While cloud computing may not literally involve storing data in the clouds, it's still a pretty fascinating field. The premise behind cloud computing is to enable you to store information and run applications in an Internet-accessible location—which is usually one or more of the many massive server farms around the world that have been built to enable cloud technology.
What's so great about cloud computing? While there are a few drawbacks, the many advantages of this new technology are likely to outweigh the possible pitfalls. Here, we'll take a look at what makes cloud computing so cool.
Serious cost savings
This benefit is probably the biggest attraction to cloud computing. You can use cloud service providers to access everything from software to operating platforms to entire IT infrastructures, without investing in hardware or software upgrades.
Not only does this save on software licensing fees, which can involve huge upfront investments, but it also reduces or even eliminates the need for dedicated IT staff. Many types of cloud computing service providers take care of all the maintenance and upgrades for you.
Software-as-a-service delivers full enterprise and standard software platforms for a monthly fee, rather than having to buy the license. Also, if you migrate your entire network to the cloud, you pay only for those services you need, and only the capacity and server storage you actually use.
Ample storage space
If you have to store massive amounts of data, the traditional solution has been massive in-house servers—which are not only hard to maintain, but also expensive to upgrade. The upgrading process can also lead to server downtime, which makes your business bleed money.
With cloud computing, you get all the storage space you need. Even better, you don't have to invest in a couple of terabytes just to make sure you're covered, only to discover that you're only using gigabytes' worth of space. You can easily add or subtract storage anytime, with no financial penalties.
When using cloud software or operating systems, your software is automatically updated by the cloud service provider. No longer will you have IT guys dashing from workstation to workstation, trying to apply the latest updates without disrupting employees’ work. Instead, your updates are automatically applied when logging into your cloud platform.
In addition, full cloud environments keep track of your usage. When you need more space or capacity, the system compensates automatically. The same thing happens when you need less, so you’ll save money during slow network times.
Pay-as-you-go is a great feature to have, but cloud computing is flexible in more ways than one. For example, your cloud services can easily be expanded to keep up with business growth. In a matter of a few minutes, you can add new applications, more server space, or higher network capacity.
The scalability of cloud computing keeps you from having to invest in more retail space or hardware every time you experience growing pains.
Yet another advantage of cloud computing is that you can, in fact, take it with you. Because cloud environments are network-based, you can access your business data and applications from anywhere, as long as you have an Internet connection. Any PC, laptop, smartphone, or tablet can provide access to your essential files and functions.
The issues: Privacy and security
Those wary of the brave new cloud computing frontier cite privacy and security as the main issues with this technology. Because your data is not located on-site, where you can more or less control what happens, it's plausible that security could be a problem.
Cloud service providers have plenty of encryption, data division, and other security measures in place. Just as you protect your internal infrastructure, cloud vendors must safeguard their equipment to stay in business.
The fact is that wherever there are computers, security risks exist. When deciding whether cloud computing services are right for your business, you should always weigh the pros and cons first. However, most companies can realize excellent advantages by using either a partial or full cloud environment to save money and increase convenience.