Cloud Services are typically defined as software and services that are virtualized and delivered virtually from the cloud. Cloud services reduce infrastructure management headaches, are scalable, and you only pay for what you use. There is no need to make a huge investment up from for cloud services, and they are very small business friendly. As we move further into the cloud era, you are going to see almost every software package virtualized and delivered from the cloud as companies get smart and find this as a new way to fatten the bottom line.
For micro to small businesses, Cloud offerings are extremely attractive because they are very affordable, and help you avoid hiring an IT staff of your own. Most of the top 25 cloud offerings available today are available for between $10-60 per month, which is impossible to beat by deploying your own internal IT infrastructure.
Here are our 25 favorites:
1). AutoTask — Autotask is a cloud based service desk ticketing software that also manages employee time, projects, and project time. It’s open source, community based, and easy to scale throughout your organization.
2). OfficeTime — Another great time app that logs employee time automatically as they work, auto-generates invoices and automates many employee tracking tasks that are usually monotonous and grueling.
3). SageOne — A project management mainstay that is quickly gaining popularity among small to medium sized businesses.
4). Citrix Sharefile — Citrix Sharefile has quickly jumped out and dominated the secure file sharing niche within the cloud storage market. It allows companies to secure their files internally if they want, or host them on the Citrix cloud, or both!
5). Adobe FormsCentral — FormsCentral gives you the ability to create forms for user interaction and data gathering.
6). DocuSign Pro — Helps automate the process of getting clients to sign on the line which is dotted! Great for real estate, contracts, or any business that requires customers sign documents virtually from anywhere.
7). Office 365 — Cloud based Exchange, Lync, and Sharepoint. It is said that Office 365 aims to reduce your need to maintain Microsoft infrastructure internally, and they are already integrating their offering with your local active directory.
8). Citrix GoToMeeting — Nothing to host internally, very easy to use, this mainstay of video sharing comes complete with a built-in audio bridge and new webcam sharing technology. HDFaces brings you face to face with clients, customers, and colleagues.
9). Adobe Connect — Adobe’s stab at competing with Citrix GoToMeeting is gaining some ground in the community, although it is a bit more expensive and less well known.
10). Gliffy — Low cost alternative to Visio for making diagrams, flow charts and visual aids.
11). Mindomo 5 Premium — Project management software delivered from the Cloud for brainstorming, managing ideas, and delivering projects on time.
12). Salesforce.com Professional Edition — One of the leading offerings of CRM software in the industry for putting your sales force on the cutting edge.
13). QuickBase — Affordable offering from intuit if you need a quick, easy, and reliable database alternative to some of the more expensive offerings.
14). Box — 5GB of online storage with synchronization capability for users who need online and offline storage options.
15). FreshBooks — Accounting, invoicing, billing, and financial tracking software all in one.
16). Quickbooks Online — One of the leading accounting packages out there is now available online and through the cloud. Much cheaper than buying the software for local installs, and no infrastructure to manage.
17). Intuit Online Payroll Plus — Payroll software available from the cloud, if you need do your own payroll rather than outsource it to a company like Paychex.
18). Abukai Expenses -- Expense reporting software for all of your employees virtualized and vended through the cloud.
19). SkyDrive — Microsoft’s offering trying to compete with Citrix Sharefile now offers online storage from one of the biggest names in the industry.
20). Google Drive — Yet another file storage offering with synchronization capabilities.
21). RebitPro — Cloud backup solution that is quick, easy, and cheap.
22).PureCloud -- Virtualized security software that lets you handle risk management and many other security tasks online through the cloud.
23). Lynda — Cloud based training for your employees to keep their digital skills on the cutting edge. No need to hire and maintain a trainer or classroom, your employees can now do all of their required training online in one location
24). Deskone — Citrix Xendesktop VDI delivered as a cloud service over the web. There are several companies offering virtual desktops through the cloud now, and we just pulled this one off of Google. This technology is going to eventually eliminate the need for most employees to have locally maintained desktop PC’s, and the technology allows them to work remotely when they need to as well.
25). Carbonite — Online backup software that is easy, automated, and secure. Quickly becoming a household name in online backup delivered from the cloud.