It seems inevitable that we’re all going to the cloud but I’m going to fight it as I just don’t like my ‘stuff’ floating around out there for possibly anyone to access. I do like using a NAS and it’s similar to the cloud, it’s more of a private cloud that only I and whoever I give access to can utilize. Still though if managed correctly the cloud can be a great thing as it let’s you access all of your documents wherever you are. More businesses are turning to the cloud for the ease of use I think. Cloud computing is making it easier and cheaper to run your business. There are apps to keep your accounts, manage your customers and sell online – there are even apps to manage your apps! The cloud is making life easier for businesses, but it’s also making it easier for developers.
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Instead of worrying about diverse chips, operating systems and system configurations, today’s developers can avoid complexity and build browser-based applications. While different browsers treat front-end code in different ways, the differences are often trivial and you can always work from a single code base.
On the server side, developers can choose the environment and language that suits their needs. Changes can be pushed out to everyone in seconds, and bugs are much easier to identify and fix. As a result, customers are much more willing to pay a monthly subscription cost. After all, people are used to paying for monthly services, but they are usually only willing to pay once for a product.
Most developers’ toolkits are open source, server hardware is inexpensive, and languages like Python, Ruby and PHP make development much faster. Previously, software targeted at SMEs would have been packaged up in a box and shipped off in the mail, but today that same software is just pushed to a server. Combined, all of these factors are making software cheaper to make and distribute – and it’s driving down costs for everyone.
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In that past, it was difficult to sell software to small businesses. You could sell accounting, word processing, and other applications that had broad appeal, but it was very difficult to sell specialized products. The cost of having a sales person travel to meet the client would often far exceed the revenue you could bring in from the customer. That was why for decades we saw most software businesses primarily target the enterprise.
However, the web has changed everything, making it possible to develop software inexpensively and distribute it economically. Furthermore, online marketing now allows companies to target people using search, email and other cost-effective channels. As a result, we see cloud-based software being sold for less than $20 a month. Paying monthly is actually better for small businesses, since they often don’t have the cash flow to pay big licensing costs up front. It’s also better for software firms, since they get reliable revenues each month.
Previously, products would remain stagnant on users’ desktops for years at a time, but now we see new code being deployed for popular cloud-based apps every day. This has certainly benefited smaller businesses, but it’s also helped larger businesses. You can see this when you read about Charles E Phillips and the rise of Infor, with its cloud-based enterprise options, and you can also see it with businesses like Salesforce and Amazon. Even the most conservative customers, such as governments and banks, frequently switch to the cloud for key aspects of their IT operations. The outcome is clear – for instance, Infor recently announced double-digit growth in Q4, and IBM announced 70% year-over-year growth in its cloud business for the first half of 2013.