As more small and medium-sized businesses are falling prey to a seemingly endless sea of hacker sharks eager to make businesses their lunch, many smaller firms are opting to outsource their data storage and software operations. While large companies have used IT service providers for years, smaller firms are realizing the cost-effectiveness and service benefits of jumping on this bandwagon.

Cloud Computing Benefits

Cloud computing—running operations and storing data on someone else’s servers and accessing it from the office via the Internet—offers several chief benefits to small business owners:

  • Reduced costs: because cloud technology is paid incrementally, it saves your organization money.
  • Increased storage: you can store more data than you can on private servers.
  • Highly automated: IT personnel do not have to worry about keeping software up to date.
  • Flexibility: cloud computing offers more flexibility than previous computing methods.
  • IT can shift focus: because your IT department no longer needs to worry about constant server updates and other computing problems, your company can focus on innovation.

Cloud Computing Options

Basic security tasks that are difficult for small companies to handle, such as updating antivirus programs or applying patches to software, are typically part of the very basic package in the cloud; and the benefits increase from there. As is the case with almost everything, the more you pay, the more you get: firewalls protecting your data, high-end encryption, hacker-attack notifications and mitigation, and 24-hour tech support.

Cons of Cloud Computing

While there are many advantages to cloud computing, there are also several disadvantages. For example, multiple users of a server can create multiple entry points for hackers, which can compromise your company’s security. Additionally, if the cloud provider’s security is weak and basic Internet hygiene is sloppy at companies whose files cohabitate with yours, your information can be infected as well.

While there are certainly both advantages and disadvantages of cloud computing, the pros outweigh the cons for many small business owners, especially those who give employees remote access from home. However, despite increased security measures and multiple benefits, more than half of small business owners remain reluctant about this technology.

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