The Cloud and Small Business in 2017

The Varieties of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is something we hear about all of the time.  And, in fact, it’s something that most of us use all of the time in our personal lives.  When you share a file on Dropbox or send an email via Gmail or even search on Google, you’re using cloud computing–in these cases, instances of SaaS (Software-as-a-Service).

Cloud computing got off to a much larger and quicker start with companies that focused on serving consumers.  But now the data indicates that small businesses are beginning to rapidly adopt SaaS applications, which are usually delivered on a subscription basis.  [There are other elements of cloud computing as well, like having your apps developed in Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), but much fewer SMBs use this service.  More have some of their ‘infrastructure moved to the cloud–IaaS.]

SaaS Adoption Becoming Increasingly Mainstream

The largest adoption rate of the cloud among SMBs is certainly SaaS.  While there is often talk of the internet and cloud disrupting business, a large segment of cloud-based software companies are, in fact, supporting the functions of businesses and looking to make their lives easier and more profitable.   Most obviously, there are cloud companies that are replacing traditional, on-premise work like Xero or FreshBooks for accounting.  But there are also companies offering products for automating processes that weren’t traditionally handled by software–like marketing and client engagement and solutions for data back-up and recovery.  In fact, for many small businesses, the availability of cheap, subscription-based software is pushing them into more professional, systematized routines for things like client management–alerting approaches offline to fit with capabilities and best-practices online.

One interesting trend seems to be that very small small businesses are adopting cloud services at the highest rate.  This could be driven by several factors, including smaller technology budgets, younger founders more comfortable with the cloud and not having any fears about replacing current software that employees are comfortable with.

‘Moving to the cloud’ can mean a lot of different things in different circumstances.  It can mean migrating data and existing users to cloud-based offerings of legacy software systems or migrating servers to cloud infrastructure.  For an increasingly large number of small businesses, it means simply signing up for an online software subscription.