Unfortunately for legacy systems, cloud computing services are becoming the small businessman’s best friend. With speedy innovations, the cloud is steadily tearing down IT barriers, providing users with usability, mobility, flexibility, acceleration, and an overall cool vibe associated with high technology. Here are just some cloud-based tools that have radically changed the usual way we do business:
Google Drive – Free storage in the cloud
Better late than never may be the most appropriate tagline for Google Drive, which experts say came late in a market presently captured by Dropbox and Windows SkyDrive. Google’s venture into cloud storage is however a big game-changer. Both Dropbox and Windows SkyDrive have upgraded its services following Google Drive’s hard-hitting offer of up to 16TB of storage, equivalent to more than 4,000 two-hour movies coded in 720p HD resolution. Drive users pay on a rising scale — monthly fees of $2.49 for 25GB, $4.99 for 100GB, $49.99 for 1TB, or $799.99 for 16TB — but are initially offered 5GB free. Other drive features are optical character recognition (OCR) technology and image recognition.
OCR recognizes text in scanned documents and allows you, for example, to search for keywords in scanned clippings of old newspapers. On the other hand, image recognition allows you to search Drive for specific photos you uploaded, making the photos pop up onscreen. In addition, a paid Google Drive account will automatically upgrade your Gmail to 25GB. Blind users can also access Drive with a screen reader. Playing catch-up, Dropbox allowed non-members access to emailed links of files and SkyDrive integrated with Windows Explorer and Apple Finder.
RingCentral Cloud Touch– Phone systems reimagined
The San Mateo-based company impressed its audience at the DEMO conference this year when it announced the launch of its new Cloud Touch platform. Now, end-users can set-up, manage and use their phone system on their handy mobile devices without the help of an IT department.
RingCentral Cloud Touch is the first phone system that allows you to set-up a fully-functional office and telecom IT desk anytime and anywhere with an Internet connection. One of its other power features is Cloud Presence, which allows you to see which colleagues are on the phone, regardless of their location or the device they use.
RingCentral is on a roll this year. Just before Cloud Touch, the company also announced Internet Fax integration with Dropbox, Box, and Google Docs. If your company wants easy deployment of big enterprise phone system features at a small business price, RingCentral is the service provider to consider.
Microsoft Intune – PC Management and Security in the Cloud
The new version of Microsoft Intune was pre-release in April 2012, with analysts predicting the announcement to be made during the Microsoft Management Summit 2012 conference in Las Vegas. The cloud-based PC Management service provides on-premise Windows management tools and helps users perform security and management tasks remotely from a web-based console. Tasks include managing security policies and firewalls, providing IT support to offsite users, and tracking software licensing, among others.
It’s unclear when the full release will be, but SMBs will have something to watch for. As part of its BYOD (bring your own device) vision, the new Intune will provide support for mobile devices, including Windows Phone 7, iPhone, iTouch, iPad, and Android-based devices. Other updates include “automatic discover of mobile devices that access Exchange Server”, a simplified Windows Intune account portal and the ability to sync with Windows Azure Active Directory.
Cloud services are proving to be more and more advantageous for business. With the current innovations and updates being made in the cloud, it makes sense for small businesses to migrate to cloud-based solutions.
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