As Google and other companies expand their Web-based software offerings, many businesses are wondering whether “cloud computing” is a realistic option for them.
On the plus side, using Web-based services is cost-effective and, in many cases, free. Moreover, you don’t have to spend large sums of money on maintenance and upgrades, allowing for scalability right out of the gate. Cloud computing also allows remote workers to use these software tools wherever they have a Web connection.
On the negative side, these Web-based services cannot be modified to meet your firm’s specific needs. There’s also the issue of security: although Web tools have reliable protection for the most part, you are putting your “life” in the hands of a third party that doesn’t report to you. Finally, there’s the question of the longevity of cloud-computing providers — although you can count on Google to last a while.
Today, a modest number of organizations are opting to run their businesses in the cloud, particularly among government and educational institutions that are always searching for cost-cutting solutions. In the future, I suspect more businesses will lean towards Web-based software, especially as online security improves and the online tools themselves come closer to rivaling anything that can be put in a box on a shelf.