Cloud Computing: Is It For You?
You’ve probably heard the term “cloud computing,” but perhaps you’re not familiar with exactly what it means. Generally speaking, cloud computing means using IT resources like infrastructure, platforms or software over the Internet.
Chances are, you’re already using “the cloud” for certain personal and business computing — you just don’t think of it that way. For example, Shutterfly, Gmail and Salesforce.com are all cloud applications. You’re storing music, photos and data out in cyberspace rather than on your own desktop, server or network.
For businesses, cloud computing has several potential advantages:
Cost savings —
Think of using the cloud as “renting” your technology. You don’t have to invest in major hardware and servers, or build out a climate-controlled computer room. You simply “pay as you go” for what you use.
Your cloud provider takes care of data storage and back-ups. Your data is housed in a secure facility with built-in redundancies and stringent access requirements.
Upgrades and network maintenance are not your responsibility. You don’t have to stay on top of bugs or security fixes — that’s all taken care of by your cloud provider. If you need more computing resources, server space can be added quickly and easily.
Business continuity —
Because your data is stored off-site, you can access it from any location. If there’s a disaster at your office, you won’t lose your precious data and resources.
Of course, it’s important to perform due diligence when considering cloud computing. For example, you’ll want to look at the cloud provider’s quality of service agreement, disaster recovery capabilities, storage limits and security history. How is their network performance? How will they protect sensitive data? Can you get all of your data back if you want to change providers?
Some predict that within ten years or so, a majority of business computing will be done via the cloud. So now may be the time to see how this might work for your business.