What is The Cloud?
When talking about “the cloud”, it’s likely that the average person really has no idea what it is, or where it resides. For some, when it comes to storing information in the cloud, there is an anxiety that pervades the mind. Perhaps one may question if this digital information is even in a physical location. Where is this “cloud”!? Rest assured, your documents and data do not merely reside in the ether. In reality, the cloud is a distributed network of physical servers that store massive amounts of data, and is designed to be incredibly reliable. It’s likely you have driven past, or flown over any number of cloud storage facilities and never even realized they were there. Let’s demystify the cloud.
Cloud computing is used to drive social applications like Facebook and Twitter, which provide access to millions of people worldwide. It also powers business-to-business applications, like Google Apps and Dropbox. The largest public cloud provider is Amazon Web Services, which hosts companies like Netflix, Expedia, Pinterest, and even Trackops. Other notable providers include Rackspace, Windows Azure and Google. Cloud Computing and Storage is not going anywhere, and it is growing at an incredible rate. According to a recent study, 80% of global enterprises will be using cloud computing by 2016.
Why should one use the cloud?
Knowing what the cloud is helps us understand why and how we should use it.
- Reliability: Cloud computing uses multiple locations to run
applications. An outage in one location doesn’t hinder the service's availability. The
top cloud services experience short
- Redundancy: Much like cloud applications, files are stored in
multiple, physical locations. This provides protection against data
loss due to a disaster or loss of service due to server malfunction.
- Cost Reduction: Using the cloud means no longer housing hardware
onsite, freeing physical space and saving money.
- Accessibility: Your data can be accessed wherever and whenever it is needed.
- Scalability: the cloud allows businesses to add more resources
during high traffic periods and reduce resources during off-peak
hours. This allows companies to accommodate for very high traffic, only if it’s needed for a short period of time.
- Collaboration: You want efficiency from your team? Collaboration is a key factor in increasing efficiency, thereby
maximizing your ROI. Cloud based applications are conducive to
Is the cloud safe?
Security is a common reason why people opt not to store information in the cloud. However, recent studies are causing people to think twice. The simple lack of company protocols and misuse of workplace internet account for a large portion of security issues. Looking deeper into the workplace, the next wave of breaches will likely take advantage of onsite “smart devices” or the Internet of Things (IoT). These sensor-based devices need additional regulation and consideration in your internet security policies. In light of human error and the rise of risk new device integration, there is still the question: Is my data safe in the cloud?
“This is a legitimate concern, but online backup services are as safe
as anything else in this dangerous cyberworld--provided you can take the proper precautions. Besides, your data isn't 100-percent safe on your hard drive or your local backup, either.” - PCWorld
The trepidation of cloud usage is understandable; the cloud is an adolescent technology that that is receiving an incredible amount of attention in regards to security. However, the burden of security shouldn’t be placed solely on the shoulders of cloud service providers. Cloud adopters are also responsible managing their side of the relationship. If you are a small business, these 10 useful tips from the Federal Communications Commission can help you safely craft a plan to adopt cloud computing technology.
The cloud is the new normal
Recent statistics show that cloud adoption is growing at an astounding rate. Chris Howard, research vice president at Gartner, suggests that cloud computing will make up the majority of IT spending in 2016. The decision to use the cloud based services and applications requires a proper risk assessment, but as Business Insider reports, nearly 90% of internet users are already using cloud, whether they know it or not. Understanding the pros and cons of cloud adoption can set a clear path to success, but foregoing the use of the cloud altogether will likely leave you grounded.