(And Why You Should Care)
Cloud computing is a concept that could save your business quite a bit of money on software, hardware, upgrades and services.
Instead of purchasing hardware and software for your office, you can use cloud computing to put your programs on a highly secure "super server" online. All you need is a device with an Internet connection and you're in business.
There's a good chance that MOST of the software applications you use every day are now "software as a service" applications. In other words, you don't have to install them on your server or PC - you simply access the software as a pay-as-you-go model for only the licenses, space and features you use. This gives you the ability to access highly sophisticated software and functionality at a fraction of the cost - or even for free - and without long-term commitments.
For example, Google is a massive, free cloud application - the power required to search billions of web sites and content in seconds and deliver the relevant results to your screen far exceeds the capacity of your PC. Facebook is another free cloud application that allows you to post pictures and connect with your friends in real time without having to install any software on your computer. Of course, there are also applications such as Salesforce, Constant Contact, SurveyMonkey, etc., that you pay to use.
It is quickly becoming unnecessary for some businesses to purchase and maintain an on-site server. Now companies can host one or more of their applications, data, e-mail and other functions "in the cloud." That simply means it's stored off-site in a highly secure, high-availability "utility" company that has far more power and resources than you could ever logically have on-site as a small business. And with devices getting cheaper and Internet connectivity exploding, cloud computing is suddenly a very smart, viable option for small business owners.