By this time, the Cloud should be no stranger to anyone. Sure, not everyone may be familiar with the technical intricacies of the Cloud, but in general most know its virtues. Ease of use, access from virtually anywhere that has internet connection, affordability and convenience, and this is all true. It was first adopted by personal/home users and is being slowly embraced by the enterprise space. But what about those that find themselves in between these two groups? Small businesses, freelancers, digital marketers and the like? A lot, it seems. For this middle group of users, the Cloud is much more than a quirky, trendy tool as seen by home users, or something to be wary about as seen by large corporations. It has become, perhaps, the best tool to enter their lives.
In general, the Cloud is often perceived as a storage solution. It can be used as the main storage site for files, information and data, but it is often relegated to the role of backup, and it fills this role very well. The Cloud is not your ordinary storage center or virtual hard drive. Its various attributes make it one of the most secure, efficient and convenient ways to keep data secure. Due to the simplicity of most Cloud services, these characteristics are often overlooked.
First there’s the method of storage. Freelancers can save their work to a folder that is designated to sync with their online Cloud service. This way, the user has a copy on their device, then when the device is connected to the internet, it will sync with the Cloud and create a duplicate of the file online. In effect, this creates a backup file that remains secure in an offsite location from the original. If changes are made to the original, the changes will reflect on the copy when the device next syncs. This also increases the data’s magnitude of availability, for if the device were to be compromised or suffer a catastrophic failure in any way, and access to the file was impossible, then the user can always jump online and access the file stored on the Cloud.
Security is a hot topic these days, and rightfully so. These days it is not uncommon to hear of a device or a company falling prey to the whims and tactics of a cybercriminal. For the freelancer and digital marketer group, the worst of these types of cyberattacks comes from ransomware attacks in which the criminal denies access to a file, folder or system until a ransom is paid (usually through Bitcoin or some other cryptocurrency). However, by storing a file behind the highly secure confines of the Cloud, a user is able to ensure that these ransomware attackers will never hold any power over them, for they will always have access to their information.
And this is just Cloud storage! There are other Cloud based services as well such as business applications which help a business, particularly one-man shows (like freelancers) or small teams (like digital marketers). These applications include word processing, spreadsheets, and such. Instead of investing a significant sum of money on proprietary software specifically for this use, these small (and often cash strapped) businesses can utilize the more economical cloud business apps to do their work on. The same goes with Cloud business phone systems, that can be used from their desktops, laptops and devices, practically negating the need to install or register a landline…ever.
The Cloud has provided the freelancer, the digital marketer, and the small business owner with a flexible, functional, efficient and cost effective means to compete with larger businesses. There are currently several very good and reputable Cloud services in the marketplace, and many of them offer free (albeit limited services), but for many who find themselves in the small business category, this is good enough. And, should they ever find the need to expand the range of services currently available to them by going from free to paid, then it is only a matter of a couple of clicks to get it done. In a nutshell, the Cloud offers these individuals with the ability to easily and affordably scale their Cloud infrastructure.
From a human resource and tech standpoint it decreases the need to maintain a IT department by removing exposure to so many IT problems. Corrupt files are easily dealt with on the web, as they are scanned by the software for errors upon upload. The files are secure behind the Cloud services encrypted firewalls. This means that instead of investing in the hiring of several IT specialists, the small business can allocate that budget elsewhere in the business, perhaps in the acquisition of even more business.
From a teamwork perspective, the Cloud is a godsend. By giving team members access to the Cloud and the files within, a single team can collaborate (albeit virtually) and work on their assigned tasks remotely. Not only that, but any changes that they make will be reflected almost instantaneously for their teammates to see. Can someone say productivity bump? It was already previously mentioned, but one of the Cloud’s greatest attributes is its ability to be accessed from almost anywhere. Since the Cloud lives on the Internet, users can access it from work or home workstations, from their mobile device while on the go, or practically anywhere with a reasonable broadband signal.
Finally, it gives the humble freelancer or digital marketer a way to tackle with the management of big data. While enterprise level companies dedicate entire teams to the management of big data, smaller corporations can utilize the powers of Cloud storage and business apps to do the heavy lifting for their small teams.
The truth is that the Cloud is not likely going anywhere anytime soon. Indeed, the future is bright for the Cloud with new services, new companies and new solutions being offered on an almost regular basis. And, as it gains more traction in the enterprise sector, users can only expect better, more refined and more efficient Cloud solutions to be come down the pipe, and all at cost effective rates.