What is the Cloud?
Many small business owners are confused by the concept of cloud computing. We often get questions such as, “Where is my data when it is in the cloud?” or more commonly, “What is this cloud computing thing and why should I care?” Well, whether or not this technology is your game, it is worth understanding. The cloud is here to stay and it has transformed a lot of industries. Small business environments are not excluded from this change.
From a practical sense, the concept of cloud computing is simple. Have you used email from a provider such as Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail? If so, you’re already on the cloud. Cloud computing stores your resources (such as hardware, software and data) at remote locations, which you then access through the internet.
When you take advantage of the cloud, instead of accessing information in servers that are housed in closets somewhere in your office building, your data is kept on servers that are distributed in different places around the country (and sometimes the world).
If you’re interested in the technical side of cloud computing, scroll down for a video that explains cloud infrastructure.
How Does Cloud Computing Work?
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 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.
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 When that software becomes out-of-date, you either need to go through time-consuming installations or updates, or purchase a new software package.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 the software is based on the cloud, the product can be updated anytime by the developers, and you the user experience the improvements in real-time, automatically integrated when you log on through the web.
The Agile Cloud
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. Not only does this increase convenience for telecommuters, out-bound sales professionals, and convention-happy CEOs, but it increases the ease with which your team can collaborate with outside consultants, graphic designers, and business partners. In this way, your own company becomes more agile as you can ramp your own capacity up or down, depending on customer demand. So, you can really start to see how this technology can influence the performance of even the smallest organization.
Best Cloud Solution for Your Business
There is no cookie-cutter solution for companies considering a move to the cloud. In some cases, business 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.
We have a great deal of experience helping organizations integrate cloud computing into their business model. We can help you get set up with cloud hosting, cloud email, or any variety of collaboration and storage solutions.
Give us a call anytime if you want to talk cloud technology. We’re happy to explain in more detail, even if you’re just in the research stages. At the least, you shouldn’t have to ask, What is the cloud? anymore.
Here is a list of cloud-related services we currently offer.
- Cloud-Hosted IP Phones (VOIP Phone Systems)
- Microsoft SharePoint
- Hybrid cloud storage and collaboration for small and large business
- Cloud-based backup and recovery for Mac & PC
- Cloud platform solutions for building web applications
- Private clouds
- Media hosting
- Test & development
- WordPress hosting
- Website hosting
Give us a call today, if you’d like to discuss your options around cloud computing! 1-800-344-9018
Here is a video about the technology and infrastructure behind cloud computing, if you’d like to learn more: