Moving operations to the “cloud” saves businesses time, money | submitted by Jim Salviski

The terms “cloud” and “cloud computing” are emerging everywhere, but unless you’re in the information technology business, you’re probably not sure what they mean.

You should be.

Businesses large and small, in every sector, are moving their operations to the cloud – including your competitors.

So what, exactly, is the cloud? It’s an overarching term used to describe computing systems, data, and infrastructure running on a server at an offsite data center that your company can rent or lease.

Simply put, the cloud refers to the out-of-sight, out-of-mind computer tasks that happen on someone else’s equipment. It can replace or be an extension of the server – or servers – taking up valuable space in your company’s closet or costing a fortune at your company’s data center.

The cloud can also serve as an extension of your company’s IT team, freeing it to focus attention on strategic projects that help your business grow.

Your company’s IT employees are not the only ones who benefit. The company as a whole can benefit. With the cloud, IT infrastructure costs become predictable. Capital investments in hardware that becomes obsolete cease to exist. In fact, cloud computing allows your company to increase capacity or add capabilities on the fly, without investing in new infrastructure, training new personnel, or licensing new software. And your company’s reliability and uptime improve tremendously, leading to better business efficiencies.

In addition, using the cloud, employees are able to securely access data from anywhere, at any time. The cloud runs 24/7/365.

The advantages of moving to the cloud are numerous. But many businesses still have questions about safety, security, reliability, and accessibility.

Reputable cloud providers take great pride in providing highly secure and fault-tolerant environments, so you know your company’s proprietary information is safe. Data center environments are specially designed, private environments just for your business data. No one else has access to it. Some providers go further and seek third-party certification from independent auditors.

It should also be noted that there are numerous reports of entire corporate servers being stolen, flooded, and more. But the security at data centers is much better than in most small business environments.

In essence, as you trust your bank with your money, you should be able to trust your cloud company with your data.

Still have reservations? One suggestion is to start with a hybrid model, whereby your company’s older, archived information is stored in the cloud and your most current data is stored on your own private server or servers.

All in all, the cloud offers your company greater agility, less frustration, better cash flow, and more time to do what you do best – grow your business.

Salviski is the vice president of Data Center Services for EarthLink Cloud.

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