Taking advantage of all that technology has to offer the modern world, cloud computing is revolutionising the way the world does business. It’s efficient, it’s flexible, and it’s cost effective. Let’s unpack this technology to understand what it is and how it can help your business thrive.
What is cloud computing and why use it?
Cloud computing is essentially an on-demand IT service that you can access over a web browser from any device, whether it’s smartphone, tablet, PC or Mac Book, from anywhere around the world. As long as you have a computer and an internet connection, you’re ready to go. Even if the computer and connection are sub-par, it doesn’t matter. Once you are connected to the cloud service you are accessing the speeds of the service and these services can be very fast.
Third-party cloud providers, like Microsoft for example, have huge servers spread all over the world. This helps them to manage traffic and reduces the risk of downtime as opposed to having on-prem servers. If one server has a problem, they can just switch their clients to another as they always have a copy of your cloud service replicated as part of their disaster and recovery plan.
A cloud service is hosted by a third-party provider (unless a business opts for a private cloud) who is responsible for its security and maintenance, so the business using that service is absolved of this responsibility and cost. Instead, businesses rent space from cloud service providers with a pay-for-what-you-use approach to billing, eliminating the need for on-prem servers.
What services a business chooses to access on cloud technology depends on what their needs are, so it’s very specific to each business. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. It must be individually tailored and is dependent on several factors. But the services accessed can be anything from Microsoft 365 to your entire business network.
Cloud technology is a scalable technology where you can add and remove resources with a few clicks, so you only pay for the IT resources you need, when you need them. The possibilities are exciting and support seamless business growth.
What can cloud computing services provide access to?
The sky is the limit for the IT services that can be accessed through cloud technology. It can be software from a third-party provider or your own in-house software. It can be a database, or you can put your entire network in the cloud. It can even be used to access powerful analytics tools and artificial intelligence.
Cloud applications eliminate the need to purchase and install on-premises, not to mention the resources in doing so. The cloud can be a centralised place to store all company files, so they can be accessed and shared collaboratively in real time. It can be used as part of your disaster and recovery protocol as a backup.
Cloud services can be grouped into three categories and businesses can opt to use just one or all of them:
- Software as a service (SaaS) – hosted applications that run on the cloud, which a 2019 survey found accounts for half of all public cloud spending. Customer relationship management (CRM) applications and enterprise resource management (ERM) applications make up more than 60% of all cloud applications spending in 2021.
- Platform as a service (PaaS) – a variety of different platforms such as full lifecycle development and deployment environments and operating systems to allow businesses to deliver IT solutions – Microsoft Azure for instance.
- Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) – replaces data storage, networks and physical hardware, eliminating the need to purchase and maintain physical servers on the premises.
The different types of clouds and how secure they are
The type of cloud solution a business will opt for depends on their needs and how they want their data stored in the cloud and how secure they need it to be.
No business is safe from malicious actors and the threat of cyber attacks.
Cloud providers like Microsoft will easily spend a billion dollars a year investing in state-of-the-art security to fend off attacks and protect their servers and their clients. However, nothing is foolproof, and this is perhaps one of the drawbacks of cloud computing – businesses may feel uneasy about not knowing where their data is physically located.
With the aid of cloud expert professionals that can help you efficiently deploy to the cloud, secure cloud configuration and choosing a reputable cloud provider can provide peace-of-mind to businesses.
The types of clouds are:
- Public cloud – a cloud service run by a third-party provider who is responsible for its maintenance and security eliminating the need for on-prem physical servers. In this case a business will rent the space on the third-party server and pay for only the daily space/resources they consume.
- Private cloud – in this case the business owns the physical server and has complete control over it, but they are also then responsible for its security and maintenance. Often, businesses will outsource the management of their private cloud to a managed service provider (MSP) which may involve the server being physically located with the MSP too.
- Hybrid cloud – employs the best of both worlds by using both private cloud and public cloud options. This is a favourable option for businesses that want to keep sensitive information on a private cloud but also want the benefits that a public cloud provides, such as using third-party cloud applications.
The overall benefits
Cloud technology has seen a huge uptake since the inception of the pandemic which has put tremendous pressures on businesses to adapt. Remote workforces are now the norm. Cloud technology helps to support business continuity in this new world while at the same time giving them access to the power to grow, innovate, and evolve.
- Strong collaboration – cloud infrastructure provides strong collaborative power with consistency between users. Data is automatically synced, so if a file is being used collaboratively, there is less chance for error no matter where users are located. With traditional servers and internal networks, when users worked remotely, they would have to access files through slow virtual private networks which made collaboration tricky and risky. With cloud platform technology, logging into the company network can be as simple as opening a web browser.
- A more reliable infrastructure – natural disasters or data security breaches can make on-prem servers vulnerable to downtime. Cloud hosting allows for the quick switching of physical servers with the ability to replicate data as part of disaster recovery planning. Cloud technology also has inbuilt security and supports multi-factor authentication.
- Quick access to a range of applications and technology resources – traditionally applications had to be installed on the company network or on individual machines. With cloud computing, specialised applications can be accessed from anywhere, effortlessly and quickly, giving businesses a competitive advantage.Cloud computing puts platforms and applications at the fingertips of businesses.
- Easy scalability – if a business is busy during Christmas but the rest of the year, they are relatively quiet, why do they need to acquire and maintain resources just to cope with their busy times? With cloud computing, they don’t need to. Scaling resources up and down is done with a few clicks, saving businesses time and money.
- Cost savings – cloud computing can be a more cost-effective solution. It reduces the cost of purchasing hardware and software, servers, but also desktops, as employees can use their own personal machines. It also eliminates the labour involved in maintaining these machines, like operating system updates or installing software. This is all handled by the cloud provider. Pay-as-you-go pricing means businesses pay only for the resources they use. It also eliminates the need for hefty startup costs for new businesses or those wanting to upscale their business. Cloud computing supports innovation but cuts deployment costs.
An assessment by a cloud specialist on your business needs, including a security and cost-benefit analysis, can provide clarity as to whether cloud computing is right for your business. Talk to the experts at Linktech Australia to find out how they can help your business unleash the power of cloud computing.