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Jeremy Ferkin

Cloud computing is a term that more small to mid-sized businesses are hearing each day. These businesses are expected to adopt cloud services in a big way over the next few years. Globally, the SMB cloud services market is expected to grow into a $68 billion industry by 2014, according to an SMB Cloud Insights report published earlier this year.

The term “cloud” has its origins in the early days of network design. Network engineers had to understand what devices were on the network, how they were connected, managed and controlled. To illustrate this connection as part of the design, the engineers needed a way to indicate that there was a network. They landed on the cloud symbol as a metaphor for the Internet.

The world of IT may be complex, but that does not mean that it has to be complicated for today’s business owner. The cloud can be accessed through a web browser or light-weight desktop or mobile app while the business software and user’s data are stored on servers at remote locations. Through the cloud, a business can get their applications up and running faster, with improved manageability and less maintenance. The cloud enables businesses to more rapidly adjust resources to meet fluctuating and unpredictable business demands.

The thought of utilizing cloud-based services may seem intimidating at first, but your small or medium-sized business could not only save money, it could grow. How might your business use the cloud? Think of these five ways:

Data backup. Storing your data off sight means you can breathe easier when a pipe breaks in your office and creates a flood.

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Work remotely. If you travel a lot or your car is your office, the cloud makes it easy for small business owners to create, edit and sync all kinds of information.

Sharing information. If you have offices spread out miles away or just in another room, the cloud makes it easy for all of your employees to store and share information.

File storage. If you have a lot of electronic files, or have files that are big in size, the cloud helps relieve some of the space and physical equipment you need on property.

Planning for growth. As you grow, so does the need for IT infrastructure – unless of course, you use the cloud. The cloud can easily grow with you, when you need it.

Jeremy Ferkin is the vice-president/general manager for CenturyLink in Montana and Wyoming and serves as a board member for Big Sky Economic Development. Contact him by calling 255-8309 or jeremy.ferkin@centurylink.com.

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