Improved technology and better affordability are making it possible for an increasing number of businesses and organizations to move to “cloud computing” and away from on-site, locally managed computer servers for application hosting and document management.
It is hoped that any enterprise that fully or even partially embraced and leapt to “the cloud” did so after some prudent investigation into the benefits and risks of such a move.
The chief reasons cited today for putting off cloud computing include issues related to data availability and control, service reliability, file security and information privacy. But on the flip side of those cloud-computing “cons” or risks are many “pros” — solid business reasons to take a seat on the cloud and ride it.
For review, cloud computing is the practice of using a network of remote servers — “virtual servers,” some call them — rather than local servers to store, manage and process data. Access to these servers and the pertinent information on them is gained by secure connection through the Internet, wherever and whenever the Internet is available.
Cloud computing is more than traditional data hosting in that its services are sold on demand like a water or electric utility service, it is elastic in that a customer can use as much or as little of the services as it needs, and it is fully managed by the service provider or vendor.
While not totally inclusive, here are some leading benefits of cloud computing:
• By moving to cloud computing, a company can reduce its costs in the areas of software applications, computer hardware and IT staffing.
• Cloud computing gives small and midsize organizations access to technology and technology expertise and support that only the “big boys” used to have.
• With the elastic and scalable nature of cloud computing, a company can get started with the features and services it can afford now and later access more services as the company and its bottom line grows. Think “pay as you go.”
• Cloud-computing services and applications can be — and usually are — tailor made to each client’s specific needs.
• Access to the cloud is convenient. All one needs is a desktop, laptop or tablet computer — or even just a smartphone — and a link to the Internet.
• Business owners can operate “virtual” companies, because their employees don’t have to be tied to a central office with an on-site data server. Working from home or on the go has never been easier or more convenient.
• Because of the convenient access to information on the cloud, collaboration with colleagues, even those at great distances, is easier.
• Cloud computing provides for continued business operations and data access in the event of a disaster, whether natural (“acts of God”) or accidental (a fire, for example).
• Data security on a cloud-based server can be much better than on a locally managed server.
• File backups on cloud computers and servers are done routinely. The chances than files or data will be lost are greatly reduced.
• Testing of and moving to upgraded software is much more streamlined. If the new software doesn’t work for a company, a rollback to the previous version usually is possible.