Demystifying the Cloud Series: What is the Cloud? What is SaaS?

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Why cloud computing and SaaS solutions make sense for SMBs.

The rise in cloud computing for small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) has developed from a small niche into an essential technology solution. Forrester predicts that cloud software and services will increase from 22% in 2013 to 27% in 2014—with the majority of this growth being driven by small and medium sized businesses.

And while this may be true, the real question most business owners have is, “What is the cloud?” This is one of the most common questions I hear from business owners when I talk with them about technology solutions.  The term is being thrown around everywhere, but no one is defining the concept. Simply put, the cloud is the Internet! SaaS, or Software as a Service, is an extension of this, where the programs you run are accessed using the Internet, instead of having them installed directly on your computer.

“Moving to the cloud” means moving data and programs off of your servers, desktops and laptops, and having the ability to access them anytime from any Internet-connected device. Instead of relying on your IT guy or consultant to maintain software and ensure data is backed up, your cloud service provider takes care of this for you.

In reality, SaaS makes sense for many SMBs—just take a look at these benefits:

  • Cloud and SaaS reduce software and IT costs. Cost savings is one of the primary SaaS benefits for businesses. Integrating cloud and SaaS solutions can eliminate the upfront costs associated with installing, maintaining, and upgrading on-site IT infrastructure and business software applications.
  • The cloud enables an active mobile workforce. These days, businesses of all sizes rely on a mobile workforce. Cloud and SaaS solutions provide many options to more efficiently provide mobile employees with the tools they need while on the go, including faster solution deployments, improved reliability, device agnostics and constant collaboration. “Anytime/anywhere” access for your remote workers improves productivity, ultimately boosting your bottom line.
  • SaaS provides data backup and disaster recovery. Have you ever lost data because of a hard drive failure? Data backup and disaster recovery solutions continue challenge the small business owners. Businesses with no internal IT resources find that Cloud applications offer business continuity and disaster recovery options with quick and seamless implementation.

If you would like to explore some of Windstream’s cloud offerings such as: Hosted Microsoft ExchangeWeb HostingOnline BackupConferencing Solutions and Fax-to-Email, contact your trusted Windstream advisor. After all, they’re here to provide “smart solutions, personalized service” and SaaS is one of the smartest solutions in town.