Cloud Computing

More businesses are moving their enterprise applications to the cloud to lower costs and streamline business operations. Cloud services are built on scalable servers backed by leading database experts in the world; cloud application development is advancing as rapidly as the hardware and networks that push the tech sector forward. Businesses that leverage cloud computing also partake in technological advancements.

Introduction to the cloud

Cloud computing is the use of remote servers and resources for digital applications, data storage and processing. Unlike conventional software that require physical installation, cloud-based services are pre-installed and run on high-computing servers at an external facility hosted by companies like Microsoft, IBM, Google, Amazon, and more. Users can then pay to use these cloud services.

Specific cloud applications are known as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). SaaS applications differ from traditional software in that they can be accessed from any connected device, receive automatic upgrades, and don't require installation across multiple workstations. The payment model for SaaS application is different as well; instead of paying upfront software acquisition costs, SaaS apps have a monthly subscription fee that companies pay as they continue to use the service. Most service subscriptions are contract-free and have no setup or cancellation costs.

Many businesses already use some sort of cloud application like Google Gsuite. Gsuite--Google Docs, Google Sheets--exemplifies the benefits of cloud applications: it's available in-browser through desktop or mobile device application, and it automatically syncs across multiple devices and for multiple users. Gsuite is a complimentary service for Google users, but for the company's core cloud offering - Google Cloud Platform - there's a monthly fee that covers cloud computing, storage, application development, and support.

What the cloud means for businesses

Migrating applications to the cloud can help a business lower its internal IT costs. Retiring an on-premise data server alone can result in significant budget savings. Also, by transferring IT support to a cloud service provider, businesses now have instant access to services and tools for managing their cloud applications.

In terms of business scalability, cloud applications are more robust and future-proof than their conventional counterparts. Credible cloud service providers will ensure that their servers integrate the latest technologies to meet multiple industries' resource and computing demands. Established cloud providers will also implement advanced security measures using encryption, tokenization, and fraud detection algorithms to protect its services and clients.

Cloud-based business software

SaaS or cloud applications can be deployed for several cornerstone business applications: CRM (customer relationship management), ERP (enterprise resource planning), accounting, and data warehousing. Leading companies that offer end-to-end cloud enterprise applications include Salesforce, NetSuite, SAP, and SAS.

Salesforce offers a comprehensive CRM platform that includes sales tracking, CPQ, customer service and field service apps; marketing and e-commerce applications; data analytics, IoT, financial services, and more. Their solutions can be tailored for small businesses, startups, and large enterprises.

Oracle's NetSuite is cloud platform with applications for accounting, ERP, CRM, and e-commerce. Its services are frequently leveraged by B2B companies. NetSuite's scalable enterprise resource planning application covers financial management, order management, production and supply chain management, and human capital management. The company also offers SuiteCloud, a development platform that lets businesses develop their own cloud applications.

SAP is focused on IoT and big data analytics, though it also has ERP and business management solutions. SAP HANA is a data warehousing platform for real-time data processing, analysis, storage, and management. HANA's in-memory computing capability allows for faster data application processing and optimally supports connected device platform development.

Cloud-based IT systems

Most cloud service providers offer basic IT and consulting support; for example, Salesforce providers training, consulting, and 24/7 client support. Reputable cloud platform providers will also assist businesses with more complex integrations.

Google Cloud Platform, for instance, offers Silver, Gold, and Platinum cloud support plans that cover infrastructure troubleshooting, IT consulting, and IT account management services for Cloud Platform productions. Other third-party IT service providers include Zendesk and HPE. As a company integrates more cloud application, it might be worthwhile to maintain an internal cloud support team for its growing application development needs.

Overall, moving towards cloud computing is a promising step that can help businesses simplify their IT systems, streamline existing operations while supporting new developments, and stay competitive.