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This time, cloud computing formed the third highest project type in the Best IT Implementation Awards for companies with <1000 employees (first two being business process mgmt/automation solutions and business apps (ERP, CRM, SCM, etc). Since IT penetration amongst Indian SMEs is still fairly low, these two project types are likely to remain there for a very long time. But with growing cloud adoption, it's important to understand why SMEs should consider it. Here are five reasons to do so, in no particular order of priority.Act5

1. Anytime, anywhere access from any device: A cloud based solution is accessible from anywhere and nowadays, from any device. This can be a boon for your sales team, as they get flexibility to work from anywhere, and don't necessarily have to come back to office to lodge their daily calls. In one of the IT projects we received, the company took back laptops from its sales force, and gave them smartphones loaded with an order processing app, which was linked to a cloud based application for real-time data processing.

2. Low infrastructure management and manpower costs: If you're using a public cloud based service, you don't need to setup a dedicated IT infrastructure in your own premises for it, thereby saving hardware and licensing costs. Plus, you need lesser IT staff to manage your IT setup, at least for routine tasks like patches and updates. Those are the service provider's headache now. You just need staff who can manage the app and coordinate with the service provider for its customization, maintenance, etc.

3. DR out of the box: If you have your apps running locally, then you have to plan a disaster recovery strategy for it. But when it's on the cloud, the uptime of the hardware is the service provider's job.

4. Greater scalability: As your application is hosted on someone else's infrastructure, it gives you the flexibility to purchase as much compute power as required. So if you're expecting a spurt of traffic on your website, purchase additional processing power to manage the load, and reduce it after the job is over.

5. Try before you buy: There are lots of cloud based solutions to choose from. Most of them offer free trials, while others are completely free. This time for instance, we've reviewed four cloud based office suites, out of which three are completely free for personal use, giving you the flexibility to try them out before deciding to buy an enhanced edition.

Lastly, it's important that you compare multiple cloud service providers against these parameters before choosing one.

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