Cloud computing provides a way for your business to manage your computing resources online. The term has evolved over recent years, and can be used to describe the use of a third party for your storage and computing needs. The ‘cloud’ refers to the internet, and operating ‘in the cloud’ describes the way you store and access your data through an internet connection.
Cloud computing allows you to access your data and programs outside of your own computing environment. Rather than storing your data and software on your personal computer or server, it is stored in ‘the cloud’. This could include applications, databases, email and file services.
Cloud computing has 4 models in terms of different access and security options. Before you move your data into the cloud, you will need to consider which model works best for your business and data needs.
Private cloud – A private cloud is where the services and infrastructure are maintained and managed by you or a third party. This option reduces the potential security and control risks, and will suit you if your data and applications are a core part of your business and you need a higher degree of security or have sensitive data requirements.
Community cloud – A community cloud exists where several organisations share access to a private cloud, with similar security considerations. For example, a series of franchises have their own public clouds, but they are hosted remotely in a private environment.
Public cloud – A public cloud is where the services are stored off-site and accessed over the internet. The storage is managed by an external organisation such as Google or Microsoft. This service offers the greatest level of flexibility and cost saving; however, it is more vulnerable than private clouds.
Hybrid cloud – A hybrid cloud model takes advantages of both public and private cloud services. By spreading your options across different cloud models, you gain the benefits of each model.
For example, you could use a public cloud for your emails to save on large storage costs, while keeping your highly sensitive data safe and secure behind your firewall in a private cloud.
Benefits of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing offers your business many benefits. It allows you to set up what is essentially a virtual office to give you the flexibility of connecting to your business anywhere, any time. With the growing number of web-enabled devices used in today’s business environment (e.g. smartphones, tablets), access to your data is even easier. There are many benefits to moving your business to the cloud:
Reduced IT costs
Moving to cloud computing may reduce the cost of managing and maintaining your IT systems. Rather than purchasing expensive systems and equipment for your business, you can reduce your costs by using the resources of your cloud computing service provider.
Your business can scale up or scale down your operation and storage needs quickly to suit your situation, allowing flexibility as your needs change. Rather than purchasing and installing expensive upgrades yourself, your cloud computer service provider can handle this for you. Using the cloud frees up your time so you can get on with running your business.
Protecting your data and systems is an important part of business continuity planning. Whether you experience a natural disaster, power failure or other crisis, having your data stored in the cloud ensures it is backed up and protected in a secure and safe location. Being able to access your data again quickly allows you to conduct business as usual, minimising any downtime and loss of productivity.
Collaboration in a cloud environment gives your business the ability to communicate and share more easily outside of the traditional methods. If you are working on a project across different locations, you could use cloud computing to give employees, contractors and third parties access to the same files.
Flexibility of work practices
Cloud computing allows employees to be more flexible in their work practices.
Access to automatic updates
Access to automatic updates for your IT requirements may be included in your service fee. Depending on your cloud computing service provider, your system will regularly be updated with the latest technology. This could include up-to-date versions of software, as well as upgrades to servers and computer processing power.