Having a global presence requires flexible, lightning-fast technology built on an expandable platform at a reasonable cost. Cloud technology provides all that and more.
Defining the Cloud
The cloud is something that most people know about but can’t define. Simply, the cloud is the Internet. What was stored on your computer is now stored on remote servers assessable online. Company documents, videos, pictures, and even complete software applications don’t have to reside on your hard drive anymore.
Types of Cloud Technology Available
Digital Trends identified the three most common ways to use cloud computing in business:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS involves pay-as-you-go storage and web hosting on remote servers. The main advantage is the ability to scale up or down, depending on need. With IaaS, your company outsources equipment needed to provide data storage and network support. You contract with an IaaS vendor who owns and maintains all related equipment.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Under PaaS, the service provider with whom you contract supplies remote networks, servers, and a programming language. You are responsible for supplying software developed in-house or under contract with someone hired by you.
- Software as a Service (SaaS)
ZDNet describes Software as a Service (SaaS), as “a delivery model in which applications are hosted and managed in a service provider’s data center, paid for on a subscription basis and accessed via a browser over an Internet connection.”
With SaaS, you can add or remove users as needed. In addition, the software is upgraded and maintained remotely and therefore not your responsibility.
The cost of doing international business used to be cost-prohibitive for small and medium-sized companies. Because of cloud technology, those barriers were largely removed.
Lower IT Cost
Using leased remote servers, software, and storage through the Internet frees you from most of the costs associated with in-house IT management. Subscription costs and manpower to maintain the cloud platform still create the need for an IT staff but the workload is likely smaller.
The Planet is Going Online
According to the International Telecommunications Union, there are 6.8 billion mobile device subscriptions throughout the world. With an estimated world population of 7.1 billion, there are nearly as many mobile device subscriptions as people! This also means that global businesses have steadily increased its reliance on cloud-based telecommunications, and enjoyed the benefits of using VoIP systems and virtual phone numbers.
Geography and Adaptability
The cloud is everywhere all the time. Maintaining physical servers and related equipment in every company location is not necessary with cloud technology.
Adaptability is important in today’s rapidly changing business world. In a global environment, change can come quickly and almost without warning. A cloud presence allows your company to upgrade and adapt instantly in every geographic location where you do business.
Location Does Matter
Location of cloud servers is important, according to Gigaom. Distance from your HQ, local business culture, and the legal implications of where your data is stored can’t be discounted.
On the other hand, managing customer relationships, resource planning, record keeping, manufacturing, and distribution via one system on the Internet may make up for distance considerations.
Regardless of where your cloud servers are located,specialized software exists that allows you to accommodate multiple languages, and currencies automatically. In addition, managing a variety of jurisdictional tax laws, and reporting requirements is much easier when all of your records are accessible in one place.
RightScale’s 2013 State of the Cloud Survey showed 75 percent of respondents had at least some involvement in cloud technology. For most businesses, adopting cloud-computing technology is not a question of “whether,” but one of “when.”
With global growth becoming an increasingly important revenue driver for many companies, overcoming the challenges that global expansion presents is critical. You and your company can enter global markets and expand without the cloud, but the task is much easier with it.