What is Cloud Computing?
Put simply, Cloud Computing means that your computing resources live outside of your computer or physical premises.
What’s All the Fuss About?
Cloud computing is the key driver behind a new emerging economy based on lower costs and higher productivity than before: an economy holding great potential for smaller, agile businesses. The promise of the Cloud is that it enables all sizes of companies to benefit from the economies of scale that until now only large corporations could afford.
What is the Cloud?
The idea may seem strange at first, but the chances are that you are already using the Cloud if you use an online web editor for your website; host your website with a hosting company, or use a web analytics package to measure web hits. Even if you don’t have a website, the simplest forms of Cloud computing already give you remote access to your email, files, photos, online calendar, and instant messaging (IM).
Access to Data
The Cloud makes a lot of sense for those of us who can’t afford or don’t need our own server, but it can go further than that. For example, web conferencing and IM applications store your contacts and details online and can be accessed from any computer running the client software, or often with just a web browser. Email can managed from your PC, your phone or a web browser – any time, anywhere.
Applications in the Cloud
Stepping beyond basic data storage, cloud applications enable business systems such as finance and accounting packages, CRM or HR systems to run externally too. These kind of cloud applications together are called Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, and are typically accessed via a web browser.
With your business applications hosted remotely, there are real cost and efficiency benefits.
- No capital outlay on software or hardware
- Predictable annual running costs
- You have the peace of mind that your data is protected and backed up by a service that will not be affected by anything happening to you physical premises
- Time and labour saving automatic upgrades that don’t need to be downloaded or paid for outside of the software subscription
- The ability to grow and scale your IT systems easily as your business grows
- And perhaps most important of all, you get to focus on what you do best: running your business, not running an IT operation
And the Downside
The potential risk of keeping company data externally is security. Most service providers take this risk very seriously and use highly-encrypted communications and storage systems – it’s worth checking when shopping for providers.
Consider too the financial risk: This is a young market with lots of new service providers competing for a share of the market. If your provider runs into financial problems, your service may be compromised. Check to see what protection you have in that situation.
There is also the imperative to be connected to the web when using SaaS applications – not always possible for the mobile worker or anyone who experiences broadband downtime for any reason.
How We Can Help
At Connectegrity we have partnered with Microsoft, one of the most stable and financially secure companies in the world, to ensure the strictest security and resilience of all of our Cloud Computing offerings. All of our services include:
- Built-in antivirus and spam filtering
- Highly secure data access for users via HTTPS
- Geo-redundant data centre architecture
- 99.9% scheduled uptime backed by a financial guarantee
And, unlike some other vendors, we believe that the combination of Software plus Services (S+S) provides the best balance of benefits and risks. Unlike SaaS, you get the best of both worlds. Your data lives in the cloud, but smart client applications enable you to continue to work when disconnected, then automatically synchronise with the Cloud when you are next online. You don’t need to do anything at all!
(p.s. The image at the top of this post links to a great 3 minute video from Common Craft explaining Cloud Computing “in plain English”. It’s a great one to share around your company if you are trying to socialise the Cloud Computing concept).