The world of information technology is one that is constantly changing at an alarming rate. Businesses which successfully manage to keep in pace with these changes are those which are most likely to succeed while those that do not keep up end up being left behind, often disappearing from the race entirely. Cloud computing is one of the most talked about things in the world of business IT of recent years and it has become too widespread and too important that most businesses cannot afford to ignore it.
What Is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing refers to the use of IT resources, including both hardware and software, over a network, usually the Internet. Cloud computing can deliver a wide variety of IT-related services using the connected world, affording small businesses in particular many great opportunities.
You probably already use cloud computing in its more basic forms every day. Web-based email is a form of cloud computing which most of the world’s Internet users are already reliant on. Your email service is entirely an example of cloud computing in which your sent and received messages and contacts are all stored on a remote server you can access from anywhere.
Another example of cloud computing is the free and increasingly popular Google Docs. Google Docs is a complete office productivity platform which allows you to create and save things like spreadsheets and written documents online. This is completely independent of your operating system, Web browser and hardware. You can use Google Docs and other Web-based software on almost any device which has access to the Internet, even including smartphones.
Cloud computing presents small businesses with a whole wealth of Web-based software. This is known as software as a service (SaaS). Another popular service is online storage, allowing for online backup and convenient file sharing. This is known as storage as a service (STaaS). Other important areas of cloud computing for businesses include infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS.)
Why Is Cloud Computing So Important?
Many companies spend a good portion of their budgets on IT resources and these major expenses need to be handled carefully. Constantly upgrading on-site hardware and software and deploying it across company networks is no longer practical or desirable. Instead, smaller businesses in particular are moving towards Web-based services for a large amount of their IT resources.
Using Web-based software offers many advantages, such as location-independent accessibility, online storage and minimal deployment times. Since the hardware specifications and operating systems of on-site computing resources generally don’t matter when it comes to using cloud computing services, your business will have the chance to save money. Businesses which turn to cloud computing do not need to spend countless man hours constantly upgrading and maintaining their own software if it is instead provided as a service. In the world of cloud computing, all of this is taken care of by the service provider.
Cloud computing effectively eliminates many of the responsibilities of your company’s IT department, allowing you to cut down on staff costs as well as IT resources. It is available anywhere at any time, you can often enjoy better customer service in real-time and it is highly scalable without the relatively high costs involved in traditional business IT. The pay-as-you-go model available with many cloud computing services can also make it far easier to keep track of your outgoings and make your business’s IT resources more scalable than ever.
Cloud Computing’s Shortcomings
Cloud computing is not a perfect solution. In general, however, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
Cloud computing relies entirely on the Internet and, depending on the services used, it can also require a great deal of bandwidth. This problem becomes less noteworthy as Internet speeds and reliability generally increase, but you are always going to experience the occasional period of downtime. If you lost your Internet connection, you will temporarily lose all access to your online services and for this reason, cloud computing should never be relied on entirely.
Security is another concern that many people have. Some people are simply not happy about saving their important confidential data online. In spite of this, reputable companies use all of the latest security technologies and storing your data with them is likely to be far safer than storing it exclusively on-site.
In conclusion, cloud computing can offload a great deal of work from a business’s IT department, but relying on it completely is unlikely to be the best idea. The best way to move your business into the cloud is to do so slowly. As you become more comfortable with cloud computing, you will be able to enjoy even more of the many benefits that it can offer.