If you're not familiar with the phrase cloud computing, it has several different meanings, but the area we're focusing on today is 100% online software as a service. Some are free while others require monthly/annual payments.
I'm going to categorize the various types of useful cloud software available online, but first let's go over the general benefits of cloud computing.
- Available - The most useful aspect of cloud computing is the availability. You can access service anytime, anywhere as long as you have a computer and the internet.
- Reliable - While software installed on your computer can crash or run slow, most cloud services use less resources and are all tested and updated before release. When an update is applied, it's applied to their server, not your computer. They have to handle the issues themselves.
- Affordable - Cloud computing can offer services such as email, collaboration, and banking for personal and corporate use at little, or sometimes no, cost to yourself. Without the hastle of installation and maintenance, you are free to spend that money on other areas of your business.
- Secure - If your computer were to somehow get infected by a virus or spyware, your information would be safe from corruption and can easily be accessed by another computer while yours is being fixed. No need to backup your information, the hosting company already does that for you.
I've been using mvelopes for about 2 years now, and it has helped me get out of debt and manage money so that I can live within my means. I swear by it because it's easy to use once it's setup. Just create a budget using different mvelopes, then drop each transaction into the corresponding mvelope. Pretty simple.
Cost: $7.90/m - $13.20/m
While not as robust as mvelopes, quicken online offers basic budgeting and reporting for your personal finance needs. I used this for a while, and its useful for getting a grasp on how much you spend in each area.
Google (documents, calendar, etc)
This is just about the coolest software as a service you can find for personal use. The most obvious reason is that it's free. You can edit, share, view, and manage your documents online. You can upload your documents, spreadsheets, and presentations to the site and make them accessible from anywhere. Google Calendar can be shared and set to notify you about your schedule. Their Blogger can be used to blog for business or personal use. There are many other tools that I just don't have time to go into. Take a look yourself.
Print your own stamps from home.
Microsoft Sharepoint Online
While this requires some configuration, sharepoint online offers business grade collaboration that can be used for sharing and editing multiple documents. It also supports calendar sharing, blogs, forums, meeting workspaces, wikis, and even integrates with exchange online. Great for saving on hardware, IT, and backup costs you would normally pay for installing and maintining sharepoint on your own network.
Price: about $7.50 per user
Microsoft Exchange Online
This is a budget relief. To setup exchange on your network, you have to buy the server, the operating system, the exchange licenses, and employ full time technicians. Its very expensive to add just a couple of useful features to your messaging system. Do this offsite and you have a set monthly fee based off of the number of users on your network. No need to implement backups or redundancy, its all done by Microsoft. To see cost comparison, you can visit our site using the link above.
If you'd like to learn more about cloud computing, or better known as software as a service, please visit our site.
Hope this helps,