Spend any time working in and around the tech or digital sector and you will come across cloud computing. There is a huge amount of search volume – a quick Google search reveals around 365 million occurences of the term. Most people will have a basic understanding of what ‘the cloud’ is, particularly when it comes to storing photographs and the like. But what does it actually do, and how can using cloud storage and cloud computing work within a business to make it more efficient?
Simply put, cloud storage is the delivery of digital storage facilities over the internet. In recent years, cloud computing has grown beyond its original function of just freeing up local hardware storage, and now the cloud provides services ranging from processing power to applications and software, usually provided on a pay-as-you-go basis.
The cloud removes the need to have a network access storage (NAS) hardware or server, providing massive data processing abilities via an internet connection. This means potential storage facilities and processing power increases exponentially, as you no longer need a massive hard drive or processor to keep everything ticking over.
The cloud has certainly made things simpler and more efficient for businesses. For starters, you no longer need to own data center or infrastructure, as you can rent it in its entirety from your cloud provider. This means that you only need pay for the processing power, storage and software-as-a-service (SaaS) that you actually need, meaning upfront costs are significantly reduced, and subsidiary costs such as IT and maintenance are also greatly lessened, as updates and so on are all taken care of by the service provider.
In terms of efficiency, It is SaaS (and platform-as-a-service, and indeed infrastructure-as-a-service) that can really have a huge impact on businesses. Applications like Office365 now work via Microsoft’s OneDrive, allowing hugely improved collaboration on documents between multiple users, documents are constantly backed up and available for sharing wherever you are, and the software is constantly being updated. Entire platforms like Microsoft Azure, used by 90% of Fortune 500 companies, allow cloud-based virtual machines, SQL databases and applications to be used globally, and a business can even create its own custom apps for use across the company. With service providers such as Amazon Web Services, Rackspace Open Cloud, and Google Compute Engine hosting entire computing infrastructure services, there seems to be no limit to how far you can take your business working in the cloud. This infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) is a real game-changer, providing security, monitoring and storage services far more efficiently and sturdily than local solutions are able to.
It is obviously incredibly important to take care in trusting your business processes to the cloud. Security, encryption, compatibility and ease of use, not to mention price, are all factors that have to be taken into account, but working in the cloud can genuinely improve the way your business runs, and drive your company onwards and upwards.