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Small Business

Take advantage of the cloud while minimizing the risks


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I’ve heard some small business owners refer to concerns about reliability in cloud computing.I think it’s important that you understand these risks and limit them as best you can.

For a quick refresher, cloud computing ranges from web-based email, to centralized storage, to online productivity applications like QuickBooks.   By placing these services in the Cloud rather than on your hard drive, you can access them on-demand from multiple locations, and adjust the services you subscribe to as your business grows.

On the flip side, web-based services inherently have the potential to experience downtime.Whether it is caused by a bad connection from your service provider, a dysfunctional network device at your business, or a glitch in the application server, downtime is bad for users of the online applications.As evidenced by recent cloud incidents, downtime prevents businesses from accessing vital information, whether it be ledgers, email, or invoices.

Small businesses need to be smart about their cloud strategy, both in selecting which services to move to the cloud, and in building redundancy into their networks.Here are some tips for successfully utilizing cloud services:

1.  Perform a technology assessment within your business:Identify where your business is experiencing technology-related challenges, both related to cost and performance.Whether your telephone bill is too expensive, your word processing applications are out-of-date, or you need to add secure storage on-demand, there are cloud services to address your needs. In the areas where cost and performance aren”t issues, it may not make sense to adopt cloud services.

2.  Build redundancy into your technology infrastructure: When a device fails, there should always be a back-up plan that enables your business to operate as usual.By buying a router that offers 3G, your business can stay connected when the regular connection fails. When looking into Voice over IP (VoIP) telephone systems from your service provider, make sure to find one capable of reverting to the traditional Public Switched Telephone Network in the event of an Internet failure.

3.  Save hard copies of your data:Many programs, such as Google Docs, enable you to download and save to your hard drive.Then you can open the file with another program, such as Word

With all the risks at hand, why do businesses invest in cloud services, and why do industry experts predict the continued growth of the “as-a-service€ model?Simply put, cloud services make sense in so many ways.Check out Cisco’s newly released Cloud White Paper to see how Cisco can help customers embrace the Cloud to transform their businesses.

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