How Does Cloud Computing Work & What Are the Advantages?
(This article originally appeared on icorps.com)
Some of you may be laughing at us right now. Cloud computing? How 2012 of them. But for those of you still lost in the clouds (we couldn’t resist), you’re probably still not quite sure why you should really care. It seems that technology moves faster than we mere humans can blink. So is “the cloud” just another fad or is this bandwagon really worth jumping?
Our apologies…sometimes we IT companies jump into jargon mode. You might be wondering – “What IS cloud computing?” PC Mag described it pretty succinctly back in 2013: “In the simplest terms, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive.”
The “cloud” is a term and a metaphor for a centralized network of shared remote servers hosted on the internet to store and manage data as an alternative to a dedicated local or “on premise” server environment. With cloud computing, technology is about fewer lump-sum purchases and more subscriptions. Cloud solutions are subscription-based services, with everything bundled into one regular (and scalable, depending on your business needs and size) fee and are easily accessible for users via a secure Internet-based connection. Cloud providers can spread their services and equipment costs over several clients, ultimately allowing for your business to take advantage of economies of scale.
In the context of cloud computing for business, there are various models of cloud computing ranging from SaaS (i.e. Salesforce) to a Private Cloud where an organization utilizes the benefits of a Data Center but maintains control and the responsibility of maintaining this environment. The most well-known model is the public cloud, where every user company gets access to the same set of core capabilities, and cannot customize the underlying software. With a public cloud model, upgrades and patches are available automatically to all users, thanks to everyone being on common software.
SaaS, or Software as a Service, means that instead of buying new licenses and versions each time they’re released, you simply pay a subscription fee for a solution that is updated and supported consistently by the developer. Most companies today are using a hybrid by maintaining some applications onsite, but also leveraging the cloud with products like Office 365 or Salesforce.com. Ultimately, an organization’s application requirements, risk profile, regulatory requirements, and growth trajectory will determine which of models is appropriate for their needs. (See: Which Cloud is Right for You: Public Private or Hybrid?).
So again, WHY should you care? The overall value of cloud technology comes down to a sustainable, secure and cost-effective subscription model that works. [Tweet this]
Maybe a better question is: Can your business afford NOT to care? Take a look at these benefits while you ponder that question.
- Efficiency and shared costs. The savings companies gain from cloud computing tend to be very significant (often 50 to 60% ore over a period of years). Throwing 5 or 6 figures at hardware costs becomes a distant memory. Your IT provider can spread the cost of this equipment over many clients, bringing down your investment. Cloud computing lets you take advantage of everything you would have in a well-funded IT department, but at a small fraction of the cost.
- Gained performance and cut expenses. Most businesses end up using servers and equipment (as part of the cloud computing agreement with their provider) that are more sophisticated and expensive than they would ever buy on their own.
- Adaptability and flexibility. Cloud computing systems are inherently scalable, because you don’t have to buy the technology you need in one lump-sum package. You are free to increase or decrease your plan whenever you need to.
- Safer than having your hardware on-site. Your technology, customer data, and business
- are almost always going to be safer with a cloud computing system in place. Reputable cloud computing facilities aren’t just stacked with trained engineers and technicians, but also with a team of security personnel, continuous power backup, and even remote data recover equipment.
- The reality is that there are very few businesses that can’t benefit from making the move to cloud computing. It’s worth diving into. Among businesses with under 100 employees, increased business agility is the most compelling cloud benefit, followed by obtaining capabilities that would have been cost/time prohibitive. For a more in-depth explanation of these facts and benefits, download our white paper: “The Bottom-Line Facts About Cloud Computing.”