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Cloud computing has become very popular in all industries. It generates opportunities for growth and innovation, especially in terms of efficiency. According to a 2014 report by Digital Business, Rethinking Fundamentals, it's predicted more than 60 percent of businesses will have half of their infrastructures on the cloud by 2018.

Organizations considering moving data to the cloud need to be knowledgeable about what they're getting into. There are a variety of things to consider, including cybersecurity measures, opportunities the cloud may provide and what questions to ask potential cloud providers.

What can the cloud do?
Cloud technology allows businesses to store data separately from their own networks. Since a data center takes care of the information, organizations don't have to worry about updating software or conducting any maintenance. The cloud also provides the option of allowing employees to work remotely, as it may be used anywhere with an Internet connection. Workers can access data through their personal devices and work in real time from wherever they are, whether it be in transit, at home or in another country.

According to Forbes, data storage is the most common use for the cloud among small businesses. Backups and recovery systems keep information safe so companies don't have to worry about losing anything. However, the source added that it's a good idea to do local backups of cloud data as well.

That being said, cloud services does more than just store data. Forbes highlighted how the cloud helps businesses evolve their Web presence. Building and maintaining a webpage has never been easier with the cloud, thanks to analytic tools for monitoring traffic, dashboards for website updates and built-in mechanisms revolving around executing efficient maintenance.

How to pick the right cloud provider
Dan Allaby, director of Managed and Cloud Services, Avnet Technology Solutions wrote a blog post on that highlighted several questions businesses need to keep in mind when looking for a cloud provider. Cost model is the first aspect companies need to review.  Different cloud offers have various methods of payment, including purchasing services by the month or the hour. 

One downside of cloud services is how much organizations have to rely on providers. Companies need to ask questions about the availability of the cloud and whether or not there is scheduled maintenance and downtime. Checking statistics and the history of providers can help businesses determine how reliable they are, according to Allaby.  A services portfolio may also help enterprises find out what kind of services and features providers offer.

Allaby also insisted on reviewing the security measures of the cloud. For healthcare providers, look for cloud providers focused on HIPAA compliance, privacy and security.   Analyze how information can be accessed,  managed and deployed to employees through the system. Cybersecurity should always be a top priority. Basics such as firewalls, email encryption and antivirus software must already be in place for any company, but implementing the cloud opens the possibility of risks. To decrease the chance of threats, organizations must research in detail what kind of security cloud providers offer.

Once businesses determine which cloud provider fits their needs, they can reap the benefits of this fantastic technology. Employees can access data remotely, which grants companies the opportunity to offer work-from-home benefits. Employees can be more efficient, enjoy secure options for their data and corporate systems and create better relationships with clients and their co-workers. The business benefits in more way than one by adopting a cloud system.

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