Companies across a broad spectrum, from shoestring startups to Fortune 500 enterprises, are wondering how they can better incorporate cloud computing into their organizations. There are manifold ways in which this technology can improve your efficiency and results. First, let’s look at the growth numbers for cloud to see how much is currently being invested in these systems and tools.
Gartner underestimates cloud growth by $600 million
One way to know how fast the need for public cloud services is growing is that the industry analysts are having a hard time keeping up with it. In September 2016, Gartner announced its updated projection for the market: that the sector would expand from $178 billion in 2015 to $208.6 billion in 2016 – a 17.2% rise. The primary reason for the increase is one of the three primary cloud categories, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) – forecast to skyrocket with a 42.8% revenue bump in 2016.
While that type of fast growth may sound unsustainable, in February, Gartner issued a new analysis for 2017 with an increased growth rate of 18%. The projection is an increase from $209.2 billion in 2016 to $246.8 billion in 2017. Again, the most powerful expansion will occur with IaaS, only slightly decelerating from its breakneck pace to climb to $34.6 billion in 2017, a 36.8% ascension. Do these new projections seem overly optimistic? Gartner is simply responding to its own underestimation of the segment; note that $209.2B starting figure for 2016, outdoing the $208.6 billion prediction from September. That may not seem substantial comparing the totals, but it means there was an additional $600 million of business generated that Gartner did not foresee.
What are the specific ways that cloud can help your business, though? How does it empower your mission and goals?
By facilitating ease-of-use
Installing security patches and software updates can be tedious and time-consuming. Since that’s the case, smaller companies will often use IT contractors who can get overbooked and fall behind on individual client needs. Alternatively, sometimes the IT role is taken up by a full staff member such as the office manager, who does not have the time or training to handle every issue. These ways of approaching the digital world can be expensive, labor-intensive, and unnecessarily stressful. By using a cloud provider to deliver your IT environment, explains entrepreneurial mentoring nonprofit SCORE, everything will be patched and updated automatically. Do you have an IT team? In that case, says the association, cloud is still a strong move by relieving your employees of maintenance tasks so that they can be squarely focused on emergent tech and new business development.
By delivering scalability so your company can grow
The elasticity of cloud systems gives you access to new resources on-demand, so that you can increase the depth of your infrastructure for peak times such as the holidays or after you get press, and giving you the ability to grow your backend exponentially if you hit a tipping point. This characteristic is critical because it is challenging for firms to figure out what they will require in computing resources. Cloud sets aside the guessing game, letting you react as traffic or user behavior changes, making sure you have enough fuel to keep expanding without waste. Growth is not just about customers, of course, but adding your own systems. If you add a collaboration tool, the resources are immediately “at the ready” to allow it to run effectively. Your company is better able to adapt in the moment; in other words, it is more flexible.
By protecting you from Internet crime
Sony, Target, and Home Depot have all been ferociously hacked on a massive scale. Actually, hackers have taken huge strikes at the federal government too. There were numerous reports that hackers (believed to be Russian) who had intruded into the White House and State Department email system in 2014 were continuing to evade the government’s efforts to remove them. In this landscape, security is increasingly challenging. Furthermore, while these examples of cyberattack are so vast in scale that it may make you think your business is too small to interest intruders – but in fact, small businesses are particularly vulnerable. Statistics are compelling along these lines:
- The threat is real. Incredibly, 2012 figures from the National Cyber Security Alliance show that 1 out of every 5 small companies were already being hacked annually. Among the group that was infiltrated at that time, the NCSA estimated that 3 in 5 were bankrupt in just 6 months.
- When you go offline, your revenue suffers. According to Andrew Lerner of Gartner, polls of business executives suggest that the average cost of downtime is $5600 per minute. What about going down for an hour? In that case, the average loss is $336,000.
- Let’s take an example of a DIY tool that businesses often fail to protect. Many, many small businesses use WordPress. The W3Techs Web Technology Surveys (accessed September 5, 2017) show that WordPress is used on 59.4% of sites that have identifiable content management systems – translating to 28.6% of all sites globally. WordPress is a big target because it is so popular; for example, Threatpost reported in February that “attackers have taken a liking to a content-injection vulnerability disclosed last week and patched in WordPress 4.7.2 that experts say has been exploited to deface 1.5M sites so far.”
The point? In this dangerous context, the case for digital security is compelling. Specifically related to #3 above, that is just one example of the security risks in play that could be obstacles to business. Reducing the risk of online attack increases the strength and certainty of your firm’s development.
Enter the cloud: credible, knowledgeable partners substantially boost the safety of most small business data (provided you do not have industrial-grade security mechanisms and monitoring on-site). As SCORE advises, “Storing your data in the cloud ensures it is protected by experts whose job is to stay up-to-date on the latest security threats.”
By allowing your team to work together
A lot of business discussion lately has been about the value of collaboration. For instance, one of the most often-praised benefits of an open office layout is how it enhances collaboration (although, there is definitely not complete agreement that open offices deliver on their promises). Regardless how effective that design approach is, it signals how important the integration of numerous people’s perspectives is to business.
How can cloud help with this business needs? It is collaborative by design. Cloud-hosted apps are accessible 24/7 from virtually any web-connected device. That means, effectively, that your business no longer has walls in terms of your ability to let people interact with your systems to meet your business objectives. Through a cloud ecosystem, personnel and other partners in widely distributed geographical locations can work together on the same file (which is automatically backed up if you’re using a high-quality provider).
Through a well-managed cloud platform, people from all over the country, and internationally, can contribute to the project without having to worry about repeatedly passing files back and forth through email. While email is still a comfort zone for many, its model of sending files back and forth is less efficient than the cloud. Plus, it creates more potential for a space-time paradox, the accidental creation of a second “working copy” of a project (the results of which Doc Brown warns could “destroy the entire universe”).
By being ready to launch, now
Another key point about cloud, mentioned above but that deserves its own attention, is that there is no ramp-up time for a cloud system. You can access one today.
Do you need a cloud system that is easy to use, highly scalable, reliable, fast, and secure, so you can start collaborating at a moment’s notice? At Total Server Solutions, we do it right.