The issues associated with business data can be addressed by cloud services. Many small businesses, like my friend's performance shoe business use email providers (like Gmail or Yahoo) to order goods such as shoes. My friend has a POS (Point-of-Sale) machine that runs a common business-accounting package that saves sales data on the server's hard drive and also backs it up to network NAS (Network Attached Storage) drive. So this covers goods (email provider), sales and taxes (business accounting), and backup. But, a dirty bomb's EMP (electromagnetic pulse) could blow out the POS machines and the NAS backup drive.
How do cloud services help?
The small business could have backup within the cloud. Backing up the business data for sales and taxes would enable a move to some other location and a quicker restart of the business. All sales order information would also be in the email provider's cloud. What about the POS machine? This is currently a technology reach, but a POS machine could be designed to run in the cloud via a browser with a credit card swipe on iPad-like large screen tablet to collect payment. Lastly, sales information is kept in the email cloud.
There are some drawbacks. In this scenario email providers, the cloud backup provider, and the cloud POS application all have access to your critical business information. There could be tens of thousands or more businesses that share the same cloud offerings. A compromise of data on one or more storage subsystems could lead to millions of compromised credit cards. Internal threats within a corporation (like Google) could be significant, even encouraging criminal forces to try to compromise a worker inside a cloud provider.
Hence there are three cloud relationships to manage: email provider, backup provider, and POS application provider. The POS cloud application must be checked to see if it properly protects (encrypt) credit card information meeting thereby meeting PCI compliance standards. The browser based POS application must also be checked for application vulnerabilities.
Separately, the cloud backup provider must encrypt sensitive backup information. Lastly, the cloud email provider must protect the all emails, thereby protecting those related to shoe orders. There may also be a need to certify cloud solution providers, proving that they are protecting data adequately. So once my friend moves to another city or unaffected location, he can quickly retrieve critical data and applications. He would have power, communications (internet and phone) and applications that run on the internet (email, POS, and backup).
In what other ways does cloud computing help businesses worldwide. It's simple really: There are many businesses that have access to power and the internet especially in the capitals of countries around the world. They only need iPad-like tablet with a browser and a credit card swipe on the tablet to conduct business. No infrastructure is necessary. It is better than the 'laptop per child' initiative because browsers running on tablets are cheaper that laptops.
In conclusion, in a disaster the cloud protects a businesses' information. But, it does not address the product supply issues or potential relocation. It does make business easier to restart, track supplies, and conduct ongoing business. It is an enabler of business. Lastly, the browser on a tablet connecting to cloud services enables profits for emerging small businesses worldwide and that is a good thing.