I love it when a great marketing idea takes hold and everyone gets the craze to participate. I still think Gary Dahl was the greatest marketing genius of all time for coming up with the Pet Rock. The modern version of the pet rock in IT support services is the Cloud. So much money has been spent creating cloud buzz, and so many businesses have retooled their offerings so they can claim them to be cloud services that any of us who don't have some cloud in our lives is starting to feel left out.
For the majority of you reading this post, you don't have the foggiest (pun intended) idea about cloud computing. Neither do most of the people trying to sell it to you. Here's my free advice: Don't buy it because it is or isn't cloud-based. Your decisions should be based on what fits the needs of your small business computer network.
For the purpose of this discussion, let's say that cloud services are anything that is hosted on a server that you do not own and sits outside of your office. The plus side of this is you don't have to buy the hardware or the software. A big win! On the other hand, since the server is outside your office, you have to have more reliable connectivity to the outside world. Maybe that means a different Internet connection or even a second one to back up the first. A big loss. Add to that new monthly Internet bill the monthly fee for the cloud service. There would be no monthly fee if you had shelled out for the server at the beginning. Win or loss depends.
But now you have something critical to your business in a building that is 3 states away and you depend on people who do not know you to keep it running. Maybe that's good and maybe not. None of the major providers has been without outages of business-stopping duration. Sure, your server could die too, leaving you with a long outage so let's call this one a wash.
The point of my rambling rant is that. like most Information Technology decisions, the technical part is small in comparison to the business objectives of the decision. I'm not telling you to avoid cloud services. I use many of them. I'm telling you to decide based on your business needs after weighing all of the costs, benefits, and risks.