s server.Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) - PaaS is a cloud framework which allows businesses to create and own custom applications for their own use. PaaS allows for scalability and freedom to build an application specifically to unique needs and requirements, e.g. Force.com. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) - this refers to web architecture or online storage space / servers. Both PaaS and SaaS are run on IaaS platforms.[caption id="attachment_334" align="aligncenter" width="630"]
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Build New Apps - IaaS and PaaS provide companies with a cost effective option to build, manage and maintain an IT infrastructure. Cloud computing can allow businesses to develop and deploy new applications and services.Store and Back up Data - Backing up data has always been a complex, tedious, yet vital operation. Rather than maintaining various sets of hard drives, cloud-based backup allows you to automatically dispatch data around the globe.Hosting - Cloud hosting works by clustering several online servers to accommodate all the aspects of hosting your site. Balancing the load of your site and managing the security and hardware resources is all taken care of over the cloud.Software on Demand - You can access software that you need on a subscription basis. Take a CRM like Salesforce for example. You can take out various module licenses for software that your company needs, and add and remove users as necessary.Analyse Data - 90% of the world’s data was created in the past 2 years. Cloud platforms allow you to store these huge quantities and then provide tools to analyse the data to make better insight-driven decisions for your business.
Flexibility - Cloud based technology can be tailored to your specific requirements and can be scaled up or down depending on the fluctuating bandwidth demands of your business. This flexibility is giving companies an advantage over competitors by allowing them to be more agile and reactive.Performance - With a single datacenter for your whole company, cloud computing will improve your company's efficiency through increased collaboration. The technology allows you to connect with employees, share information and better organise your operations.CRM - Successful customer relationship management is vital to any business. Implementing a CRM platform can present incredible value for your business. From creating more engaging customer experiences to concentrating on reporting and dashboards to improve your marketing and sales decisions, it’s no wonder more SMBs are moving to CRM.Cost -Plenty of organisations are concerned about the initial cost of implementing a new cloud technology system. The best way to weigh up the cost is the ROI you are likely to see through improved efficiency and increased productivity - how much would you save by streamlining processes and eradicating wasted admin time? What opportunities will you gain by being more productive? It also eliminates the need for buying physical hardware and local servers.Mobility - As long as you have an internet connection, you can log into the cloud from any place at any time. Gone are the days of having to go into the office to use your desktop. The cloud allows your company to operate with much more flexibility through making information accessible for travelling, remote and freelance employees. Your employees will thank you, and your employee satisfaction will no doubt increase too!Security - Information stored on the cloud rather than a laptop is much harder to steal. With data and sensitive information backed up on the cloud, you won’t have to stress if your laptop takes a walk. Plus, most cloud technology platforms use encryption as standard, which makes sensitive information much harder for hackers to access.Analysis - Better data allows you to really understand and retain your customers. Easy-to-access data analysis allows you to make stronger decisions to improve your business. Leverage the data to help direct your business strategy and maximise profits.Convinced? Considering the move? Check out our follow-up article on whether CRM is right for you, which will be published next week!