Submitted by: Karen Del Vescovo, General Manager, Mid-Atlantic States District, Microsoft Corp.

Cloud computing, which is, simply put, a way of accessing software and services over the Internet (also known as the cloud) rather than through local servers, is quickly becoming a favored method of computing with many businesses. Perhaps you’re already using cloud computing solutions or are still in the process of deciding if and how they could help your business. In either case, the evolution of cloud-based technology is still in its early stages, so knowing a bit more about its advantages and how it’s impacting other local businesses can help you determine how best to harness its power within your organization.

There are many benefits of cloud computing, including:

  • Flexibility:  The cloud gives you a tremendous degree of choice – you can decide when, where and how your solutions run. You also can pay for them either through a subscription-based plan or by purchasing a license for a Web services suite.
  • Reliability: Troubled by the chance that a network failure or your own careless mistakes could jeopardize your business data and information? Housing your data in the cloud provides you with a dependable backup plan should the worst scenario occur; some cloud solutions even offer 99.9 percent uptime.
  • Mobility:  Your workers can access cloud-based services anywhere they have an Internet connection, an advantage for business decision makers looking to enhance or begin remote working programs, as well as companies with field workers or employees that spend most of their working hours traveling or working at customer sites.
  • Integration:  When adopting cloud-based technology, you don’t have to overhaul your existing IT infrastructure. Cloud services complement on-premise software and many businesses are finding that blending the two strategies best meets their business needs.

As businesses adopt cloud computing solutions, a ripple effect of benefits also ensues. A recent survey conducted by 7thSense Research and sponsored by Microsoft examined the attitudes of IT decision makers (ITDMs) across the U.S., including those in Philadelphia, toward cloud computing and found that the cloud is helping to ignite a growing IT services economy, as well as new businesses and jobs in local markets.

Businesses of all sizes are highly reliant on vendor partners to bring the cloud into their organizations – in fact, 40 percent of Philadelphia ITDMs said they would be more likely to purchase a cloud solution if they could work with a local certified cloud vendor.

The survey also found that nearly 60 percent of ITDMs in Philadelphia are investing in cloud services, a positive sign that local businesses are – and will continue to- realize the advantages that come from leveraging the cloud.

If you haven’t yet investigated what the cloud can do for your business, now is the time to find out. It has the power to streamline your business’ operations, allow you to innovate in new and game-changing ways, and even contribute to the health of the local economy.

Karen Del Vescovo serves as general manager, Mid-Atlantic States District, for Microsoft Corp., and resides in the company’s Malvern, Pa., office. For more information on what the cloud can do for you, visit www.microsoft.com/cloud.