Cloud computing is a popular concept these days for both large and small businesses as it provides many benefits over traditional internal server-based computing.
But what is cloud computing? And what exactly is a cloud?
Cloud computing is the next stage in the Internet’s evolution, providing the means through which everything – from computing power to computing infrastructure and business processes to personal collaboration – can be delivered as a service wherever and whenever it is needed.
The “cloud” in cloud computing can be defined as a set of hardware, networks, storage, services and interfaces that combine to deliver aspects of computing as a service. Cloud services include the delivery of software, infrastructure and storage over the Internet (either as separate components or a complete platform) based on user demand.
It sounds complicated but it really isn’t. Many individuals have already used cloud computing without even knowing it existed.
Google products use cloud computing to deliver services or applications to customers. Services such as Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar and Google Photos are examples of applications that reside in a cloud. Users access these applications online and the applications are hosted in a cloud, which means they don’t need to be downloaded to a computer to be used. The server space that is required to run these applications is located in cyberspace and any updates to these programs are done through Google, not through an internal IT team.
Cost-savings is one of the main benefits of cloud computing. Rather than purchasing servers, software, data centre space or network equipment to run and maintain a program, building owners or managers can outsource those resources and purchase the required infrastructure on an “as need” basis. This is a particularly great benefit for smaller companies that do not have the financial resources to invest in complicated in-house computing technology or the means to employ a network administrator to maintain them.
Since the applications and stored data reside on the Internet, they can be accessible anywhere there is an Internet connection. What’s more, they can be accessible by any device that has an Internet connection, which means tablets and mobile phones can also access the data stored within a cloud. This may be a benefit for larger firms that have multiple offices in different locations since all applications and files can be pulled from a single source rather than separate servers.
The cloud is scalable and can grow with a business. Basically, it’s elastic. This means resource allocation (such as the amount of server space or bandwidth needed to power an application or website) can get bigger or smaller depending on the demand. Elasticity enables scalability, which means the cloud can scale upward for peak demand and downward for lighter demand. An added bonus is most service plans only require payment for services used, which translates into more cost-savings in the long-term.
Full-time professionals maintain the infrastructure of the cloud. As a result, there is less chance of downtime. Security updates and performance enhancements are done on a regular basis and do not require downtime since usage demand can be diverted to another server while updates are taking place.
Carissa Drohan-Jennings is the director of marketing and communications at Landlord Web Solutions.