Monday, September 22, 2008

Take Your Business to the Clouds

We have reached a new era with the way we compute and leverage enterprise or business software. No longer are large organizations required to purchase expensive on-premise software solutions or host and maintain costly servers to store their data. Also gone are the days where small business owners must purchase off the shelf packaged software or order multiple discs in order to install software on more than one computer. This new era of business software solutions is brought to you from the clouds and delivered via the internet.

The term "cloud computing" has been around for some time now, referring once to ATM networks the term applies to so much more today. Chances are that you have computed in the clouds even if you don't understand what it means. Some examples of cloud computing you or your kids may be familiar with are online photo storage and editors, web based word processors like Google Docs or online data storage services.

The term "cloud" is just a reference to using the internet to access software or services. In short, Cloud Computing leverages the internet, a web browser and a centralized data center. When you are cloud computing your information or data is stored in a centralized off-site data center instead of your personal computer or in-house servers. You access your data over the internet using a web browser like IE or Firefox to securely send and receive your information.

There are many great benefits to services provided over the internet including a lowered cost to run software, no need to deploy and maintain expensive servers yourself, real time platform upgrades and 24/7 access to your data from any computer with an internet connection. This means small businesses no longer need multiple versions of software for different computers since no software is actually stored in house.

An example of how cloud computing is helping organizations of all sizes is web based customer relationship management software (CRM). This Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution allows companies to take their business to the streets since users can access their data in real time anywhere in the world via the internet. When leveraging SaaS CRM, every department within an organization shares a single database which breaks down the doors that once separated sales from marketing or billing form shipping. With up to the minute information everyone involved with particular processes in an organization will have up to the minute information as transactions are processed or leads are captured. There are many Web Based CRM vendors out there in the clouds today with this form of Software-as-a-Service growing rapidly. Some of the major players currently providing this form of SaaS CRM are Salesforce.com, Netsuite and Salesboom.com.

I think it is now safe to say that cloud computing will be a big part of business in the years to come with the large number of services currently offer over the internet. For more info on some of the online services currently out there here is a good post I found on this topic which outlines over 270 online business tools with short descriptions of their services, "http://mashable.com/2008/09/21/270-online-business-tools/".

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