Cloud computing is everywhere and many of us are using it without even realising. If you use a web-based email service like Hotmail, or a file-sharing application like Dropbox, then you are already an experienced user of cloud technology.
Businesses of all shapes and sizes are seeing the benefits of using cloud technology. According to a report carried out by Deloitte, Small business, big technology - How the cloud enables rapid growth in SMBs, companies using the cloud grow 26% faster and are 21% more profitable than their peers who don’t. The report also states that 85% of the SMBs surveyed that use cloud technology believe it enabled them to scale their business and grow faster.
The cloud allows people to store, manage and process data, as much or as little as required, via a network of remote servers hosted on the internet rather than a personal computer or a local server.
Businesses no longer have to maintain an advanced IT infrastructure, or purchase and install expensive software, and most cloud-based services are delivered on a pay-as-you-go basis which reduces up-front costs.
Cloud computing creates a virtual and flexible way for organisations to share and connect to their data wherever, whenever. For example, employees are able to access data from home, while on holiday or via the commute to and from work. Documents and files can be synced and shared across multiple users and devices, such as laptops, smart phones and tablets.
In spite of the many benefits, however, there are some areas for concern mainly surrounding data security. It is vital to remember that everything stored on a cloud-based system is really being stored on the internet. This makes data easily accessible, but it can also be accessed by the wrong person. So if a business’s cloud system is hacked into then any sensitive or confidential data is at risk of being compromised. However, cloud suppliers usually take security precautions that exceed what most businesses can do in-house.
Unfortunately, cloud computing does depend on internet connectivity and a good internet connection is vital in order to use the cloud effectively, so if a company suffers from frequent outages or slow internet speeds then it will be difficult to connect and access anything stored on the cloud.
Despite these concerns cloud technology still has great potential for the future of IT. Barak Regev, Head of EMEA Cloud Platform at Google, who took part in a Bloomberg Enterprise Technology Summit recently, said that cloud represents “the next cycle in computing”.
Moving a limited number of IT functions to the cloud is a good way to see how cloud computing works for real in your organisation and judge the advantages and pitfalls for yourself. If in doubt, search for the cloud provider you are considering using online and read any customer comments. Also, for extra peace of mind, look for a cloud supplier which regularly subjects its systems to independent security audits.