This is a question you will ask in a few years, maybe just 5-6 years. With more and more software application providers providing “cloud versions” of their conventional software applications they are becoming more of a norm than an exception.
Does cloud computing sound “geeky”? Actually it is not. You have been using cloud computing for many years now it’s just that you didn’t realize it. When you access your e-mail using a Web interface you are actually using a cloud-based service. Similarly if you use a shopping cart you are using an application that is running on a remote server and you are accessing it remotely through your Internet connection. The same characteristic manifests in other applications.
Take for instance GoogleDocs; people have been using this great online office suite for many years now. In fact services like GoogleDocs and Zoho (another online applications suite) are giving Microsoft Office a run for its money. These cloud-based applications support all the functions that you get in a conventional office suite such as word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and basic database functions. Some of them even offer project management, invoicing and CRM solutions for small businesses. These service have totally eliminated the need to install software on your PC or mainframe.
So you have already been using the services for a long time without coming across the tag of “cloud-based applications”.
You may come across people asking, “Why access critical business applications over the Internet when you can easily install them locally especially when storage space is so cheap these days and so are other hardware and software?”
This is true, and cost is definitely a big factor but cloud-based applications are not only cheaper compared to conventional set-ups they are also more convenient to use. And the biggest advantage is scalability: whether you are a corner store or a Fortune 500 company you can easily avail the services of a company that provides cloud-based solutions within your own budgets. You can easily scale up or scale down the same service according to what you need and how much you want to pay. But that’s another point. We are considering the installation part.
Installing applications has always been a major headache for big and small businesses. Most of the enterprise level applications require lots of technical expertise and high-end hardware to run. You need technical know-how even to install and set up these applications. This significantly increases your IT costs. You acquire hardware, you arrange for the space for the hardware, you employ people to take care of it, you need power to keep the infrastructure running and you constantly need to spend money on maintenance and upgrades. All this adds up to a big chunk of your business expenses.
Cloud-based applications on the other hand can bring down your IT expenses by more than 80 to 90 per cent. In fact, even more. All you have to do is launch your browser, go to the website of the company that provides the cloud-based application you’re looking for, select the appropriate plan, pay for it, and start using it — it is as simple as that. You only need to bother yourself with the features you need and not with the implementation and customization.
Everything is managed by the company that provides you the service. You don’t even need to invest in new hardware. Most of the cloud-based applications can easily be accessed through a browser having contemporary features and add-ons. This totally eliminates the need of installing software on local machines. Even upgrades and backups are taken care of by the service provider. All you have to do is use the service, leverage its features and focus on your business.
The fact that cloud-based applications drastically bring down your costs and immensely improve your efficiency is rapidly eliminating all the reasons for installing business applications on your local machines. That is why we are pretty sure that in the very near future people will balk at the idea of installing applications locally.