More and more over recent month’s people have been talking about “cloud-computing” but what is it?
Online storage isn’t a new thing, it has been around for a long time now in the form of Google Docs and other similar programs, and there has always been a certain amount of scepticism on how secure it can be.
With the advent of the “cloud” systems this debate has only evolved, not disappeared, so how can you find out if it is the right answer for you and your business?
What is cloud computing/storage?
It is everywhere you go, on TV offers, in Magazines, on the radio – but what does it all mean, what is this mysterious “cloud” that everyone is talking about.
Simply put, Cloud Computing is the next evolution of the usage of the Internet – providing a way for everything, from computing power, to IT infrastructure, applications, business processes and personal collaborations – to be delivered to you as you service wherever and whenever you need it.
The “cloud” is the set of hardware, networks, storage, services and interfaces that combine to deliver various aspects of computing as a service. This is done over the internet based on user demand.
The four essential characteristics that define cloud computing are:
- Elasticity and the ability to easily scale up and down the usage
- Self-service provisioning and automatic release of resources that are no longer required
- Application programming interfaces (API’s)
- Billing and metering of the service if it is a pay-as-you-go model – ie most storage clouds.
Because of its flexibility, many people are choosing to use the cloud as its end users don’t need to know anything about the technology, they simply log on, it removes the responsibility for maintenance as the cloud service provider is the one responsible for this.
How can Cloud Computing help my business?
As has been noted above, cloud computing is a very flexible option which is why it appeals to companies and businesses.
Because of the nature of the cloud, it makes controlling what is installed on internal networks much easier as if you issue something like a Google Chrome book to your employees, all the programs are cloud based, removing the need and ability to install un-wanted programs onto your hardware.
Also, because the major systems are hosted on the cloud, the “end user” (your company) isn’t responsible for keeping them updated, so it can reduce your costs for the software and the personal to keep it maintained.
Cloud computing can also be used to enable you to store documents securely off site in a manner that is accessible to all in your business, even those in remote offices without you having to expand your onsite network.
This can work out cheaper, and also gives you a measure of disaster recovery that onsite storage won’t give you.
Another, less obvious way it can help your business is that many training companies use cloud technology to make their courses available to people whenever and wherever they are.