In the business world, there are many that would not have anticipated the exponential growth of cloud industries. But even without a global pandemic restricting the physical movement of millions, cloud services are gradually becoming invaluable to all of us. According to Cisco, cloud centres will process as much as 95 percent of data centre traffic by 2021.
The great potential of cloud services includes Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), which provides software services from the cloud. Services known as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) enable organizations to move their servers, storage and networking to the cloud. Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) means they do not need IT hardware as server resources can be provided on a virtual basis. Such cloud services as these have become much more common in the last decade.
We are all familiar with cloud computing giants like Amazon, Microsoft, Salesforce, Google and Dropbox. But there is also a range of smaller cloud services providers that can be especially useful to the smaller enterprise, and with affordable prices. It can be useful to open our minds to the greater possibilities available beyond the big names.
Small businesses can also be taken forward with help from the right people. It’s in your best interest to find an IT support firm in London or your local area that is experienced and reliable and can assist with cloud strategies and cloud-related issues.
Digital Ocean is an IaaS provider that can act as an excellent alternative to AWS. It enables the creation of virtual machines that can be added to with various resources. The in-house term used for these is ‘droplet’, and the processing power, RAM and region can be specified. The prices for droplets and spaces start from $5 per month, and plans are scalable.
Asana is a project management application that manages projects and tasks throughout teams and connects conversations, tracking and reporting. One of the best features of Asana is that it makes the managing of projects much easier through improved transparency and accessibility. All documents can be easily embedded for the collaboration of all participants. There is a free plan for up to 15 members, then a paid plan with extended features for $9.99 a month.
In object-based cloud storage and end-user backups, Backblaze is a low-cost alternative to the major players. This has cloud backups that can be left alone, rather than cloud sync. This starts from $5 per computer per month. B2 is the name of an object-based cloud storage service that comes at a lower price than Azure and Amazon S3, but with comparable features. There are also regular reports on data centre issues and hard drive reliability.
This is a cloud-based spreadsheet and database that acts as an information manager similar to Google Docs, Trello or Evernote. Data can be stored, structured, shared with other participants and collaborated on in various formats. The app comes with a wide selection of templates for organising projects to your preference. Airtable has a free version in which you can manage up to 1,200 elements, and a paid version that begins at $10 per month.
A managed IaaS solution that can operate alongside other IaaS platforms, such as AWS or Digital Ocean. They can help with the setup of virtual servers as well as the configuration and customisation of the apps that run on the server. They also provide excellent customer service. Plans start from $10 per month, which includes one virtual core, 1TB storage and 1GB RAM.
Inbound marketing is the means of attracting interactions through social media, SEO, content creation and other customer activities. HubSpot integrates a range of services like mail list management, SEO, social media monitoring and landing pages, on the same platform. The basic plan is free, but each service is charged at an extra individual price.
This platform undertakes the management of mailing lists with a clear and user-friendly approach. It provides sign-up templates and other tools for incorporating mailing lists into a website. It can also be easily integrated with other tools, such as blogging systems and shopping carts. There is now an opportunity for automatic advertising in the Google network.
MailChimp has a free version that provides for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails. After this the paid plan is dependent on usage.
Twilio provides the ability to add messages and voice services to cloud apps, including voice, chat and two-way SMS messaging. This platform is mainly used by software developers to use in web projects. The platform brings all of the required back-end communications infrastructure, and developers only need to add the code. The pricing is on a pay-as-you-go basis, with fees based on the number of messages and calls.
A virtual Private Branch Exchange (PBX), Cloudphone offers centrally located phone systems to businesses. It is a cloud-based software solution that removes the need for physical phones, boxes or wiring. It provides automated attendant services, conference calling, routing calls, business voicemail and business phone numbers. There is no free plan available, but the paid plan starts at just $12 a month.
Drip is a marketing automation platform, which is named after the practice of drip marketing. A series of messages are sent to customers, each with a different purpose. The service also integrates with a range of lead capture tools and shopping carts. The marketing strategies used by Drip are an excellent way of driving customer engagement from cloud-based service. There is a free plan for up to 100 subscribers, then a paid plan that begins from $43 per month.
With such a wide range of cloud services on offer at low costs, small businesses have much more capabilities immediately available to them. These give more opportunities for businesses to focus on their core, and the ability to scale when there is the need. In many respects, the future lies in cloud technologies.