Small businesses face many bottlenecks as they try to scale up their operations. In the past, physical infrastructure was the chief limitation. For a business to expand, it needed new facilities and people to work in them. Today, however, the situation has changed dramatically. As more work occurs online, irrespective of location, cloud services have become the new office building. In particular, cloud networking has become an absolute must for companies looking to grow.
Why is cloud networking so important for small and medium businesses? What even is it, exactly? Let’s take a closer look at how this technology is changing the business landscape and how you can integrate it into your operations.
How Does Cloud Networking Help Small Businesses?
Understanding the Cloud
Technology is advancing at an incredible pace. While your parents and grandparents had similar childhoods, odds are your children will live in a radically different world. Barely a decade ago, the idea of working in “the cloud” was science fiction. Today, it’s a necessity. What does it mean to work in the cloud? The cloud is essentially a cluster of computers and the connections between them. The cloud is accessible using the internet exclusively.
Companies like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, just to name a few, have dedicated immense resources to building cloud infrastructure. A data center, for instance, holds hundreds of servers and thousands of terabytes of storage. All of these machines are linked and accessible using any internet connection. While we live down here on the ground using private networks and personal computers, your business data and computing can live in the cloud.
Why the Cloud Works
At a glance, it may seem counterproductive to use the cloud. After all, it does require internet access in order to use. However, these days internet access is widespread. 5G networks are being deployed worldwide, and broadband connections at home only continue to get faster. Business internet connections are already lightning fast. Not having internet access today is like not having electricity or running water. It’s a basic need, so it shouldn’t be seen as an obstacle.
Once you get past that initial resistance, it becomes clear why the cloud is the superior choice. It’s accessible from everywhere, unlike your office computers that are trapped behind four walls on a specific plot of land. Best of all, it’s not limited by your investments in hardware. When you hire a cloud services provider, you get all of their infrastructure. Every computer in a data center can work for you, and you only pay for what you actually use.
What Does Cloud Networking Encompass?
Within the cloud are specific technologies that make work possible in the cloud. When we talk about cloud networking, we’re referring to how devices connect to one another using the cloud. There are a few different tools that you may want to consider for your business. Opting for these cloud-based tools will save you money in the short and long term while also giving your business the flexibility it needs to scale.
The main services that companies need are cloud storage and cloud computing. These are the two primary services that data centers provide, and they’re the backbone of cloud networking. Consider the advantages of using these modern solutions and how they can help your company to grow.
Most small companies with physical spaces use network storage to allow everyone in the office to work on the same files without generating redundancy. To do this, you need a server with storage, and it has to be connected to every computer in the office. Cloud storage takes that to the next level. Instead of paying for an expensive file server in your building, you can pay for cloud storage at affordable rates. Most cloud storage providers charge per gigabyte.
You’ll never have to upgrade a server again by switching to cloud storage. This is perfect for companies looking to scale up. Besides, you’ll have access to your files regardless of where you are. Any authorized user can access the cloud as long as they have an internet connection. Companies that had already switched to cloud storage found themselves at a huge advantage during the COVID-19 pandemic. Work from home was easy for those organizations, while others struggled to adapt.
Cloud computing may not be necessary for every small business, but we would recommend you start planning to use it sooner rather than later. Compute power is vital once your organization reaches a certain size. For example, if you want to perform data analysis, you’ll need powerful computers to process your data and output valuable insights. Data analytics is vital for growth, especially for SMBs that are close to reaching 100 employees. But that compute power requires hardware.
Data analytics is just one example of a situation where computing power is necessary. If your company produces many videos, rendering them requires many GPUs. If you do lots of CAD or graphic design work, you might also benefit from extra computing power. Instead of spending tens of thousands on servers, send your jobs to the cloud and let them do the computing for you. You’ll pay for the time you occupy CPUs in the cloud, nothing more.
Run Applications in the Cloud
Another reason to consider cloud computing is that you can run custom programs in the cloud and never worry about them slowing down. Perhaps you run a company that needs to track lots of information about clients. You set up a database, and your developers write a GUI for the program so your employees can track clients and make modifications to the database. So far, it sounds great. You might already have proprietary software in your organization.
But what happens when your company outgrows its servers? Now your proprietary application slows down and everyone in your company finds it frustrating to use. Even simple programs can become unwieldy when there isn’t enough computing power to keep them running smoothly. As your organization scales, you need computing to scale. Instead of spending on more servers, switch to the cloud. If your program uses more power, the cloud will simply bill you a little more.
Connect Multiple Locations
When your storage and processing happen in the cloud, your business becomes more connected. One of the main reasons companies look to cloud services is that they can operate anywhere, making expansion easier. A virtual company in France can open a virtual office in New Zealand tomorrow and operate without a single hiccup since all of its files and processes are in the cloud.
If you have a large volume of data that needs to be passed from one office to another, there are cloud-based networking solutions that provide precisely that function. Instead of shuffling data randomly through data centers, you can work with cloud services that provide direct connections between ISPs in different regions to allow for high-speed data transfer between locations. Using cloud-based networking is like working next door to your other locations, even if they’re thousands of miles apart.
Benefits for Small Businesses
All of this technology sounds great, but does it really have benefits for small business customers? The answer is a resounding yes. Using the cloud eliminates many of the technological hurdles that hinder companies’ growth. Furthermore, it can be a very cost-effective solution.
The faster your company can scale, the more it can stay ahead of the competition. Every SMB hopes to scale up faster, and cloud technology makes that possible. As we’ve seen, cloud storage and computing scale as your company does. With the cloud, you’ll never run into a storage limit; you’ll simply pay for more storage. Likewise, when your company’s software is under greater stress because you have more users, the cloud will simply allocate more processing power to you.
Essentially, cloud services work like electricity or water: The more you use, the more you pay. But unlike your utility companies, there’s really no limit to how much you can scale with the cloud. Your company can grow infinitely as you leverage cloud services, meaning you’ve found a solution that will last a lifetime.
In most cases, using the latest technology is an expensive endeavor. However, cloud services actually save your company money every month. You sidestep high up-front costs since you won’t have to invest in servers. But you also avoid significant long-term costs because you dodge downtime (the cloud never fails), and you don’t have to pay people to perform maintenance. The cloud essentially runs itself, and it does so with incredible reliability.
Simpler Solutions, Less Trouble
Overall, the cloud delivers remarkably flexible solutions that can scale to any company’s size. SMBs should look to switch to cloud-based workflows as soon as possible. However, if you’re not sure how to get started or worried about the complexities of switching systems, get some professional help.
Managed IT services will take care of everything for you. At Cyber Command, we help SMBs like yours find the perfect solution for growth and prosperity. We can manage your cloud services and recommend new implementations. Contact Cyber Command today to learn more.