Does Apple’s iCloud have some business tricks up its sleeves?

Apple’s forthcoming iCloud service will store your documents, photos, music – all of your ‘content’, in Apple-speak – in the cloud. By keeping everything there, you should be able to access it from any device. Phone, laptop, desktop … it won’t matter.

iCloud arrives in the Autumn. It could mean big changes for consumers, who won’t have to worry about copying files between devices. But does it have business potential?

It’s nothing new, but it’s Apple

Of course, iCloud is nothing new. The cloud has been around for a while now, and plenty of companies already use it. The difference is that this time it’s Apple doing the cloud. With its track record of doing things better than anyone else, iCloud is likely to be easy-to-use and effective. That could catapult the cloud into the mainstream.

Using iCloud for business

Just like other cloud services, iCloud will allow you to access your files and data anywhere. It could be useful for mobile workers, who’ll find their files on hand no matter if they’re on the office PC or their smart phone.

It could also be a hassle-free way of backing up files. If it’s as easy to use as other Apple products, iCloud will be a simple way of supplementing on-site file storage with off-site backups.

Although it will work with Windows PCs as well as Macs, iCloud will be most attractive to companies already using Mac computers and iPhones. If your business has bought in to the Apple way of doing things then it may be a natural next step. In fact, if it’s baked into other Apple software, it might be hard to avoid.

iCloud’s drawbacks

For the rest of us, iCloud has some drawbacks for business use. Perhaps the greatest is that it seems impossible to have multiple users on a single account, which means it’ll be difficult to share and work on files together. Services like Box.net and Dropbox are likely to offer far more flexibility in this area.

There’s also been no word from Apple about any sort of service level agreement. And that’s a problem: if you’re going to entrust critical data to iCloud, you need a contract that guarantees you’ll be able to access it when you need it.

Despite these drawbacks, it would be foolish to write off iCloud. Businesses are finally moving to the cloud in significant numbers, and Apple is bound to want to capture some of that lucrative market. It probably has some tricks left up its sleeve.

Jonathan Edwards is MD and founder of Integral IT, a preferred IT support partner to many UK businesses. Jonathan has been working in the IT support industry since 1996 and is a Microsoft Certified Professional. He is actively involved with all aspects of client relationships and ensures Integral's IT support is of the highest quality possible.