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Cloud solutions give startups an edge


Today's private sector is incredibly competitive, making it difficult for small businesses and startups to compete with enterprises that have been around for years and have greater flexibility when it comes to spending. Because entrepreneurs are new to the industry, executives must be careful with their investment strategies, as wasting time, money and effort on unreachable goals can leave them in a vulnerable position.

Fortunately, cloud computing provides small firms with the unique ability to improve operations without spending as much as it would cost to experience these benefits with traditional solutions. Because the technology can be accessed through a hosted PBX system, analytics, storage and a number of other services, the flexibility of the cloud supports a wide range of operations, making it an affordable offering for startups.

A recent study of roughly 1,300 U.K. and U.S. businesses by Rackspace Hosting and the Manchester Business School highlighted how more than half of respondents said the cloud enabled them to improve profits. While approximately 62 percent of organizations are taking the savings they earned through the cloud and investing these back into other mission-critical aspects of their companies, roughly 68 percent are planning to spend more on the cloud in the coming years.

"The study shows just what an important impact cloud computing is having on U.K. and U.S. businesses," said John Engates, CTO of Rackspace Hosting. "It's particularly interesting that, despite the ongoing economic backdrop, half of businesses on both sides of 'the pond' are actually increasing profits and growing their business through use of the cloud. This includes investing in headcount and wages as well as driving further innovation."

How cloud services help small businesses

Using the cloud can introduce a number of advantages for small firms and startups, which is especially important in today's highly competitive private sector that forces organizations to adapt or be swallowed whole. The survey found that 90 percent of companies which started within the last three years said cloud technologies made it easier to get started and generate profits than traditional solutions. Another 52 percent said they simply didn't have the funds to afford expensive on-premise equipment when they first launched.

"Cloud computing is heralding a boon for startups at a time when they are most needed. By making high end computing resources available on flexible payment terms at the push of a button we are significantly reducing the level of investment required to set up shop," said Brian Nicholson of Manchester Business School. "It has arguably never been easier to start a business and much of that is down to the flexibility of cloud computing."

Cloud VoIP and other hosted phone systems are particularly useful for small businesses because of their scalable and agile qualities. Legacy telephony solutions can be expensive and difficult to maintain because of the large amount of equipment and generally outdated technologies.

Unlike traditional phone services, cloud offerings can support a growing remote workforce, which is especially important today during the dawn of bring your own device and other mobile strategies that enable individuals to conduct business operations outside the confines of the conventional office. Hosted PBX solutions can also strengthen a firm's disaster recovery plan, which has become increasingly important lately after Hurricane Sandy and other natural phenomena.

By planning ahead and replacing an old phone system with a cloud offering, startups can improve their odds of success in the coming years - a necessity in today's cutthroat business world.