Understanding the Cloud and Its Benefits

The idea of the cloud may seem foreign to some, but you’re likely already using it on email or a social network. In fact, consumers’ adoption of cloud-based services and the amount of information stored on these services only continues to grow. The cloud is the next bastion for the small and medium sized business (SMB) to take advantage of and to enhance their mobility and workflow.

So, what is the cloud? Simply, the cloud is a way of saving data that is stored elsewhere. If you do things like upload photos to Facebook or stream music from Pandora, you’re using the cloud. But rather than storing content directly on your computer or smartphone, it lives on a third party’s Internet server, allowing you to store photos and music, while saving hardware space on smartphones and computers, and backing up all your files.

Given the cloud’s presence in our everyday activities and its benefits for retrieving content from anywhere, it’s no wonder consumer adoption of cloud-based services continues to grow. According to Gartner, it’s the desire to share content and access it on multiple devices that will encourage consumers to store a third of their digital content in the cloud by 2016.

Consumer cloud-based services like Dropbox and SugarSync have already seen 375 million subscriptions worldwide in the first half of the year, and this number is on track to surpass the original forecast of 500 million subscriptions for the whole year. Many SMBs are starting to realize the benefits of these services, too. 

Beyond personal data storage, the cloud creates new opportunities for businesses to innovate, reduce costs and create efficiencies. For example, if you’re a small business owner, Microsoft Office 365 provides you with access to email, instant messages with presence, video and voice conferencing, and document sharing so you can take advantage of productivity in the cloud while on the go.

In a world where you may jump between your smartphone, tablet, laptop and desktop computer all in one day, the cloud makes it easy for you to access all your content when and where you want no matter the device.