Once, not that long ago, cloud computing was considered an emerging technology. Its far from that now, having reached into our everyday lives, the power of the cloud has finally been realised by business and is being adopted by everything from small business to large governments and organizations. The revolution has already started.
The reason that cloud computing has already become part of our everyday life is through our own everyday familiarity with technologies such as Outlook, and Gmail. We share our photos and our information on Twitter and Facebook, and these are primarily cloud based applications. You don’t have to install them on your computer, you simply access them through a browser. The great thing about the cloud is everything is usually regular backed up, and kept in many data centres, incase the chance that this data will never be lost.
Does Your Business Need Cloud Computing?
If you are a small business, and can’t afford a cloud computing solution from day one, then you should consider cloud computing as a viable option for you. Before cloud computing arrived, to get access to an email within a business involved setting up a server, and configuring all the data on this local server. This was an expensive operation, you would have to buy state of the art equipment, as well as hire trained IT consultant. This would costs the business a large amount and money, and even for small business, this was normally a luxury that was not looked at to begin with.
Cloud computing service such as email have become so cheap that they have been offered to individuals for free. Normally these companies have many bolt on services that you can also use, so this is a way of advertising their other products to you. To setup a basic cloud email, you don’t need any complicated installed programs, you just sign up with a simple username and password, and you’re connected to the world.
THe reason cloud computing has made such good inroads in business is that it is cheap to start with, and cost effective when it comes to scaling up. This is called the barrier to entry, and for cloud computing applications it’s very cheap. You can use the money you save instead for other activities such as marketing or paying for staff. One benefit of cloud computing has been the meteoric rise of the mobile worker. This is when anyone with a laptop, and internet connection can access the cloud computing applications and the company network, and this has allowed productivity to increase in most industries that are computer based, and support sectors.
Cloud computing comes in 3 different main types:
- Public Cloud
- Private Cloud
- Hybrid Cloud
The public cloud is the most popular form of cloud computing. This is when the services and applications are provided by a 3rd party data centre company who give you access to both disk space and computing power, which comes in the form of applications. There are well known names in this arena already, such as Amazon web services, and Google apps being the most popular for individuals, as well as enterprise solutions.
A private cloud is the more expensive option and this is where everything is taken in house, and the applications and data is managed for the companies or organizations own server. This has an upside, in that you can control all aspects of your data, and security, and is favoured by companies with critical data needs such as nuclear plants.
The hybrid cloud is a mix of the above 2 methods. Normally the mix happens with the data and with the applications. The applications are hosted on the cloud provider, and the data is kept in house and stored on the company’s server. This happens largely with legacy setups that require too much migration of difficult data sets such as government agencies, and manufacturing enterprises.
Cloud services are also broken down into 3 different flavours of service. These are known as:
The most expensive of these cloud computing solutions is Infrastructure as a service. This is when the cloud provider handles the cost of the servers, as well as the networking equipment, while also maintaining the storage and backup arrangements. This is the most comprehensive of the cloud solutions and is typically on offer from Amazon in the form if their EC2 service.
Platform as a service is a cloud computing option that allows you to have a complete platform to support your business. This would normally include all the software they needed, and is a great way to lower their costs instead of paying for bundles of software that each department requires. Examples of this type of solution come in the form of Google Gc engine, and also Force.com, which both offer complete enterprise and business solutions. These apps are usually highly configure, to meet the specific data field needs of the business.
Software as a service is the cloud computing option that we are all mostly familiar with. It’s used everyday in our lives with services such as Instagram and Facebook. For business and enterprise the examples are Salesforce and SugarCRM. Both of these applications are among the most popular in their application field, and are easy to use for people already part of the facebook generation.
The Future Of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing has come of age, and the benefits to businesses and organizations that use it are tenfold. Costs are minimized, and resources are better spent on sales and marketing, the real engines of business growth instead of having to pay money to services and applications that we almost take for granted now. Thanks to the nature of the cloud backup and security is maintained as a primary focus of the provider, and it’s easy to access this data in the event of any problems. Is there really a downside to cloud computing in this interconnected world? It doesn’t look like it.