Thanks to technology, new terms and concepts are constantly creeping into our language. Relatively recent term being thrown around is cloud computing? It is not as complicated as it may sound. The idea is to use the Web for data storage, software applications and, well, everything. The thought of putting all your graphic design tools and content in the hands of some distant storage farm is scary, but it has advantages that out weight the negatives.
Lower costs for the software are a major plus in using the cloud and that can save big bucks for any company, but especially for a small business not equipped with a large budget.
Free and low cost software is available but for the serious artists, Adobe is the king. It does come with a price. The Adobe Creative Suite packages sells for over $1000 with upgrades around $500. Group licenses and discounts are offered but initial costs and yearly upgrades for graphic design software add up over time.
To help offset costs, Adobe is now offering Adobe® Creative Cloud™ for $49 a month. According to a March 2013 press release from the company, since beginning the service, they have exceeded 500,000 paid individual members and 2 million free and trial memberships.
Using cloud accounts to buy and download software has many advantages. First, it is cheaper to pay a monthly fee than to pay for upgrades every year. Second, the user always has access to the latest versions of each program. Third, membership in these types of services offers storage space. Fourth, users are able to synchronize any and all of their devices with one account. Fifth, graphic design support groups and publishing services are all covered in the monthly fee.
Since everything is stored on servers accessible by the Web, desktop publishing professionals can work from anywhere there is an Internet connection. The mobility associated with using cloud commuting is enormous. You no longer are tied to one desk or computer, allowing employees to work from anywhere. Wireless laptops and tablets are the norm today so running a company now means you can respond to clients, update files and get more done. The traditional 9 to 5 workday is quickly disappearing. And while some say this added burden causes more stress, the ability and flexibility to work from anywhere may translate to running a more successful graphic design business.
Collaboration tools also come with cloud services, allowing design companies the advantage of saving large files on a server. The ability to give clients and others access to the files allows them to make changes or comments, while keeping version control in check. The cumbersome and confusing process of emailing files for comment and then consolidating the corrections takes time and can result in mistakes.
Reducing the number of information technology employees and needs is another advantage. You are paying the cloud company to maintain their servers and keep them running. This include hardware upgrades and repairs, reducing the costs and time associated with IT maintenance. It may also free space in your offices, allowing for the expansion of graphic design services.
Guarding against hackers, viruses and all the other pitfalls out there in the digital world requires constant vigilance. With cloud computing, someone else worries about that, not you. Your files are safe and they are backed up. The chance of losing everything is not impossible, but much less likely.
Other advantages include using one email service, access to conferencing software and Web and video hosting services are all available through cloud computing. Some companies are also moving their Customer Resource Management tools to the cloud, allowing access to records from just about anywhere.
Like any computer service, cloud computing for graphic design firms has its disadvantages also. You are relying on someone else to make sure the files are safe and always available. Maintenance issues and server downtime may not always be apparent but for individuals and small businesses the costs of upgrades to software and hardware may be overwhelming.
As more services move to the Web and the ability to connect anywhere in the world becomes the new normal, the old desktop software options may soon go the way of the dinosaur.