Cloud Computing for Small Business: The Basics

We live in an era of unprecedented technological changes, and your business needs to keep up. Switching to the cloud can give small businesses the flexibility and security they need without breaking the bank. Using cloud services also makes it easier to operate with a remote workforce.

It’s no wonder that so many businesses have embraced cloud computing. In 2020, 81% of businesses ran at least one application on the cloud, and that figure is poised to keep growing.

But how exactly does the cloud work, where does it fit in your IT support plan, and how can you fully unlock the potential of cloud computing for small business? Read on for everything you need to know.

The rise of cloud computing

Types of cloud computing

Cloud computing for small business

How can a managed service provider help implement cloud technology?


The rise of cloud computing

Simply put, Cloud computing is computing that can be done over the internet.

Until recently, businesses had to house their software and data on a physical server in their office building. Today, people can access the same software, programs, and data online. Instead of storing multiple servers and computers on-site, businesses can store what they need virtually.

The technology that makes today’s cloud computing solutions possible is relatively new. But the concept behind it dates back more than half a century.

In the 1950s, computer scientists found a way to access the information stored on mainframe computers from remote locations. Cloud computing, or at least the cloud computing basics, was born.

By the 1960s, scientists had designed a proto-internet known as the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). For the first time, this allowed computers stored in separate locations to share digital files. Eventually, scientists developed the internet as we know it today. By the 1990s, cloud computing existed, although not in the same form it appears today.

As internet connections grew faster, more reliable, and more ubiquitous, cloud computing quickly became a viable approach to storing information and software. The technology has allowed businesses to scale quickly without investing in costly, bulky IT infrastructure.

Cloud computing promises to keep expanding its offerings. The cloud has tremendous potential for smaller businesses because it allows them to change direction rapidly as they evolve.

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Types of cloud computing

There are four main kinds of clouds:

  • Public
  • Private
  • Hybrid
  • Multi-cloud

In a basic sense, each cloud type is similar. They all make computing tools available online so that users can access them from anywhere in the world—provided they have an internet connection.

At the same time, it’s essential to understand the differences between the kinds of cloud management that are available.

Public clouds

Public clouds can be used by more than one client simultaneously. They are set up by third-party providers and can be accessed by members of the public. Some clouds are free, while others charge a fee.

Generally, even when a public cloud charges a fee, it is more affordable than other cloud types. Using a public cloud also saves businesses money on infrastructure and maintenance—the third-party provider takes care of that.

However, there are security concerns with a public cloud. Unless users take proper precautions, their information is vulnerable to online hackers.

Private clouds

Unlike public clouds, which can be accessed by multiple groups of people, a private cloud is designed for use by just one business. Most of the time, the IT infrastructure needed to run the cloud is housed on-premises. However, a business can host its private clouds from a data center if that’s more convenient.

Private clouds may be more expensive to set up and maintain. They can also require dedicated employees to focus on cloud security and management. However, they are generally more secure than a public cloud.

Hybrid clouds

A hybrid cloud is a cloud computing environment that combines two or more clouds. Most of the time, a hybrid cloud includes one private cloud and one public cloud. Applications, data, and software can be shared easily between the different components of a hybrid cloud.

Using a hybrid cloud allows businesses to scale quickly. As its needs grow beyond the capabilities of a private cloud, a business can transition to a hybrid cloud and continue to expand as needed.


Multi-clouds come into play when a business uses more than one cloud computing platform, from more than one cloud vendor, to meet its computing needs. If a business is using a number of different software-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service tools from multiple vendors, then it is operating on a multi-cloud. As SaaS and PaaS solutions continue to expand and grow in popularity, the multi-cloud approach is becoming ever more common.

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Cloud computing for small business

Cloud computing comes with many built-in benefits for small and midsize businesses. Here are a few of the key advantages.

Greater flexibility

Small businesses often struggle to adjust their capacity to meet changing demands from consumers. Cloud computing makes it easy to scale up or down.

When a demand surge occurs, businesses can count on the cloud’s remote servers to offer them greater computing power. In the same way, it’s easy to scale back down during slower times. This makes it easy for businesses to keep up with their customers without overextending themselves.

Access to subscription-based software

SaaS and PaaS services are granting small businesses affordable access to cutting-edge technology. Subscription-based services run on the cloud, which means they have lower costs and don’t require maintenance or updating. And because they are cloud-based, they can be used from anywhere with an internet connection.

Data recovery

Everything runs on data these days — which means losing files can spell disaster for any business.

Fortunately, the cloud can automatically back up files so that your business’s crucial data won’t be lost in the event of a major power outage or some other crisis.


The cloud makes it easy for businesses to operate as a team, even when employees are scattered across the globe.

With cloud-based services, workers can log in and get to work from their phone, laptop, or any other internet-enabled device. This makes it easier for remote workers to stay in touch and share ideas seamlessly across multiple platforms. Remote work has become hugely popular, and employees tend to welcome technology that grants them the freedom to be digital nomads.

How can a managed service provider help implement cloud technology?

If you are considering migrating to the cloud, congratulations. The cloud can do wonders to help you grow your business. Whether you have an in-house IT department or are considering outsourcing some or all of your IT to an MSP, working with a managed service provider (MSP) is the best way to shift your business to the cloud. Here’s why.

A qualified MSP can guide you to the right solution for your business. As we’ve seen, there are several different types of clouds. There are also many platforms and software solutions available on the cloud. Which one is right for you?

The right managed IT support partner will study your business carefully and determine which technology can help your business grow and fit into your IT budgeting. Instead of rushing into the latest trends, you’ll be guided by an experienced practitioner. They can also coach you and your staff on implementing the new technology. There’s usually some degree of a learning curve when businesses adopt new technology, which is where a trusted IT consulting partner or vCIO comes in. It’s essential to have someone on your side to talk you through the transition.

Finally, and crucially, an MSP can help with any problems that may arise. If your network crashes, or if you can’t access the cloud, they’ll be on hand to help find a solution. And that means that you’ll be free to focus on what you do best: running your business.

Intrigued? If you’d like to learn more about cloud computing, start a conversation with an experienced managed service provider today.