The Benefits of Cloud Computing For Small Businesses

by Jonathan Piggins

Cloud Computing is one of the newest developments in Information Technology that is really helping those with a small business. Cloud computing is an umbrella term that groups a wide range of computing and hosting services which can be accessed over the internet. However there is one service that is currently making the biggest impact and that is Cloud Hosting, which has become one of the most popular uses of Cloud computing for SME’s.

What is it about cloud computing and cloud hosting in general, that has got so many SME’s excited? One of the biggest problems facing IT departments in small businesses, especially with the recessionary pressures they are under, is the cost of running websites and servers. When times are good you need capacity and when times are tougher you may not need so much capacity. Hence, small businesses need a cheap and flexible solution. Cloud computing, and specifically cloud hosting providers, are in the perfect place to help SME’s with these issues. By offering a scalable and a pay for what you use service, SME’s can manage their IT budget without having to spend a huge IT budget.

Cloud Hosting

To put it simply,  Cloud hosting enables you to run your websites or any other computing service on one or more virtual dedicated servers. So what are the main advantages to a small business. Essentially it allows for a flexible approach to your server management. When necessary you can scale your capacity up or down according to demand and, as the provider has a much larger pool of capacity, you need not worry about having to purchase more hardware. This scalability has many benefits for businesses, whatever their size, as they may not have the expertise to know the requirements of their servers. 

Managing traffic influxes is extremely important to websites as this will undoubtedly effect a website’s performance. No E-commerce website would like to be down or running slowly when they are busy – the effect may be devastating to a business. For example, if there is a surge of press activity around your organisation, or a social media campaign which really takes off, your servers need to be able to handle the additional traffic that is arriving at your website. If you have either an in-house solution or you outsource your server to an external agency, there are only really three options available to you. Upgrade your account with your existing provider, which could prove costly and may tie you in for longer than you want. Go out to the marketplace and buy more hardware at a great deal of expense to yourselves, or wait until the traffic spikes are over. As this is only a temporary situation none of these solutions are ideal.  With cloud hosting the website owner has control over the size of the server and bandwidth. When a website needs extra capacity the website owner can choose how much bandwidth they require. When they no longer need it, it is scaled back to the approriate level.

There are many organisations that offer cloud hosting solutions, ranging from the big suppliers, such as Amazon EC2 or Rackspace Cloud. However, there are smaller operations such as ElasticHosts, who have specifically built cloud hosting solutions for the small business markeplace. You will have full administrator access to your server, free to choose the operating system, applications and configuration. You are able to scale your machine up or down using any web browser. It also gives you peace of mind as it has an automatic failover.

If you are a small business, then Cloud Hosting is a brilliant solution for those who experience spikes in their website and want to manage capacity accordingly. Cloud solutions are becoming increasingly popular and it is likely more and more people will take up the cloud hosting solutions as gives such flexibilty, cost efficiency and scalability.

Jonathan is a freelance writer who has a passion for IT.