When it comes to company computer needs, many business owners tend to think of physical equipment first. While adding additional machines to your office hardware can increase capabilities and storage capacity, you don’t necessarily need more equipment to amp up your company’s virtual resources.
Cloud computing offers a means of increasing your company’s software options and storage space without the need for additional in-house systems to process and store data. Unlike traditional software and data storage, the cloud needs no physical equipment in your office on which to operate. Instead, data and programs are hosted on a server outside of your office and can be accessed from any location.
If this strikes you as a novel concept, you might be surprised to find that, in some way, you’re likely already using cloud technology. Web-based email falls under the umbrella of cloud computing, so if you have a Gmail or Hotmail account, some of your information is already floating out in the cloud.
Cloud computing goes far beyond email systems, though. Other aspects of cloud computing that serve business needs include access to software, such as analytics programs, online file storage and online system backups. By utilizing such Web-based resources as your business needs grow, you eliminate the need for additional physical equipment, which provides a number of advantages over non-cloud technology.
As a business owner, many aspects of operating your business sit high on your priority list—quality products, good employees, a high level of customer satisfaction and your company’s overall reputation. These elements are vital to your business’ success. When it comes to keeping your business in operation, nothing is as imperative as your bottom line. Your company needs cash flow to operate, and the cloud can help increase or maintain that cash flow.
Since the cloud hosts data and software remotely, it eliminates the need to buy new software, upgraded memory or additional equipment, which saves on upfront tech costs. As any business owner knows, saving money early on can be a real game-changer.
Since you pay for cloud services on an as-needed basis, you also won’t be throwing money away on something you don’t need. You can increase or decrease your access to software and storage space as your needs dictate, so you pay only for what you actually use. This is an ideal model for companies that have only one time of year when data needs are high, like tax preparation companies or holiday retailers.
Cloud services also come with their own technical support, eliminating the need for an on-site IT department. Cloud services, like the vCloud Datacenter, provide management tools through which you access and utilize the applications and information of the cloud, and support staff to help you navigate the system, if needed.
When you have your own equipment and servers, you know exactly where your information is stored and who has access to it. You know what type of data protection, such as firewalls, you have in place to prevent outside attacks. In short, you know your system’s security. Storing information on a remote server may seem counterintuitive to the security of your data.
The success of cloud companies depends heavily on the security they can provide. Since it’s so imperative to their success, companies that offer cloud servers generally have a level of security that you’re unlikely to match with your own company firewall. Cloud technology stays on top of new attack methods and keeps security measures up-to-date to prevent attacks. Therefore, most cloud companies are more secure than your company’s internal system.
If you still have concerns about the exposure of your information – despite the extensive security measures that cloud companies incorporate – you may want to consider an internal cloud. You don’t necessarily have to go to a remote server to reap the benefits of cloud computing. Large companies may instead choose to create internal cloud systems that make interaction and sharing between departments and offices more efficient and cost effective.
Businesses or entities with multiple locations, departments or agencies benefit from cloud computing in ways that smaller businesses don’t. Government and law enforcement entities, for instance, have been moving to internal cloud systems. An internal cloud works in much the same way as Web-based cloud computing, but applications and data are stored on an internal server shared between offices or agencies, as opposed to being stored on a host’s server.
Internal cloud computing allows different departments within a company to access shared information and utilize shared programs, without each department needing to build its own system or install its own software. This increases productivity and efficiency, since data added by one department can be accessed by another, eliminating duplicate work. If a person in one department enters a client’s name and contact information, for instance, and a person in another department needs that information, the second individual won’t need to seek out the information or retype it. Instead, they can simply look it up in the data system and pluck it from the cloud.
An aspect of cloud computing that benefits a business of any size or variety is portability. Unlike software and data tied to a single machine or an internal server, applications and data stored in a Web-based cloud can be accessed from literally anywhere you can find an Internet connection. The portability of cloud computing makes collaboration between people, departments or companies simple.
Data can also be accessed using any type of Internet-ready device. If you need to check on an aspect of your business while out of town, you can do so through your laptop, smartphone or a secure workstation at any area library. When you’re off on business, you’ll never need to worry about leaving an important file behind at the office because your data travels with you. You can simply log in and pull that information out of your company’s storage at any time.
Since cloud computing requires less physical equipment and utilizes servers that are already in existence, the cloud reduces emissions and technological waste. With cloud servers that operate remotely from your place of business, you’ll also benefit from reduced energy costs since you won’t need to power the servers yourself. The potential energy savings and emission reduction possible with the cloud makes cloud computing a veritable green technology.
With its host of benefits and limited drawbacks, the cloud may be the way of the future for both private industries and governments alike.