In 2011, Small Businesses Will Get More and More Into Cloud Computing

Cloud computing may sound pretty foreign to many people, but it’s certainly been taking off in the last several years. And now many small businesses are looking to get into it as well, hoping to trim costs and stay up and running if disaster strikes.

Cloud computing refers to any service that operates over an Internet connection, allowing immediate access from any computer or mobile device with Web access. Business owners can access software or store information—such as customer contacts, accounting data and presentations—and leave the technical maintenance to the cloud provider.

As of April 2010, only about 7% of small-business owners were using cloud services, but that number is expected to grow to more than 10% by mid-2011, according to a survey by technology-research firm IDC.

Software that is accessed through the cloud is often free or pay-per-use—a more affordable model than paying big, upfront licensing fees. Half of small firms that use cloud services say it has improved their bottom line, according to a survey this fall by Microsoft, which provides cloud services.

So why aren’t more small businesses expected to use cloud services? The answer is that most small businesses don’t want to stray from familiar systems or invest in new ones. There are also risks. Security breaches, for instance, can happen if the cloud provider isn’t reliable.

But provided that one is careful in selected the proper cloud service, there seem to be both monetary benefits (cutting expenses by 10-20%) and accessibility benefits that one just simply can’t get elsewhere.

[Wall Street Journal]

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