The Cloud. It sounds a bit daunting to some, vague to others, and dangerous to many. Keeping proprietary data secure while providing employees with remote access to their data can seem like an impossible task, and one that’s not entirely worth the risk. What many companies don’t realize is that they’re already using the cloud, or at least their employees are.
For example, we recently discussed the benefits of utilizing centralized project management software for small businesses. By bringing all relevant project data, communications, concept materials, files, and schedules into one widely accessible system, project contributors can work smarter and more efficiently. Our top pick for these services is one of the most popular on the market, and it just happens to be a cloud service: Basecamp. Data is secured and maintained by Basecamp, not on users’ hard drives.
Employees also use cloud tools such as Dropbox and Box.net to take work home or on the road with them. With their highly regarded mobile apps, both services have made themselves, and your company’s data, accessible from just about anything with a Wi-Fi connection. This heightened level of access does pose security concerns, however, which means it’s imperative that small business owners get involved in their staff’s cloud usage.
Forming a Cloud Plan
One of the easiest ways to manage cloud usage risks within an organization is to work with your IT department or provider to select the service that best fits your company’s needs. By selecting one cloud service for the entire company to use, you’ll be better able to oversee and secure your cloud-based data. In addition, paid services such as our top pick, Box.net, offer scaled pricing structures for organizations, which will ultimately save you money.
Many companies are integrating these tools and enjoying other benefits of cloud services such as FTP replacement, document management, and online workspaces for off-site staff. But one of the greatest benefits of using the cloud is also the one topic that makes people the most nervous: business continuity.
Clouds for Insurance
A server room fire, a natural disaster, even a flooded bathroom can derail business activities by taking an entire staff offline. Permanent damage to on-site data storage can literally be the death of a business. This is where cloud services, despite their tendency to make business owners nervous due to security concerns, become more than a convenience, they become an insurance policy.
By utilizing managed cloud services for off-site data storage, companies ensure their business continuity even in the event of a total loss of on-site systems. Once employees have a secure location from which to work, they can get back to business, even if their worksite is inaccessible for an extended period.
Just as with utilizing project management software, using cloud services ultimately comes down to planning and efficiency. Every company’s IT needs are unique, so it’s important to take the time to find cloud services that truly fit, provide instantaneous mobile and on-site access, and are protected by the highest industry security standards.
When you’re running a business, you simply can’t have your head in the clouds. But these days, you may just want to have your data there.