If you read our guide on Cloud 101 Basics it is likely you have a rudimentary concept of what the cloud is and why it is important to a business. But how, more specifically, do businesses use the cloud?
Here are a few popular ways companies use the cloud:
- Big Data Analytics & ERP
What if you could find emerging patterns and trends in customer shopping habits and tailor your business to your target audience? Big data analytics can provide this information to businesses.
Companies compile large sets of data from sources like web server logs, social media, machine data, surveys and many other areas — this information can then be used to create market strategies, to improve customer services and make informed business decisions.
Another thing big data analytics can measure is ERP.
What is ERP?
ERP is an abbreviation for Enterprise Resource Planning. ERP essentially lets you integrate data and reports from across all of your business units in one place — you won’t have to manually merge reports from each unit, and your system will be able to support multiple functions used by different business units.
This sort of software can be used to automate core business operations, give a real-time view of data instantly, and improve customer service.
Traditionally, ERP software was hosted on-premises, but now a business can use it in the cloud. This saves a company money, as the software is maintained by the cloud ERP hosts. In addition, you:
- Improve the deployment speed of ERP software
- It is continuously updated by the provider, so you don’t lose data due to lack of integration between versions
- Cloud ERP software performs better
The cloud enables the progression and ease of big data because it allows users to share, access, and input information all in one place.
You can learn more about big data analytics and the cloud through this article by Technology Advice. If you are interested in learning more about ERP, check out these articles by NetSuite on ERP basics and the differences between on-premises and cloud ERP.
2. Testing & Development
One of the most common ways that a business would use testing and development in the cloud would be for their website — but what is the benefit?
An important and primary aspect to consider in cloud testing is that more people than just developers can contribute to the site before it is live to the public. This allows non-technical staff and stakeholders to check for things such as the accuracy of the site’s content, or consistency of market messaging to ensure it all aligns with the company vision.
Another primary way cloud testing can help in website development is in quality assurance checks.
How does this work?
Well, if a developer only tests a website on their own computer all of the data is stored locally on this computer, creating a false testing situation. In the cloud, a developer is able to simulate an environment akin to what the user might experience. This process is called remote hosting. It takes time for data to travel over the internet and therefore, remote hosting more accurately replicates the realities of the internet when a developer loads a test site in the cloud rather than on their computer.
This is just a basic overview of one way in which the cloud is used in testing for business, but to discover more comprehensive overviews of other means of cloud testing see the articles here and here.
3. File Storage
Having enough storage can be difficult for all of your data, which is why the cloud has been a growing trend for businesses.
Instead of investing in a larger hard drive or another local storage device, saving your data in the cloud maintains it in a remote database. To save your information to the cloud, you need one server that has a connection to the Internet — from there, you (the client) sends over all the files you wish to be saved to this remote database via the Internet. When you want to access your files, you connect to the remote database through the Internet again.
What if the remote database fails, which thus prevents you from regaining your files?
That is why cloud storage systems have hundreds of servers where the same information is saved across all of them; this is called redundancy so that if a server needs maintenance or anything else that would prevent access to it, you will still be able to access your files.
For more information on how cloud storage works, you can read this article here.
Your business can benefit from the optimization software provides across a variety of areas like cloud storage and billing — but where do you even start to look? CUE is here to help: we have already researched and curated some of the best solutions for you, with your small business in mind.