What Is Cloud computing?

Feb 05, 2015

It's a simple enough question, but one that a lot of people still struggle with.

Can you define cloud computing? Is it a single thing? A service? A product? A state of mind? A religion?

Quite simply, the term 'cloud computing' is used to describe the practice of using a network of servers to store, process and manage data via the internet. Ten years ago you would have likely stored and managed data and run applications on your machine. A program like Microsoft Word for example. Today, it is increasingly common for people to use a cloud based solution such as Google drive, allowing many people to store, edit and manage many documents in a server hosted online. The beauty of such a system is that these files can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, and can easily be shared with anyone at the touch of a button.

Cloud computing is so much more than that though. Cloud computing is a more connected, more immediate, more portable way of doing things. There are no strict limits to what can be done with cloud technology. Whether it be something simple like sharing text documents and spreadsheets with co-workers, or managing a vast intricate and dynamic database for a multinational corporation. It is merely a new way of doing things.

Cloud computing is all around us. Email is effectively a cloud service. As are popular services like Dropbox and iCloud. Cloud computing offers a great number of benefits to both business and consumer. In this post we will concentrate on cloud for business.

Is it safe?

This is probably the number one concern worldwide about cloud technology. No technology is 100% safe. The truth is though that almost all security breaches are down to the user rather than the system security itself. You can have an encrypted, secure server but if you set your password as 'password' or '1234' (these consistently top the charts as the most common passwords in the world) then it isn't hard for someone to gain entry. Indeed, this kind of malpractice was behind the recent trouble at Sony.

Is it expensive?

No, absolutely not. One of the best things about cloud computing is that it will almost certainly save you money. Previously a company might have invested a considerable amount of money in servers and an IT team to maintain them. This of course incurred an upfront cost for the servers, then you have to consider the maintenance, upgrades, associated salaries of the IT team, the cost in power usage and the physical space they occupy. With cloud technologies you can run a smaller IT team and make vast savings on running costs.
You can migrate your whole operation to a cloud based provider, or you can move certain services that will provide the most bang for your buck. Any decent provider will give you an honest breakdown of what services can be moved to cloud, and what would give you most benefit. Naturally, the more cloud services you use, the more you will need to spend - but it will always result in a net saving over time.

Other benefits

Aside from saving you money, cloud technology is significantly more efficient and will reduce your carbon footprint considerably. Another compelling benefit of a cloud service is that projects and data can be accessed and worked on from anywhere, any time. Great for employees that need to spend a lot of time away from the office, or who choose to work from home. 
You can learn more about the numerous benefits of cloud computing in this post.




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