We have been hearing about “The Cloud” for quite some time now, and we are now participating in serious dialogue with our clients about Cloud ERP solutions. I just read an article that listed the top technology trends for 2013, and it predicts a cloud explosion this year:

Cloud Adoption Explodes

For some time now small businesses have been hearing about all the virtues of taking their business into the cloud. In 2013 they will finally start listening. According to j2, in 2013 small businesses faced with increased competition and less than stellar economy will look to the cloud to save them money and boost their sales. Because of that experts predict there will be an explosion of cloud usage by small businesses.

“Cloud computing is coming of age,” says Pegley. “One of the advantages of cloud based storage is the ability to access company data even if the usual office environment is not available. It can be the difference between being able to carry on business and being closed for business.”

I have not seen a lot of traction yet, though, for Cloud ERP in South Carolina. Historically, I believe the Southeast is slow to adopt newer technologies and cloud computing is no exception.

There are some serious advantages in moving to the cloud including: access to your data from anywhere, constant and consistent backup of critical company data, system redundancy and failover capabilities and business continuity. The disadvantages? A reliable Internet connection is required. Not only that, but your Internet connection better be fast. Cable might work for smaller offices, but a T1 or T3 is the most optimal choice for businesses with five or more concurrent users.

Is cloud computing more affordable than the traditional on-premises server with some level of IT maintenance from either someone internally or a third party vendor? Doubtful. In many cases, moving your computer systems to the cloud is more expensive at the onset because there are so many services being provided that many small businesses today still ignore. In an apples to apples comparison, it’s probably a wash.

The cloud is not for everyone, but I do believe more businesses will look at the cloud as an option during their next round of IT upgrades. I’m curious…has your company considered the cloud as an option? What have been your conclusions? If you’ve moved to the cloud already, what has been your experience?