It’s 2016; anyone associated with the tech world, or even a non-techie internet user, has (at least) heard of cloud computing. But not all of us may know what it really is, or why everyone’s talking about moving to the cloud. What does any of this mean? Let’s break it down.
What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is a kind of Internet-based computing that provides shared processing of resources and data to computers and other devices on demand. Cloud computing and storage solutions provide users and enterprises with various capabilities to store and process their data in third-party data centers. It relies on sharing of resources to achieve coherence and economy of scale, similar to a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network.
Does it do you any good?
Oh, definitely! Cloud computing has transformed the IT world with the amazing benefits it offers.
- It allows you to set up what is essentially a virtual office to give you the flexibility of connecting to your business anywhere, any time.
- It has reduced IT costs – rather than purchasing expensive systems and equipment for your business, you can use the resources of your cloud computing service provider.
- Your business can scale up or scale down your operation and storage needs quickly to suit your situation, allowing flexibility as your needs change.
- Having your data stored in the cloud ensures it is backed up and protected in a secure and safe location.
- It offers greater collaboration efficiency – if you are working on a project across different locations, you could use cloud computing to give employees, contractors and third parties access to the same files.
- Access to automatic updates for your IT requirements may be included in your service fee. Depending on your service provider, your system will regularly be updated with the latest technology.
Wait, what’s the catch?
Anything that offers so many benefits must have some drawback. And you’re right, moving to the cloud is not all smooth sailing.
- Cloud service providers take care of several clients each day, and hence can become overwhelmed or come up against technical outages. This can lead to your business processes being temporarily suspended. Also, if you are offline, you will not be able to access any of your applications, servers or data from the cloud.
- Cloud service providers implement the best security standards and industry certifications. However, storing data and important files on external servers could open up risks. Using cloud-powered technologies means you need to provide your service provider with access to important business data.
- Although cloud service providers promise that the cloud will be flexible to use and integrate, switching cloud services is something that hasn’t yet completely evolved. Organizations may find it difficult to migrate their services from one vendor to another. Hosting and integrating current cloud applications on another platform may cause interoperability and support issues.
- Since the cloud infrastructure is entirely owned, managed and monitored by the service provider, it transfers minimal control over to the customer. The customer can only control and manage the applications, data and services operated on top of the cloud, not the backend infrastructure itself. Key administrative tasks such as server shell access, updating and firmware management may not be passed to the customer or end user.
Most agree that the benefits of cloud computing clearly outweigh the potential shortcomings. Service providers are becoming increasingly more secure and reliable. Businesses of all sizes, across the globe, have moved their operations to the cloud and are better for it. Would you move your business to the cloud, or are you afraid of falling right through? Tell us in the comments!