What Is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing enables companies to consume compute resources as a utility — just like electricity — rather than having to build and maintain computing infrastructures in-house.
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It has been said that the future is in cloud computing. But what is cloud computing? Far from being related to those white puffy things in the sky, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of on your computer’s hard drive. The cloud is just a metaphor for the Internet.

You’re probably familiar with consumer cloud applications, the most popular of which are cloud storage solutions like Google Drive or Microsoft’s OneDrive.

When you access applications on the cloud, the actual computing and storage happens on the provider’s servers, as opposed to traditional applications that are stored and run locally on your computer’s hard drive.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) as SaaS

Traditionally, deploying large‐scale business‐critical software systems like CRM suites on-premise were a major undertaking. Although it gave companies total control over the application, its processes and their data, it also meant enormous investment in upfront licensing costs, besides requiring an army of IT personnel to customize, integrate and maintain. It could also take months in implementation, besides there being a learning curve with employee adoption.

This made CRM suites like this a significant risk, besides it being out of the reach of smaller enterprises that did not have the capital to invest in such an undertaking. CRM’s transformation into SaaS changed a lot of this.

Cloud computing for business

For the average consumer, installing an application on their hard drive means dedicating space and processing power to it. However, when you start thinking in terms of mid-to-large businesses, it gets more complicated, and a lot more costly. For these businesses, running applications on-premise meant big investments in hardware (computers, server farms and the like), high upfront licensing fees for software, and hiring a veritable army of IT personnel to install, configure, test, run, secure, and update them.

If you multiply this cost by the number of applications a business may need to keep running, it figures that even corporations with dedicated IT departments may not be getting what they need to really maximize the capabilities of their technology. What does that say for small-to-mid level businesses? 

This is why more businesses are turning to the cloud for solutions. For businesses, the term “cloud computing” is almost interchangeable with Software as a Service (SaaS), where the business subscribes to an application and accesses it over the Internet.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) in the Cloud

The best kinds of CRM software have the capability to help you manage pretty much everything to do with business administration, from record-keeping and sales documentation to HR functions like leave management.

The fact that everything is stored in the cloud is significant, as it means that the data is updated in real time. This is hugely helpful for remote collaborative efforts, for companies who have employees working from locations other than the office. It also means that the information is always up-to-date and accessible from any location, given that you have access to the internet.

Many cloud CRM applications have multi-tenant architecture – this means all users and applications share a single, common infrastructure and code base that is maintained by their provider. Because of this, updates are automatic and improvements can be made more frequently, as providers can focus on improving the central system instead of maintaining code for individual companies or users. It also means users pay only for what they need, often in the form of number of users, and scaling up and down is easy as they are not locked into lengthy contracts.

Seeing the benefits of cloud computing, many businesses are moving their processes off-premise and onto the cloud in order to take advantage of all that technology has to offer. Lower costs and less time spent of maintenance means higher ROI and more time spent on growing their businesses, instead of just running it. So what are you waiting for?