Computing that uses the Internet is called cloud computing. The name is based on an analogy that compares the Internet to a cloud. In cloud computing, a cloud service provider delivers services to clients, including the use of servers, storage space and high-end software. When you, as an individual or business owner, sign up for a cloud service, these services are delivered to your computers and devices via the Internet.
A popular example of cloud computing is the use of Gmail. As a user, you can view all of your emails on your local desktop via a web browser. However, this information doesn’t come from your local hard drive, but from Google’s servers that host your email account services for you. Still, from your perspective as a user, typing out an email in your Gmail account looks and feels no different than typing out a document on an MS Word document residing on your hard drive. However, the data is pulled from completely different sources: one remotely, the other locally.
Still, while individuals can experience the benefits of cloud computing in a small way, cloud computing is having an even bigger impact on businesses than you may realize. Here are some ways that cloud computing is affecting supply chain management companies, small businesses and web-design businesses.
1. Supply Chain Management
The cloud’s impact on the supply chain is streamlining how the SCM industry works. Supply chain management encompasses the oversight of information, materials and financial transactions involved in any form of raw or finished product distribution. In short, it’s the logistics involved in the supply of goods from a supplier to a manufacturer, from a manufacturer to a wholesaler, from a wholesaler to a retailer and from a retailer to the consumer. Consequently, managing a supply chain involves a massive amount of coordination and integration within companies, as well as between them. Now, this complex chain of distribution is becoming much easier to manage thanks to the use of cloud-based apps and platforms.
2. Small Business Growth
Cloud computing has leveled the playing field when it comes to computing. Before the advent of the cloud, large companies were the only ones that had the budget to buy the finest hardware, the latest software and set up the greatest networks. They were also the only ones that could afford to hire a top team of IT professionals to make sure that their elaborate infrastructure was well-maintained. However, all of this has changed. A small business doesn’t need to invest in a sophisticated computer system; it can simply rent it. Moreover, the rental terms are flexible. A company only has to pay for the services it needs and uses, and it can do so month after month. When business slows during a down period it can scale down its usage, and when business peaks, usually during a holiday season, the business can scale up its bandwidth needs. The use of cloud computing has all but eliminated small businesses’ previous struggles of working with obsolete servers or cheap, buggy software.
3. Website Prototyping Tools
Cloud computing has made it easier for developers to get their hands on the right tools for the job. Website architecture development used to rely exclusively on expensive desktop-based tools. This required an expensive upfront investment, as well as the need for upgrades as the software improved. Now, however, there are a number of cloud-based website prototyping tools on hand. What’s more, their numbers are increasing all the time. These are so cost-effective and feature-rich that the demand for desktop-based tools very well might fade in time. If you’re a developer, the wide range of online options available at a budget-friendly subscription rate will enhance the quality of your work with the latest set of tools.
In conclusion, the advent of the cloud has been nothing short of a miracle. By renting IT resources rather than owning them, companies don’t have to invest in servers or software, nor do they need to employ IT professionals for maintenance. This shift from owning to renting computing resources is transforming industries like supply chain management, all kinds of small businesses and highly-specialized careers like website architecture development that rely on cutting-edge tools. And this is only the beginning of what the cloud will eventually be able to do.