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Leveraging the Cloud to Get a Competitive Edge

By Nick Boyle Subscribe to RSS | July 24th 2012 | Views:

There are many benefits of cloud computing. And while they aren’t confined to any one type or size business, benefits can be especially transformative for today’s small to medium-sized businesses, which can effectively leverage cloud computing to compete with the IT resources and expertise of much larger businesses in their markets.

Top 5 Benefits of Cloud Computing

1. Lowering the Cost Structure of Computing Resources: To compete effectively today, your business can’t afford to waste money. Optimizing resources of all kinds is especially important to smaller businesses. Virtualization enabled by cloud services can help you pool and optimize your company’s computing resources. Users get access to IT resources as an on-demand service and you don’t end up paying for unneeded, idle computing resources. You can also save quite a bit by outsourcing the expertise necessary to run IT in-house.

2. Capital-Free Computing: With cloud computing services, your computer resources are no longer capital expenses. When IT becomes a service provided by a cloud hosting vendor, hardware expenses go off your books. There are no servers to buy, no firewalls, routers or other hardware, so your business can take advantage of a less restricted cash flow.

3. Speed to Finish Projects & Launch Products Faster: You know the drill: you want to start a project, so you need to put in a procurement request for hardware (and justify the expense), then wait for sign-off, wait for shipment, wait for server installation and setup, wait for testing. With EarthLink’s cloud hosting services, for example, it takes just minutes for us to turn up capacity for you to deploy or develop an application. Or you can do it yourself anytime from your Cloud Hosting Control Panel. Again, in minutes. Not weeks or months. This speed can be a major competitive advantage for a small to medium-sized business up against big competitors and their larger IT resources.

4. Frictionless Growth: Fast growth in a company with a traditional IT infrastructure can be challenging. On the one hand, you have to overspend and underutilize IT resources if you want to make sure you have the resources available when you grow. On the other hand, you can slow your company’s growth rate if you have to wait for your IT resources to scale up every time your company wants to expand. The speed and flexibility of the cloud means you always have the right resources for your company’s needs, no matter how fast you are growing. And you only pay for what you actually need.

5. Maintenance-Free IT: The virtual IT services offered by the cloud means lower operating costs for your business. Cloud providers maintain your IT as a service, so you don’t have to pay for expensive, in-house IT expertise and ongoing IT maintenance.

With all the very real benefits of cloud computing, why aren’t all businesses leveraging those advantages today?

If it’s due to a concern for security and data integrity, chances are they are thinking about public cloud computing.

A public cloud service is a large, shared computing environment; there may be thousands of servers connected the cloud provider and businesses pay to use these servers, almost like they would to a utility. This extremely flexible, powerful, pay-for-use system requires no commitment and works very well in many circumstances. But it doesn’t work for businesses that are uncomfortable having their IT resources being pooled with others and not having visibility into the location of their data. For some businesses, compliance issues make public cloud computing a non-starter.

However, private cloud services, such as those offered by EarthLink, can provide businesses a significantly higher level of security and data integrity than public cloud offerings. Cloud customers can use dedicated cloud servers that are set up to their specifications and give them direct access to their data. Private cloud vendors are able to offer data integrity, security, disaster recovery, and other benefits that make cloud computing a compelling choice for most businesses. The Cloud Provider could also include (as EarthLink’s cloud service does) automatic backup in multiple data centers and data recovery services with all cloud hosting services.

When choosing a private cloud service, look for a provider using familiar industry-leading software such as the VMware virtualization software used by EarthLink. Also, make sure your provider offers multiple, state-of-the-art, audited data centers to insure the integrity of your data. And lastly, make sure they can offer you industry-leading expertise to help you make a seamless transition to the cloud and then intelligently leverage the cloud as you grow.

Nick Boyle - About Author:
If you’re wondering how you can leverage cloud technology more within your business to become more agile or better control costs contact us at EarthLink and one of our IT experts can help size your application or custom design a solution specifically for your business.

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