What is the cloud?
Confused by the idea of cloud computing but afraid to ask? Here’s our best explanation of this technology which is transforming industries of all kinds–perhaps even yours.
From a practical sense, the concept of the cloud is simple. Have you used an email provider such as Yahoo or Gmail? If so, you’re already on the cloud. The data that you’re sending and receiving in the form of emails is being stored on what’s known as the cloud. You’re used to the convenience of being able to log on and read or write emails from anywhere there’s an internet connection. Now, imagine if your company data was just as accessible.
OK, so convenience is great, but what is the cloud? The cloud is really just a catchy way of describing a manner of storing your data in a highly distributed way. When you take advantage of the cloud, instead of storing your data on servers that are housed in server rooms or closets somewhere in your office building, your data is kept on servers owned by a third-party provider. These servers are usually distributed in different places around the country (and sometimes the world).
If you’re wondering “How does cloud computing work?” you might try thinking about how you use your local utilities. For example, when you use electricity, you pay a monthly bill that is based on the amount of electricity you are drawing.
Similarly, cloud computing services, such as SAAS (Software as a Service), PAAS (Platform as a Service), and IAAS (Infrastructure as a Service) operate on a pay-per-use model, which is typically billed as a monthly subscription. In the case of cloud services, sometimes you are billed a flat monthly fee, and sometimes your bill is based on your usage–this depends on the service and on your agreement.
One of the major advantages of a product like SAAS is the ease with which your software can be updated. Under a traditional model, software is installed on an individual basis on your various office computers. When that software becomes out-of-date, you either need to go through time-consuming installations or updates, or purchase a new software package.
When software is located on the cloud, the product can be updated anytime by the software developers. You, the user, then experience improvements in real-time, automatically integrated and readily accessible when you log on through the web.
A key characteristic of cloud computing is agility. In a typical setting, increased demand on your internal IT infrastructure can require the addition of servers and increasing complexity of your network. In a cloud setting, your cloud provider can allocate resources based on demand, and easily ramp up or down on an as-needed basis.
Another big advantage of cloud technology is that users can access their information from anywhere there is an internet connection. This is super convenient for telecommuters, out-bound sales professionals, and jet-setting CEOs. It also increases the ease with which your team can collaborate with outside consultants, freelancers, business partners, and even your own remote team members.
Finally, the agility and flexibility of cloud services can make your company itself more agile. The nature of these services increase your capacity to ramp your business up or down, according to customer demand. This is in contrast to the old methods of data management, which required you to purchase and configure (or decommission) servers as your data needs changed. So, you can really start to see how this technology can influence the performance of even the smallest organization.
There is no cookie-cutter solution for companies considering a move to the cloud. In some cases, businesses are comfortable moving 100% to the cloud. In other cases, a hybrid model is more appropriate, whereby the company maintains internal servers while also utilizing the benefits of the cloud. This option keeps sufficient redundancy to ensure the highest levels of security and constant access no matter what the status of your internet connection.
Want to learn more? Check out these recent blog posts: How cloud computing can help your business succeed at working remotely and 10 advantages of cloud computing in 2020.
We have lots of experience helping organizations integrate cloud computing into their business operations, and we’re happy to help you out if you need a hand. Contact us to get started today!
LimeTech is a creative tech company with a focus on innovation and adaptive change. We use technical know-how, design skills, and deep experience in entrepreneurship to help companies advance their business goals. Do you need IT planning, mobile app development, web design, or remote work solutions that will take your business to the next level? Get in touch today and find out what we can do for you.
agile cloud computing cloud migration cloud storage cost savings customer support efficiency email entrepreneurship small businesses
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