It’s no surprise that the cloud has become a not-so-secret weapon for many organizations, yielding the potential for greater flexibility, higher productivity and decreased upfront investment and cost. For many years, a lot of businesses held out on using the cloud for security reasons and other concerns. However, recent data shows that cloud use is increasing. According to RightScale’s fifth annual State of the Cloud survey, hybrid cloud usage increased from 58 percent in 2015 to 71 percent in 2016. Not only that, 17 percent of enterprises have more than a thousand VMs in the public cloud as compared with 13 percent in 2015.
For many, the phrase “cloud computing” is synonymous with “cloud storage,” and it’s understandable why that’s the case. The Cloud Security Alliance’s Cloud Usage report determined that cloud storage was the cloud app category with the highest number of apps. This category was also considered to be the riskiest. But the cloud is about a lot more than enterprise cloud storage.
Here are six other ways the cloud can be used by businesses:
- Mobile workspace—The cloud gives any company the tools necessary to allow employees to work from anywhere. That’s because email and any important documents can be uploaded and saved to the cloud—so work can actually be accomplished in the cloud. File sharing is another huge reason why the cloud enables a mobile workspace. When your organization uses a hosted cloud environment, it has a place to upload large or sensitive files that you prefer not to send via email. Some cloud storage providers also make it easy to edit documents as a group (even simultaneously!) using familiar tools.
- Email—Because email is considered a mission-critical application in today’s business world, it needs to be reliable. When you use the cloud (instead of hosting your own exchange server), gone are the worries about server uptime and email capacity. A service provider keeps your email running and often offers lower costs than hosting a traditional server in your office would.
- File backup—It’s imperative that organizations keep copies of their files—especially since you never know which documents, emails, etc., will prove to be valuable. Old backup systems included the use of physical discs or tapes that had to be shipped to a storage facility once full. Using online cloud storage allows for reliable file backup that’s also effortless and convenient. This is especially helpful when you’re moving offices or changing equipment, and it certainly helps to guard information against natural or manmade disasters like a flood or fire.
- Website hosting and eCommerce—In today’s fast-paced society, no one wants to wait for a slow website to load. When you host your website and online store in the cloud, the downtime is drastically reduced—and often nonexistent. Furthermore, the cloud is scalable, especially if you have a reliable enterprise cloud storage provider managing your services. That means that you can easily deploy extra resources in expected high-traffic times, such as during holidays or major sales.
- Testing and development—When your IT team needs a QA environment for a new product line or app, save money and effort by using the cloud. There your team can test load time and run simulations to see how an application would work in real time—but without actually going live or having to maintain a separate QA environment.
- Business apps—The cloud has the ability to host your favorite business applications, giving your employees the ability to work anytime, anywhere. When considering cloud storage providers, be sure to select one that can host a plethora of business apps, whether customer relationship management, logistics and planning, analytics and more.
Maybe your organization is using the cloud but isn’t taking full advantage of its abilities. Focus on making your investment in the cloud count—and that means going beyond simple cloud storage.