With many software options touting the benefits of the cloud, you may find yourself in the awkward spot of wanting to agree with the leading IT companies but also confused — what is the “cloud”?

To start off, the term “cloud” was chosen back in the 1990s to describe networks which are composed of computers and storage devices elsewhere that were managed by people in another place. Essentially, it’s a nebulous word to denote something in IT that is someone else’s problem. This transforms software from products to services. These services are transferred over the internet, thus the name “cloud”, and, thus, do not need to be installed in your on-premise servers.

The cloud has two ends: the “service” end, which is the provider, and the “user” end (AKA you). Data can be stored in three different ways by the service end: in the public cloud, the private cloud, and the hybrid cloud. First, the public cloud is an array of external servers managed and fully operated by the service provider and is the most economical and a decently flexible option for business. A private cloud a means that your own IT staff hosts and manages the infrastructure and servers — this makes it a more costly choice, but one that can be altered to suit your company best. The last alternative is the hybrid cloud, which is a combination of both the private and public cloud.

O.K. that’s cool and all, but how does it apply to you as a small business owner?

Cloud computing could be a very interesting prospect for you because you are no longer left out in the IT field: software services in these aspects like storage, platforms, infrastructures and such used to be primarily only available and affordable to larger corporations due: now, these IT services are made more available more easily to smaller businesses. As the availability to small businesses for cloud-based computing increases, this makes it an option that is time and cost-effective.

The most common example of cloud-computing software you will come across as a small business owner is SaaS (Software as a Service). Briefly put, SaaS tools offer your company their services like a subscription. For example, Microsoft 365’s form of the cloud is that they sell their own virtual servers to customers that they manage to offer their software (like Word Online) and file storage.

In 2017, 65% of data center traffic is cloud-based: by 2019, it is projected to be 83%. Need more reason to get on the cloud-computing train? Well, in a survey 61% of small businesses use cloud-based services, and 5% plan on adding such solutions to their business — and only this is expected to grow by over 20%. If you haven’t started yet, it’s time to begin making the transition to cloud-based services: it may seem daunting to try something so new and seemingly expansive, but it will benefit your small business immensely in the long-term.

Need suggestions for cloud-based service software, but aren’t sure where to start? CUE is here to help: our expert team has researched and curated some of the best solutions for your small business, so you don’t have to spend so much time scrolling through page after page trying to find the most optimal software for you. So, why wait? Start today, and see how you can start saving yourself time and money with CUE.