Olafur Ingthorsson is an IT professional in Reykjavik, Iceland who writes about cloud computing at Cloud Computing Topics 
Of course, we’re hearing more and more about cloud computing these days – but what is cloud storage, and how can it benefit your business?
The fact is that you’re probably already using the cloud without even realizing it. If you use a web-based email provider such as Gmail or Hotmail, you are using the cloud. If you’ve ever used Skype video calling or video interfaces like Vimeo or YouTube, you’ve used the cloud. If you’ve ever backed up data on the Internet rather than an external device, you’ve used the cloud.
Although the cloud in its current form is a relatively recent development, interest in cloud computing continues to grow. Cloud computing has a great number of benefits — here are the top five:
1. Cost Savings
One of the most appealing reasons to switch to the cloud is the cost savings. With cloud computing, the need to pay for large amounts of disk and storage space is instantly removed as well as the need for buying, installing and upgrading pricey software. With the cloud, you’ll pay for applications only when needed and many applications are included free of charge. Usage can easily be scaled to fit your needs and adjusted for peaks or troughs in demand.
This “a la carte,” incremental way of paying can save your business a lot of money. Pay-per-use reduces (or in some cases eliminates) the cost of maintaining in-house servers. The savings applies to your desktop, too — with SaaS (software as a service), desktop software need not be installed, which saves your business both time and money.
2. Ease of Use
Quite simply, cloud computing is easy to get up and running. Instead of having to download and/or install software yourself, in the cloud it is all done for you. The cloud also offers virtually unlimited storage capacity relative to typical hard drive and server limits. The cloud is also adaptable. If you need more storage, it’s instantly available for a slightly larger fee per month. Since your business data is stored in the cloud, your employees will be able to access software and data anywhere from nearly any device that has Internet connection.
3. Increased Storage Capacity and Automation
The cloud offers virtually unlimited storage capacity when compared to typical hard drive and server limits, and is flexible — if your business needs more storage, you can upgrade at any time. Also, the cloud keeps software up-to-date with the latest versions, so you’ll never have to worry about doing software updates yourself. File sync with all of your devices as well as file back-ups are also fully automated. Your data will continually be kept consistent and current among all of your devices in use.
4. Agility, Flexibility and Scalability.
Cloud computing also offers far more flexibility and agility compared to past computing methods. Your employees will no longer be tethered to their desks and will be able to access files and data from wherever they are, 24 hours a day. You’ll also be able scale your cloud usage up or down on an as-needed basisand only pay for what you are actually using. In the past, making changes to your service could take months. Now, with the cloud, this can be done in minutes.
With the cloud, your staff will be able to access information from home, from clients’ offices, on the road, or even from their smartphone . Your staff members can also work collaboratively on documents and files, even when they are not physically in the same room. Also, documents can be viewed as well as edited simultaneously from multiple user locations.
5. Freeing up Your IT Staff
Since the cloud does most everything for you, there is no need to use valuable IT staff resources on things like maintaining servers, fixing bugs or taking care of software updates. Your IT department will spend less time on maintenance and be free to spend more time focusing on strategic initiatives to increase your company’s bottom line.
What is cloud storage? It could very well be exactly what your company needs.
This article was previously published on Cloud Computing Topics 
Article printed from Data Center Knowledge: http://www.datacenterknowledge.com
URL to article: http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2012/06/25/5-reasons-cloud-computing-is-key-to-businesss-success/
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 Cloud Computing Topics: http://cloudcomputingtopics.com/
 Olafur Ingthorsson: http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/author/olafuring/
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