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What is the Cloud & What Can It Do For Your Business?

by securedatamgt | 22 Oct 2014

Cloud Storage Flowchart

Many of us have probably heard of the term cloud computing perhaps even used it ourselves without really knowing what it means. This may seem a bit bizarre as most of us use the cloud on a daily basis. Anyone who has ever checked their email online has used the cloud!

The word ‘cloud’ has fundamentally become a metaphor for the Internet, or at least that is how the term is now most frequently applied. Cloud computing is rather more complex than that and although cloud computing is a relatively new concept already misconceptions about its utility have been established.

Cloud computing involves the use of a network of severs all connected together. These servers are hosted by the Internet and are able to collectively store files and collaborate. For instance, Dropbox and Google Drive both offer free cloud storage solutions for businesses. These remote servers are able to manage and edit data from anywhere at any time. It is this flexibility that has made cloud computing so appealing for businesses.

Clouding Computing for Effective Business Strategy

Data used to be stored on computer hardrives, storing data on hardrives is known as local computing. For cloud computing to be utilized one has to be connected to the internet, it is not a case of simply storing information on the office network. Cloud computing for personal usage is fairly straightforward but for big business the story is rather different.

Businesses will often use cloud application services otherwise known as Software as a Service (SaaS). Saas will use the Internet to supply applications to businesses that are controlled by a third-party. Saas is the most popular method of cloud computing and allows businesses to have peace of mind when it comes to the maintenance of their IT infrastructure. The subscription based nature of SaaS and the fact that no licence fee is needed means that it keeps IT maintenance costs down compared to packaged software.

Cloud computing can also be applied by businesses using Platform as a Service (PaaS). In comparison to SaaS, PaaS gives businesses more control over the management of their data and applications. Although vendors will still manage networking and storage. PaaS can hugely benefit companies as it gives businesses closer control over the running of applications, whilst it still manages software and hardware updates on the company’s behalf.

Saas and Paas are being used by thousands of businesses globally and have proven to be incredibly beneficial for communication and collaboration. However, businesses must remember when using any form of cloud computing to monitor the transfer and security of their data. Information in the cloud atmosphere might travel within a single cloud environment, between clouds or over the open Internet between a company and a cloud supplier. Luckily, with the application of encryption and firewall software, businesses can be assured that wherever they are transferring data on the cloud, it will be secure.

The Future of the Cloud

No longer is the cloud just being used for data portability purposes. Companies and organisations are now discovering the benefits of backing up and storing information on the cloud. They are becoming increasingly aware of the risks associated with using external hard drives. Indeed, 50% of US government agencies now use cloud storage. Whilst data tape rotation is still a popular method of data backup, offsite storage facilities are increasingly offering their clients the option of storing information on cloud based archiving portals. This can give a company increased flexibility when it comes to the accessibility of their files and if disaster were to occur it would become a vital lifeline for business continuity.

Cloud innovation and utility is expanding. The Saas and Paas market is becoming increasingly competitive as more and more companies discover for themselves the benefits of the Cloud. The future for the Cloud looks very bright indeed.