Cloud computing, cloud accounting and cloud storage: the cloud has become home to most of our data. But what is it, exactly? And is it really suitable for freelancers and small businesses? It is more than that: Small business owners profit immensely from cloud software – except for one big concern.
Imagine a cloud. Now, what do you see?
To most of us, a cloud is that white fuzzy thing up in the sky. Looking at it from above through the window of an airplane, clouds look firm and cozy – as if they would catch you, and keep you safe should anything happen to that airplane. We all know this isn’t true, though: clouds basically are an accumulation of frozen crystals or water drops in the atmosphere. As dense and firm they might look from afar, clouds are always transparent and permeable if analyzed closely. The same goes for the cloud we mean when we say cloud computing.
What is the Cloud?
Basically, the Cloud is an accumulation of digital data collected on servers around the world. Just as the cloud up in the sky, the data cloud is transparent and permeable in the sense that it can be reached from anywhere else, from any other device through a digital network. Instead of storing all the information on each device, the cloud keeps the data at the same place, making it accessible to anyone who wants (and is allowed) to see them from there.
The Story of Cloud Computing
The term cloud computing dates back to the 1990ies, although it is not entirely clear where it really came from. In 1994, in an essay about the wonders of Macintosh published in Wired magazine there is talk of a “Cloud (…) where a single program can go and travel to many different sources of information and create sort of a virtual service”. In 2006, Amazon introduced the Elastic Compute Cloud, enabling businesses as well as private users to rent virtual computers. Since then, the cloud has become ubiquitous: most of us use cloud storage to share and store our data. And many of us use software run from the cloud, which is called Software as a service (SaaS).
The Cloud and Software as a service (SaaS)
Software as a service (SaaS) takes cloud computing to the next level. SaaS makes use of the cloud to store and manage data to run an entire software environment right there, up in the cloud. With an SaaS solution in the cloud, an entire application is running from a browser – absolutely no installation needed. In contrast to the cloud up in the sky, working in the digital cloud feels firm and cozy up close, too: the user experience for a program run from the cloud is no different than for a program run from your hard-drive. Except for the obvious advantages, of course.
The advantages of Cloud computing and SaaS
The cloud is so popular because it suits the needs of the future of work: it enables people to work from anywhere, any device, any time. This means:
- Freedom of work
No need for the 9 to 5 cubicle days anymore, tied to a desktop computer and a hard-drive. Instead, employees can log in and get to work wherever they are, whenever they can. Employers on the other hand can take the pilots seat, having all the necessary data perfectly visible whenever they need them.
- Always up-to-date
Cloud software is always up to date, no hassle with updates and data synchronization. Using Software as Service means outsourcing the responsibility for keeping your applications securely updated.
- No back-ups needed
If a device is lost or broken, all the data are still safe and accessible in the cloud. This is a huge plus for freelancers and small business owners who can’t afford an army of IT specialists to keep their systems up and running.
There is one big concern of cloud computing, though.
Security in the Cloud
The number one concern of cloud computing is security. Rightly so: data stored up in the cloud is transparent by nature, meaning anyone could access them – if they can get in, that is. This is why security and privacy should be top priority of any serious cloud service. Outsourcing the responsibility for data and software needs a lot of trust from the user. SaaS providers need to make sure they keep earning the trust. zistemo, for example, has taken the highest possible security measures to keep your business data safe. Freelancers and small businesses need to make sure that the service they use protects their professional data. (Read more about our security measures.)
Cloud Software for Small Business and Freelancers
Running your business from the cloud as a small business owner means trusting the cloud with sensible business data from clients, employees as well as your earnings or (god forbid) losses. As for privacy, users need to make sure their data won’t be re-used or even sold by the cloud service provider. At zistemo, it is our strong believe that your data belong to you and no-one else. Unlike other cloud services out there, we don’t have any interest in making money with your data. Selling data is not part of our business model because, plainly speaking, we think it is immoral.
All we want is to provide small businesses and freelancers with top-notch business software, make it accessible to them (and only them!) from anywhere, anytime they need it. We strongly believe in the power of living your passion and loving your work – up there, in the beautiful cloud.
Enjoy the ride!