Cloud Computing: Explained and Simplified
Cloud computing is basically a catchphrase which could be defined differently by various people. For most people, it’s another information technology concept describing outsourcing; others define it as a computer service bought-in which anyone can use outside a firewall; others understand it as any computing service provided over a similar network or the internet. Whichever way we define cloud computing, it would still help if we simplify it and see its advantages – so let’s do that.
Cloud computing in simplest terms is a service provided by another company which can be accessed over the internet in a very seamless way. It doesn’t exactly care about where the hardware and software are located and how it all functions, because it’s just somewhere in the cloud that the internet corresponds to.
What makes cloud computing different?
Cloud computing is basically managed, on-demand and could be private or public; the service you use is managed on your behalf. For instance, you’re using Google Documents; you don’t have to worry about updating your software and you are not required to buy licenses for a word-processor. Because of web-based services, you can focus on your work without worrying about computing.
Services of Cloud are readily available on-demand and often bought on a subscription basis; very much like buying telephone services, electricity and internet access; depending on your needs and wants.
There are three types of cloud computing, which could be distinguished through the services it could provide.
1. Software as a Service (SaaS) is using a complete application running on someone else’s system. An example of this could be Google Documents and other web-based emails. Another example is Zoho, which is known for providing a variety of office applications.
2. Platform as a Service (Paas) is essentially developing application using web-based tools in order for them to run on systems hardware and software provided by another company. Examples of this service could be Google App Engine ad Force.com
3. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is buying servers or storage over the internet; this is also known as utility computing. An example of this could be web hosting; you pay for a subscription monthly to have a hosting company serve up files for your website through their servers.
In addition, cloud computing is environmental friendly because it utilizes fewer resources like cooling systems and servers while saving up energy. Through its capability of having ten people sharing a centralized, efficiently running, cloud-based system users do not need to run their own inefficient local system.
The advantages of cloud computing are clear-cut and convincing. If you have an ecommerce website, cloud computing allows you to buy only the services you want, cutting the forthright capital costs of computers and the nonessential hardware along with it. Through cloud computing, you can easily add new applications or services to your business without waiting for your new computer to arrive. No more upgrading of word-processors and wasting time running on anti-virus software or worrying too much about hard-drive crashes.
The 411 On Cloud Computing
The process of using a network of remote servers to carry out computing activities rather than a local server or a PC is known as cloud computing. Most people have a general idea these days of what the cloud is and what it can do for them and their business, but many are still unclear as to where it began and where it may be headed. With the advancement of the internet over recent decades, cloud computing is changing how businesses operate.
The arrival of cloud computing is largely positive. For internet business it is more cost-effective (there isn’t as much expenditure on physical devices), the cloud can be accessed from a variety of devices connected to the internet – such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets – and it is far easier to recover data this way. The automatic back-ups that take place on the cloud serve to protect valuable data, whereas if an actual storage device becomes faulty, if you don’t regularly use a backup hard drive and keep your files updated, then all of that information could be lost forever.
While there are far more cloud computing pros than cons, there are a few negatives worth taking into account. If you find yourself to be in an area with little to no internet connectivity, then at worst there would be no way to access a cloud application, and at best, low bandwidth would rapidly decrease performance. However, since we now live in such a connected world, it is indeed very rare that one would be finding themselves to be without high-speed internet.
As cloud computing has started to go mainstream, online security has also had to begin to gradually improve. While the idea that your sensitive data is being stored on a remote server may be intimidating to you, in practice, this is typically a safe procedure, and controls are in place to help guarantee your security. The authentication process for users of the cloud makes it very difficult for potential attackers to gain access and, in the event that there is a security breach, cloud computers have the ability to quickly detect attacks and take action. The cloud can also restore system backups to ensure the effects of an attack are short-lived.
Cloud computing has changed internet business forever. Consider this: in the past, giant servers would have been required – all in the same location – to carry out work. With the cloud, all of that information can be accessed on a cloud application, anywhere, and on any device – that serves to make business more time efficient, and more financially efficient. As the world of online business and internet communications streamline and become more efficient for each entrepreneur and online community, we can now see that this will only be a good thing in so many ways.
The Pros & Cons of the Cloud
The future of computing is in the Cloud; or so we’re led to believe. Many organisations from huge corporate entities to small businesses are turning to the Cloud and its many advantages. But there are disadvantages too and it’s important that these are understood before your business makes the switch.
Here are a few of the many advantages the Cloud has over traditional on-site computing.
It’s expensive to purchase, use, maintain and upgrade traditional desktop software, especially if you have multiple users across a size-able organisation. The Cloud is a much more cost effective option; choose from one-off payment options, pay-as-you-go and other scale-able alternatives to save your business a fortune in the long-term.
Unlimited storage capability
Cloud providers can offer virtually unlimited data storage space. This means that you don’t have to worry about increasing your own on-site storage facility which saves you money and hassle.
Backup and recovery
Cloud storage providers will also back up your data for you and if necessary, restore it in the event of a problem. This is one less thing for you to worry about and you don’t have the risk of loss of data due to theft of computer equipment or a fire on your premises, for example.
Flexibility of software integration
Upgrades and bug fixes to software you have purchased through the Cloud are usually automatic and free of charge under your contract with the provider. You can customise your preferences and cherry-pick the options which best suit your business needs. This means that you’ll never be stuck with out-of-date software that doesn’t do what you need it to.
The Cloud allows you to access your information from anywhere, provided you have an internet connection. This is great if you travel a lot with your business or spend time working abroad.
This is a great trick. Depending what you opt for, your whole set up can be fully functional and working within a matter of minutes; much quicker than having to physically set up a traditional software suite across multiple users.
Cloud computing undoubtedly has many advantages, hence its rapid growth in popularity, but there are downsides too.
Even the best Cloud service providers experience technical hitches from time to time and you may experience downtime and outages which can be at best inconvenient and at worst catastrophic for your business.
Security of data stored in the Cloud is the subject of much debate. Providers vary and it’s obviously extremely important that you research thoroughly before deciding who to trust with your company information.
There is nothing on the internet that is absolutely 100% secure and information stored in the Cloud is just as vulnerable to attack from hackers and data theft as it would be if held on your own premises. Always make sure that your provider has robust firewall provisions and other protection in place before you hand over your data.
Cloud computing is certainly the way forward for businesses and does offer many advantages, but choose your provider with care and make sure you understand exactly what you’re signing up for before you take the plunge.
5 Cloud-Based Phone Services Myths Revealed
The FCC has been openly discussing ending the traditional public phone network, which means that businesses have to decide if they will switch to the cloud-based communication systems. Many corporations are not sure if the cloud-based communication system is right for their business. Considering today the cloud-based communication is becoming increasingly popular and your business can benefit from adapting now to the new future of communication.
One of the top cloud-based business phone services foresees a growing shift in the near future as more businesses move to cloud communication. Right now companies are reluctant to make the switch to the cloud communication system because of the misconceptions in phone quality services. There are five common myths why enterprises are concerned about cloud-based phone services and their security.
1. Companies worry about voice quality and how it will be affected.
If a company has a suitable Internet connection, any digital phone service can deliver considerably higher voice quality than traditional copper landlines. Also, voice reproduction is more accurate and lifelike than traditional copper landlines. Therefore, many digital phone users report that that voice quality sounds more natural and has less of a tinny sound on their digital service.
2. Companies worry that the technology is less secure.
Cloud-based phone services offer a higher level of security and guarantee your company your conversations are secure. Cloud-based services use compatible hardware that encrypts all voice packets sent through the network. In addition, company’s private Internet connection secure the path the packets travel making interception and decryption virtually impossible. Therefore, your company’s traditional landline is considerably easier to tap into.
3. Companies worry about scalability and limitations using cloud phone services.
The new cloud-based phone system offers more scalability than company’s on-site phone systems. With cloud-based phone systems, there’s no need to install a PBX on-site which means that the initial deployment is rapid and simple. Adding additional lines as your organization grows happens in a mater of minutes because cloud-based providers remotely add additional lines. Whereas, your on-site service requires a technician to physically install new lines into your office. Furthermore, the cloud-base service offers flexible software and device options for your business to easily integrate new stall into your communication ecosystems.
4. Switching to Cloud-based phone services are expensive.
A cloud-based cloud service is cost-effective for your company because there is no on-site hardware PBX to install. This saves your company thousand of dollars each month on leasing and maintenance cost of a PBX. Many cloud-based service providers offer hardware preprogrammed and ready to install in your enterprise. Companies who choose to use their old analog system only need to purchase an analog-to-digital adaptor which is cost-effective compared to purchasing new equipment. Also, the use of desktops and the smartphone’s applications can reduce the cost completely and there’s no need for new hardware.
5. Cloud-based phone technology will be obsolete in a few years.
VOIP technologies are well-established components of the telephone network and have been for several years the choice of personal use for long distance and international calling. The FCC has recently voted to test the deployment of IP networks to replace the existing copper-wire based infrastructure. Soon communication will reach the point where the adoption of IP technology will no longer be an option.
7 Common Uses of Cloud Computing in Small Business
Cloud computing is gaining ground – and not just in big companies. Even small businesses are recognizing the many advantages of this approach, but how exactly is the cloud used for this purpose? Following are just some of the typical small-business needs answered through cloud computing.
The cloud can be used to ensure that all vital information relating to the business is kept secure. Even as you have the same data in your office computers, the management doesn’t have to worry in the event of a crash. All lost data can simply be copied back to your personal computers with very little time lost.
Cloud-based accounts can be used to share single files within a whole army of people without having to attach and detach documents. A good example of this would be Dropbox which lets you drag and drop files in a folder that automatically shows up in the folder of your officemates as long as there’s internet connection available. Each one of you can edit and update the file without worrying about confusing double-files.
Human Resources Management
Management of human resources used to be a time consuming system that doesn’t really contribute to the company’s bottom line. However, it is an important aspect of small businesses to ensure that everything is running smoothly. Prior to cloud-HRM, small concerns spend hours of valuable manpower consolidating their human resource information. Nowadays however, there are cloud computing services that simply require you to log in to access information.
Consumer Relations Management
The same way as Human Resources Management, CRM used to be an expensive task that few businesses can afford. With the advent of the cloud, the system of keeping track and contacting customers has become more streamlined, easier, and therefore cheaper. The need to have your own server is no longer present, rather all you have to do is sign up and avail of the services.
Despite the “hacking” scare nowadays, the fact is that cloud computing is more secure than say – the office desktop or the company hard drive. Most cloud services employ their own ï¿½ï¿½security measures’ to ensure that any information you enter in their system is kept confidential. This also serves as a good internal control measure with only the accountable employees holding the account and password of specific clouds. This way, there’s a clear partition of responsibilities.
Collaboration while Mobile
With most company information and concerns found in the cloud, the need to show up in the office diminishes. Employees stuck at home or are on a business trip are still given the opportunity to confer and update business-related information through the cloud system, therefore preventing any unproductive hours.
Clouds are usually made available on a per-size and per-month basis. This makes it perfect for small businesses that do not have the budget to purchase their own extensive servers. Instead, they only pay for what they need and simply increase the requirements as the business grows. This ensures that company expenses wouldn’t be extensive, keeping the concern profitable.
Of course, those are just few of the cloud computing roles in small businesses. As the technology is improved, small to medium business owners will find that the cloud option not only offers them better services but also more generous storage space for daily use.
Cloud Computing: the Best Alternative for Reinventing Your Business
Even though it’s been a decade since it was invented, the The Cloud Data Storage System developed in 2004 by Amazon is not giving the expected results. Meanwhile, Google and Microsoft have relied on the same type of service offered to their customers. But what makes them invest less money in storage? Increasingly more people are talking about Cloud Computing. Many companies and big names in the industry have seized the opportunity and started real promotional campaigns.
Cloud Computing Definition
It is quite difficult to give an exact definition to this technology because it has a tremendous complexity. However, an appropriate definition would sound like this: a set of IT services – applications, storage options, access information – hosted by multiple servers located in unknown areas. In other words, if we want to save a file using this method, it will be stored in a UK server. If you want to download an application or even use it in real time, it can be downloaded from a server located in South Korea or can be run directly from a server located in New Delhi, India. As a Cloud Computing User, all you need is a strong and stable constant internet connection.
Now and Then
You probably still remember the entire floors designated for servers of big companies and also the army of employees that served them. Logistics that had to be developed for the smooth running of all operations were impressive: air conditioning performance, control rooms and many offices were the only visible part of the iceberg. In our homes, the various personal files are occupying a signifiant section of hard disk capacity. With all these, inherent heaviness in running your operating system and applications is inevitable. After Cloud has become known and gained more trust from users, life became easier, with more breathable air. IT departments are now less numerous, the occupied spaces designated for servers have now a more efficient use. Let’s admit it! Lowering IT costs generally leads to serious budget savings and it can also mean rethinking of human and material resources for many companies.
A GfK study for Intel among local Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) shows that most of them have heard about Cloud Computing, and 40% will invest in it next year. The allocation will be between 10-70% of the total IT budget. 49% of SMEs believe that Cloud Solutions are really efficient.
What are the real advantages of the Cloud?
The main advantages of Cloud Computing identified by current users are:
Increasing Computer Speed and Storage Capacity – because the Cloud Services are flexible, scalable and able to process very large volumes of data whenever it’s needed and even allocate additional storage space.
Fixed Costs – not necessarily one of the advantages, but with Cloud Services you only pay for what you use. Synchronize and access data from anywhere, on multiple devices. The data can be accessed from anywhere and within the company or home server through VPN solutions (Virtual Private Network), NAS (Network Area Storage) with internet connection.
Data security – data stored in the Cloud is more secure than the company’s server, so you can easily recover it in case of accident.
Information Privacy – the data submitted via major service providers like: Microsoft, Google and Apple are more difficult to intercept than the company’s server or a local hosting provider.
Cloud Solutions will save costs for servers, software licenses, hosting, collocation, maintenance or technical ultraspecialized personnel. It costs less because it does not use many resources to work and seems to be more scalable and more reliable than most applications. In addition, “cloud” applications receive automatic upgrades, so the application will be safe, performant, and will have new features without any efforts on your part. The secret is the technology that leads to the existence of applications that can be accessed “in the clouds”. It’s the applications that run entirely over the Internet and have a high degree of interactivity with the user (Rich Internet Applications).
Thanks to Cloud Computing, even small and medium companies that could not afford an investment in IT infrastructure or an expensive software, can now be part of the most important technologies in the world, as well as multinational companies, but now at minimum costs.