Using cloud services can help small to medium businesses save money by reducing the amount of infrastructure required such as computer hardware, software licenses, support resources and the constant battle of keeping all these up-to-date.
As you have read already, or perhaps even witnessed if you attended our recent Office 365 session, deploying cloud applications is no longer something overly complex or expensive, and it allows your business to focus on what it is good at – looking after it’s customers and making money.
Cloud computing has come a long way and all the major players are now offering some level of cloud productivity, granting users access from anywhere in the World.
The beauty of deploying the Microsoft Office 365 solution gives you additional benefits, compared to the competition. You and your users are already, I hope, using Microsoft product suites, so the learning curve and migration is limited. User experience is fairly straight forward too, as the tools / applications offered have almost same capabilities as the standard product suite.
All that said, there are a few other services that some users find very appealing. These have some benefits, but they all require you (and your users) to register or buy additional services. However, they do provide you with the capability of working in the cloud.
Here are a few of these online tools. There are plenty of other tools out there, but these are some of the better tools.
iWork; Apple’s answer to Office 365. The objectives of the iWork suite is similar to Microsoft, but the tools and menus are very different. The learning curve is too high and wouldn’t be my choice for a corporate productivity suite. It could perhaps suit individuals or home users.
GoogleDocs; Google’s free Office suite, which looks very similar to Microsoft Office, hence the learning curve would be less steep. However, please remember that all the documents would be stored on a central Google server, so your privacy might be a lot less secure. Probably more suited students and home users.
DropBox: Allows users to store, share files and edit files in the cloud. You still need to have a productivity tool such as Office installed, but the files are stored in the cloud. It does have offline capability. The first 2GB are free, but then you pay a fee monthly/annually for additional storage.
You can use any of these tools while on the road, as long as you have internet access.
At the end of the day, you are very likely to pay for any of these services, if you intend on using them for corporate use. My suggestion, in order to save end-user frustration and transition headaches, stick with what you currently use – BUT, go into the cloud. It makes it a lot simpler for your organisation and you can indeed save money on the infrastructure.
Yes, you are still asked to pay a monthly/yearly fee, but keep in mind:
- The provider is responsible for the support and up-time
- You no longer have to consider backing up your email and documents
- Little or no training required for your community