As you grow your business, you will pass through a number of development stages. You might start as a one-man shop and then add a couple of workers. After your schedule has been filled up, you might start to expand your operations.
While hiring more workers is the norm, you might want to consider outsourcing functions to the cloud instead. This can save you money and might even provide more unique features for your offline or online business. Gradually, more Australian data centres are offering "Cloud Computing." Why does outsourcing to the cloud make dollars and sense?
What is the Cloud?
The sky is full of clouds, but why would you want to use those to expand the features of your business? Aren't clouds full of rain? What advantages does Cloud Computing offer for a small business?
First of all, it might be important to review how the regular Internet works. Each of your computers has an IP Address.
Think of your Australian house address (i.e. Suite 42, 101 Elm Street, Langley Vale, New South Wales 2426.)
All snail mail will be sent to your physical house address. If the address is wrong, it will be "returned to sender." The same is true for your business' physical computer.
Your Internet server will read your IP Address. The number of "geo-location" advertisements are increasing. This occurs because your IP Address, which includes your physical Australia location, is displayed. Therefore, adept online companies can send you ads from local stores.
The Cloud is Fluid.
Just as you cannot really identify "one location" for the World Wide Web, you cannot really identify "one location" for the cloud. Perhaps, the cloud is a virtual location.
"Cloud Computing" is defined as Web-based tools, applications and features not dependent upon a geographical location. So, "what does that mean in plain English?"
Unlike the normal Internet, which bases services on your IP Address, the cloud can provide you with services "wherever-you-are." You might be waiting for a bus, using your smart phone and access a remote app from the cloud. The cloud offers "anywhere functionality."
Instead of hiring a full-time Information Technology (IT) staff, you could hire IT professionals from the Cloud. This community of technicians can continually train on the latest developments for the industry. As a tight-knit group, they can develop more complete, deep and special Web developer skills.
You can also find numerous software programs on the cloud, which can add much-needed functionality to your website. In fact, "Adobe decided to discontinue software you can actually buy," moving it to the Cloud as subscription-only "Software as a Service" (SaaS). The cloud is an online resource, which does not have a brick-and-mortar storefront.
History of Cloud Computing
Being the first to try a new product or service, can be a little scary. Those with a pioneering spirit, like Crocodile Dundee might be very good at it. These first adopters might be insiders who can fix any of the bugs. This is how "open source software" works.
Still, some might be hesitant to try the cloud, thinking it is too new. But can you really classify something that is 18 years old as "new?" In actuality, the cloud is not really new. The development of "Salesforce.com" in 1999 promoted the delivery of enterprise applications, using a website. This was a key development in the history of the cloud. Since "Saleforce.com" might be the #1 Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software in the world, the cloud must be doing something right.
Another "ground-breaking" cloud brand was created in 2002 with the Amazon Web Services providing "storage, computation and human intelligence." The 2006 Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) allowed companies to rent computers to run applications. Overall, the Amazon Web Services Cloud operates 42 "Availability Zones" in 16 geographical regions around the world (including Sydney).
The development of "killer apps" by Apple, Microsoft and Google has also advanced the cloud. Some apps are only available on the cloud.
Future of Cloud Computing is Here
As one of the IT industry leaders and Cloud Computing juggernauts, Amazon (serving 1 million cloud clients) has continued to promote this as the "wave of the future." Amazon Chief Technology Officer Werner Vogles believes the cloud will connect your lights, doorbell and garage door.
During his Sydney address, Mr. Werner Vogels explained how the "Internet of Things" would change the lives of all consumers - "Almost anything that draws a current will eventually become connected to a network .... You will be able to talk to your oven, switch it on, and set the temperature to 200." Smart appliances and cloud computing can make your life easier.
How can your business automate functions?
The "Cloud Computing Future is Here," according to Amazon. You could purchase smart machines, which could be connected to cloud-based software. You could even use the digital assistant Siri to complete boring, redundant daily business tasks, which are necessary but not the most efficient usage of your valuable time.
Case Study of Qantas Saving Money Using Cloud Computing
Qantas was able to use Cloud Computing to calculate its "ability to launch a new direct flight from Sydney to Dallas [Texas, United States]." Instead of taking four months with only desktop computers, it only took a matter of hours using cloud computers. This shows how special projects can be completed much faster, when you use the cloud.
Australia May Become Cloud Computing Battleground
Our Australia is at the centerpiece of a changing world order. When high level e-Commerce firms want to build global data centres, they naturally select our continent. We benefit from our historical legacy with the United Kingdom, along with sharing the English language and currency of the United States.
Western e-Commerce firms, like Amazon, can find a strong consumer market in our land. Its Amazon Web Services datacentre in Sydney is an industry leader. But, now there might be a "new sheriff in town."
West Amazon versus East Alibaba
As part of its continued expansion, the Chinese-based Alibaba e-commerce powerhouse opened a new datacentre in Sydney in November 2016. Firms can access "cloud data storage, processing, enterprise middleware and other services" from this Alibaba datacentre. With Amazon and Alibaba competing, everyone wins.
Macroeconomics teaches that competition is good for everyone, leading to more affordable and higher quality services. In 2016, the Amazon datacentre was down for 10 hours due to a storm. Before Alibaba arrived, there was no datacentre alternative for "mission-critical" operations.
Alibaba plans on opening three more datacentres in Dubai, Europe and Japan. General Manager of Alibaba Cloud Global Ethan Yu said “the four new datacenters will further expand Alibaba Cloud’s global ecosystem and footprint, allowing us to meet the increasing demand for secure and scalable cloud computing services from businesses and industries worldwide.” Alibaba sees a bright future in Cloud Computing.
What's In It for Me?
When you run a small business, you might have a tight budget. You can't hire every Tom, Dick and Harry to complete all your tasks. You also might want to add a special feature for a short period of time to promote a new brand or branch.
As we see the top IT firms invest more money in Cloud Computing - Amazon, Alibaba and Adobe - we must realize that there is some key benefit to this system. Once you closely examine some of the top cloud features, you cannot argue with their beneficial characteristics. Here are the primary advantages of Cloud Computing:
Legal, Accounting & IT
Don't you want to find the most cost-effective solutions? CEO of Platform Computing Songnian Zhou said that "[m]any IT professionals recognise the benefits Cloud Computing offers in terms of increased storage, flexibility and cost reduction." Lower services can lead to lower prices, which can increase your sales.
Whether you are a small business or multinational corporation, you can benefit from the cloud. The small business might be able to compete on innovation, flexibility and agility, especially if you use drop ship software. You can change your product line much faster and offer a more "personal touch" than the cold, corporate giants.
Fill in Gaps
But, you also might have weaknesses in your business model. There is no reason to panic, you can review the apps, software or services on the cloud to "fill in these gaps." This allows you to compete with the "Big Dogs."
Some small companies are using Chat Bots for customer service. Paying someone to man your telephone lines, 24/7/365 is not cost-effective for a start-up. You can also add new features to your website as you grow and compete in new markets.
Add scalability and remote access. You don't need to pay for a full enterprise solution, just pick-and-choose the functions, you need. Some apps and software are "only available on the cloud." Mobile customers demand access anywhere.
Finally, you can outsource the necessary functions of legal, accounting & IT. You might want to hire a virtual CFO to help with your budget. This can also prepare your books for when you want to raise capital.
Cut Out The Middle Man
Another option is if you have "some skills" in a particular field, like accounting. You could simply use the same products that outsourced bookkeepers are using: Adobe, Citrix, Crunchboards, Expensify, Quickbooks, Receiptbank and Xero. If your client suddenly requests an online meeting, do you have the infrastructure to make it happen?
Citrix Systems' GoToMeeting allows users to quickly download an application that creates a remote meeting environment in which participants collaborate regardless of location. The only hardware and software requirements are a desktop or mobile computing device and an internet connection." Don't embarrass yourself by saying "I can't do that." And don't "break the bank" building an infrastructure that will only be used one time.
What should be outsourced?
To win an athletic competition, you must know your strengths and "play your game." The same is true for the business world.
Outsourcing to the cloud allows you to focus on your "core competency." This ensures that you and your employees make the most efficient use of your time. "What should be outsourced?"
Outsource the "non-revenue producing functions," like accounting, legal and IT. These back office functions are necessary, but might not be the best use of your time. CRM is also an option, since the cloud has storage advantages. Free your mind from the minutiae and concentrate on the big picture.
Nothing can really compare to the cloud. Just, look up in the Australian sky to see it. Without the cloud's rain, there would be no crops.
Likewise, the Cloud Computing sector continues to advance. Who knows, Amazon's Mr. Werner Vogels might be right? Furthermore, Alibaba sure thinks that the cloud is pretty important.
At least, outsourcing to the cloud gives you options. At most, you can gain remote access, speed, agility and cost reduction. For businesses of all sizes, outsourcing to the cloud makes dollars and sense. See what is available and decide, if it is right for you.
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