As described in 6 Reasons Why Your Small Business Should Go Cloud, the "Cloud" is here, it's not going anywhere and, in fact, has been around since the 90s! Like any relatively new technology, it still takes time for things to catch on...
According to Citrix, 54% of respondents to a national (US) survey say they hardly ever (or never) use the cloud even though 95% use cloud services like Facebook, Gmail and YouTube! Thirty-two percent of respondents say the cloud is a "thing of the future." So, obviously, there's a disconnect between perception and reality (would it be cruel of me to point out that 29% of people believe that the cloud has something to do with the weather? Yeah, probably. But shining a light on ignorance is a good thing, right?).
It's all about the Benjamins
The good news is that—according to the Small Business Authority—by 2015, 3 billion users and 15 billion devices will be using cloud services. That's an increase of 55% and 150%, respectively. Whether the public realizes it or not, the ubiquity of the cloud is a trend that will continue and, subsequently, make a big impact on all of our lives.
So why is the cloud so popular? One of the biggest reasons is money. The cost savings for businesses of any size are significant: reduction of IT labor costs by 50% (IBM), small business energy costs reduced by up to 90% (Netmetix), and switching from business-grade equipment to consumer-grade equipment saves 45%-70%.
Okay, so if that's the "Why?"... then "How?" There is an abundance of ancillary reasons that explain how cloud computing can save your organization money, many of which originate from the metrics mentioned above (e.g., reduced labor costs, energy costs, etc.). If we dig a bit deeper, though, the crux of the matter is that cloud computing puts you in control of usage. Whether it's labor units, machines, man-hours, or kilowatt hours... in the world of cloud computing, you only pay for what you use. In short, cloud computing puts you in the driver's seat when it comes to fixed and discretionary costs.
Which pay-as-you-go factors should I consider?
Since one of our favorite topics here at Planio is cloud-based software and how it can make a difference in your life, let's check out some cost factors to consider when deciding which cloud solution is appropriate for your organization and its needs.
How much storage do I need?
Whether you're considering an online backup plan or a cloud-based project management solution, you'll need to determine how much storage space your organization requires. In a nutshell, how many gigs do you require? Is there an unlimited storage option?
How many users do I have?
Predictably, this is largely a matter of how large your organization is — startups can get by with a small number while larger companies may require an unlimited number of users. Other user-related issues to consider: what kind of access does the cloud solution offer? How secure is it? Is all functionality 100% web-based? If so, is it accessible by all browser types?
How many customers do I have?
If your desired cloud service will extend outside of your private network, then you may need to consider a customer requirement. Does the cloud service provider charge by the company or the customer? Is the customer management functionality robust enough for your needs?
How customizable is each plan?
Most cloud services offer an array of plan options designed to fit your needs. Quite frequently, though, a cloud service will simply ask, "Do you need more x?" (where x = users, storage, or even a bespoke service). What kind of customizations are we talking about? It depends entirely on your needs and solution availability. Options could include custom-developed functionality, plug-in compatibility, or customized branding. Ultimately, a superior cloud service should be customer-focused; meaning, flexibility in terms of service offerings over blind adherence to plan structures.
Is your organization considering going cloud? What are your needs? Tell us about them in the comments below. Your opinions and specific requirements will help all of us to understand the future of cloud computing. You'll also get a virtual hug from yours truly — especially if you toss a Like/Tweet our way!
Brian enjoys reading about project management, learning more about technical writing, and eating sandwiches of every variety. When not reading, learning and eating, Brian is sleeping (and probably dreaming of all three).