The internet has for years been an invaluable tool when conducting business. Just as the advent of the internet led to revolutionary changes in the business world, a new application of that technology is making similar waves. Cloud computing is providing companies with advantageous opportunities never thought of before, and it’s only spreading farther. One recent survey says 80% of large companies in North America are already using cloud computing or are looking into it. Becoming part of this new revolution will prove beneficial for consumers and businesses alike.
What is Cloud Computing?
In its basic form, cloud computing is the ability to store data and programs over the internet, while also being able to access them. Whenever someone refers to the cloud, they’re most likely talking about the internet. The technology has been around for a while, but the greater availability of and access to the internet has led to more widespread use of cloud computing.
Cloud computing differs greatly from regular computing. Before, all computing was done locally. The hardware would all be on the closest computer, software would be downloaded, and people would work off of whatever hard drive they had. With cloud computing, that’s no longer necessary. Instead, machines owned by another company run the programs and store the data. As long as users have access to the internet along with proper authentication, they can run these programs from their computer and save information.
Chances are, you’re already very familiar with programs and applications that take advantage of cloud computing. Many of Google’s services, like Google Drive and Gmail, are run off of the cloud. You don’t have to download the Gmail software in order to use it, and your emails and Google documents aren’t saved on your hard drive. All you need is an internet connection and the system’s interface software, which at times might only be a web browser. Dropbox is an example of a hybrid service that stores your files online as well as locally.
Why use Cloud Computing?
There are good reasons so many companies are turning to cloud computing. For one thing, it’s a relatively easy way to save money. Businesses no longer have to pay for software licensing fees for every single computer their employees use. Cloud computing also makes for greater efficiency at work. Now programs and applications can be accessed at any time from anywhere there is an internet connection. With the rise of smartphones and tablets, this makes conducting business faster and easier.
Cloud computing also allows for businesses to save money on IT support. If another company is mainly in charge of maintaining the hardware and software, they’ll have their own IT crew that can handle any problems that arise. If hardware is streamlined, then there would also be fewer problems compared to more complicated networks.
Businesses are also using cloud computing in conjunction with other developing technologies, such as flash storage. With flash storage, companies can offer computing processing at real-time speeds, while also giving faster data access. This higher performance is sought by many businesses when comparing flash storage vs. hard drives. But though flash storage brings faster processing to the table, the vast bulk of storage will be handled by cloud computing, due to lower costs and ease of scalability.
Concerns for the Consumer
Though cloud computing offers some promising potential, there are a number of concerns that have surfaced. One in particular is the issue of security. By using cloud computing, consumers are sending potentially vital data over the internet. That leaves the data vulnerable to hackers. There’s also the fact that businesses are leaving their data in the hands of other companies, which could lead to data loss and data leaks. Cloud computing companies, however, are making strides to shore up their operations and secure the stored data along with providing safer data transfers.
Even with those concerns, many consumers are now taking the less expensive approach and using cloud computing for business. Consumers are seeing how much easier and accessible it is to store and compute over the cloud, leaving much of the worry over software and hardware to the cloud computing companies. With more companies moving to the cloud, expect to see it become a fixture of the ever expanding business world.