Many small businesses and organisations will only use the cloud for its widely recognised file storage and backup facilities, but cloud computing offers much more. Cloud technology enables small businesses and organisations to outsource all of their ICT needs, including:
- back-office equipment (processing power, storage devices and network facilities);
- software (applications, operating systems);
- platforms (development environments); and
- telecommunications (integrated telephony solutions).
Reliable and secure hosted technology solutions providers can offer these solutions 'as a service', useable for short or long periods with substantial variability in the volume of usage required. The particular solutions used and the computing power, storage space and time period required, can be adjusted up or down at relatively short notice and without the large costs which would otherwise apply.
The most commonly known cloud service providers are Amazon, Google, Microsoft and IBM (see Figure 1), but there are many hundreds of small and large cloud computing providers around the world which can be located using your favourite internet search engine.
Figure 1 - Some Cloud Service Provider Web Interfaces
(sources: PC Magazine, SnapFiles)