Cloud computing is a buzzword that has gotten so watered down in overuse that it has become almost meaningless in the public discourse, so I will have to follow this article up with an article addressing different types of "clouds".
Technology is notoriously fast-moving. Blink and you get left in the dust. SMBs know this and have had to rapidly adapt in an environment that pits them against much larger organizations with limitless resources. This unforgiving environment is the internet, and the great equalizer is who is leveraging tools better to get their message out to the public. The last few years has seen an entry-point into cloud computing at a price that an SMB can finally buy in to. A convergence of various technologies has allowed this to happen; making technologies once thought to be strictly in the domain of Fortune 500 companies, available to the average SMB. Because of their smaller size, smaller companies may be better poised to leverage emerging technologies and rapidly adapt them to their workflow. Rather than watered-down SMB versions of the products the big boys use, smaller organizations are leveraging the same servers that their larger competition are using in order to drive down startup costs. How are they doing this? The answer is simple – renting from a private cloud.
Take, for example, the price of an exchange server. For an SMB, this used to involve investment in hardware, software, and licensing to the tune of thousands – even tens of thousands – of dollars. The price of Microsoft Office 365 varies depending on the reseller you purchase it from. At the time of this writing, a standard P1 25GB exchange account can be purchased directly from Microsoft for $6/user/month. This pricepoint, minus the need to invest in costly equipment and servers once needed to host an exchange server, gives the average SMB the rapid scalability and elasticity that once was the domain of the big boys.
The major benefit of cloud computing for the SMB should be obvious – it keeps the SMB out of the IT infrastructure business, freeing it to focus on what matters most – meeting the bottom line and servicing customers.