A cloud-based solution is a software platform hosted on the internet rather than installed on your computer or server. The benefits of having your business’s vital systems hosted in the cloud include lower upfront costs, real-time analytics, and better scalability and flexibility.
Cloud computing has become increasingly popular because it gives companies access to many modules without investing in infrastructure and maintenance contracts. Instead, they pay only for what they use, usually a subscription fee.
Having said that, let’s understand what cloud-based solutions are, their benefits, and how to choose one.
What is a Cloud Solution?
A cloud solution is a software application that runs on the internet. They are hosted by a third party, which operates the infrastructure. Cloud applications are accessed over the internet, usually through a web browser. Most cloud vendors also offer mobile applications so you can access them via your smartphone.
Since cloud IT solutions are available 24/7, they’re ideal for companies with a remote and diversified workforce. As a result, it enhances the productivity and efficiency of your employees, improving the company’s bottom line.
Types of Cloud Computing
There are different types of cloud computing, including public, private, and hybrid. But, of course, the right one for your business depends on your needs and budget. So let’s understand them in detail.
- Private cloud: This is a cloud infrastructure only accessible by a company’s employees and partners who have been granted access rights by the business. A private cloud is used for internal use only, with security features and policies set by your company.
- Public cloud: A public cloud is any off-premise solution provided by a third-party provider. It can be used by anyone and does not require special access privileges or credentials.
- Hybrid cloud: A hybrid cloud combines private and public clouds to provide a seamless experience for users across multiple platforms (e.g., mobile devices and desktops). It allows users to move applications between them depending on their needs and preferences.
Types of Cloud Services
Cloud-based solutions can be divided into three main types:
- Software as a Service (SaaS): This is the most common type of cloud-based solution and also the easiest to understand. SaaS is software hosted by a third party and accessed over the internet. Examples include Google Docs, Salesforce, and Dropbox.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): A PaaS provides developers with all the tools they need to develop and host their own applications or websites. Popular examples include Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): IaaS offers virtual machines to customers, allowing them to run an application in their private cloud environment without buying, setting up, or maintaining physical servers themselves. Examples include Rackspace and GoGrid.
Benefits of Cloud Solutions
Now that you know what cloud solutions are, let’s look at their benefits. They offer many advantages over traditional software, including lower upfront costs, better flexibility, scalability, security, and enhanced collaboration. Let’s look at these benefits in more detail.
1- Higher Cost Savings
Cloud IT solutions cost less than traditional software because you don’t need to purchase equipment or software. Instead, all your needs are met through a subscription service where the provider manages everything for you. Furthermore, you don’t need to hire an IT team to maintain the system.
2- Faster Deployment
You can deploy cloud solutions much faster than on-premise software. This is because you don’t need to invest in infrastructure or build an IT team. For instance, when you choose a cloud ERP software like FirstBit in Dubai, you can customize and deploy the solution in around two-three months with the help of the vendor.
3- Better Flexibility
With a cloud solution, you can access your files anywhere at any time. This gives you flexibility in how, when, and where you work. You will never have to worry about being away from the office or when traveling because everything is online!
4- Improved Collaboration
Cloud solutions allow multiple users to share information in real-time, irrespective of where they are. This is especially helpful for companies that have employees working remotely or who frequently travel for business purposes!
5- Better Scalability
Cloud computing enables companies to scale up their operations when needed without having to invest money upfront or risk wasting resources due to underutilization. It also helps organizations avoid buying too many resources they may not need or want at a given time. You can also add more features and modules as required.
6- Enhanced Security
Cloud computing is more secure than ever before. Your data will be protected by encryption and other security measures. The data is stored remotely in secure data centers monitored 24/7 by security experts who monitor suspicious activity and breach attempts. This allows you to focus on running your business instead of guarding your data!
7- Increased Efficiency
Cloud computing enables you to focus on what you do best — your business — instead of worrying about managing servers or other IT tasks. This gives you more time to focus on growing your business and developing new products or services.
8- Improved Reliability
Cloud solutions are reliable because they use multiple servers and data centers worldwide. If one fails, others can take over immediately without affecting performance or user experience. This also ensures your data is backed up regularly, so there is little chance of losing data even during disasters (also known as disaster recovery).
9- Automated Upgrades
Cloud vendors periodically upgrade the software to improve security, interface, and features. Since everything happens in the background, you don’t experience downtime while enjoying the latest features. Also, unlike in on-premise systems, all users get access to the latest upgrades simultaneously.
Drawbacks of Cloud Solutions
Like other technologies, cloud solutions also have some disadvantages. Therefore, it is essential to know them before investing.
1- Data ownership and control
Your company may not have complete control over its data when it’s stored in the cloud, depending on the terms of service agreed upon with your provider and any applicable laws in your jurisdiction regarding ownership of data stored online by third parties.
2- Limited customization ability
Cloud providers generally use standard tools and software packages, so there are fewer customization options than on-premise solutions. However, you can choose industry-specific software to meet your needs.
3- Requires robust internet connection
Unlike traditional software that can be accessed offline, cloud-based software requires a robust internet connection. When your network is overloaded, you might experience slowdowns when accessing the platform.
4- Network and provider outages
Performance issues like latency are beyond your company’s control. Network and power outages can affect your system performance if your vendor is not prepared with contingency plans. Therefore, asking your vendor about their disaster recovery procedures is vital.
5- Cost depends on your storage requirements
The storage capacity in the cloud is often pre-defined. You may have to pay more if you want to save large files in the cloud. As your storage requirements increase, the cost of keeping them will also increase.
6- Switching providers could be cumbersome
Migrating between cloud providers could prove challenging. This includes legal and regulatory limitations, technical expertise, and substantial costs required for data migrations. It might also result in significant downtime and affect your day-to-day operations.
Cloud Solutions Examples and Use Cases
Cloud-based systems offer a wide range of capabilities to meet the diverse needs of businesses. Examples include the following.
- Google Suite, Microsoft 365: You can create documents and presentations using Google Suite and Microsoft 365 from anywhere. This increases productivity and efficiency while allowing everyone on your team to collaborate.
- FirstBit and Salesforce: ERP tools like FirstBit and Salesforce allow you to manage your operations via one platform. You can also choose industry-specific ERP systems like distribution ERP, manufacturing ERP, and construction ERP to meet your business’s unique needs.
- Zoom and Slack: Communicate with your employees and clients in real-time via your web browser or app (mobile and desktop). Slack allows you to share files and documents so everyone can access them.
With remote work becoming more prevalent, cloud software is the future of business solutions. It can help enhance collaboration, productivity, security, and efficiency across the company. However, it depends mainly on your internet connection and offers limited customization options.
When choosing a solution, choose the right cloud computing and service type per your business requirements. Also, ensure your vendor follows the right security measures and helps you comply with local laws.