What is The Cloud? What is Cloud Computing? Will the Cloud help my small business? In this post, I’ll summarize the Cloud and mention some examples.
The Cloud is not that white fluffy thing one sees in the sky. It doesn’t bring bad weather or block out the sun for a scheduled picnic or outdoor party. The Cloud isn’t even a physical entity one can touch.
The Cloud is a network of computer servers, and each server or servers perform a unique task. These tasks or functions can include: Backup, applications or service delivery, or data storage whether temporary or permanent. A commonly used service is Apple’s iCloud. Ever wonder why your iTunes were purchased on your Mac but are available on your iPad or iPhone? Thank the Cloud and Apple, of course. The music or any shared data is backed up to the Cloud and may be retrieved by other devices that are connected to the Cloud.
The same principal is used for software products that we buy or download. Instead of getting a DVD or CD with software loaded, we are usually directed to click on a link and the software or driver starts to load by itself. The software, driver or update is stored in a Cloud somewhere and easy to retrieve using the Internet and the Cloud.
Many vendors use Cloud Computing in one way or another. Amazon and Amazon web services hosts cloud businesses; Amazon and Kindle store huge volumes of eBooks and videos in the Cloud. Adobe, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and many other vendors use the cloud to store and deliver programs directly to the desktop, tablet or smart phone.
Why do companies use the Cloud?
Generally the reasons are financial. Instead of printing physical media, the Cloud can hold the latest software and is easily updated by IT personnel in India for users all over the world. It takes minutes to update and no shipping or physical costs for the DVD. Consider how many iPads Apple sells in a calendar year. According to statistica, Apple has sold over 300 million iPads since introduction in 2010.
If a DVD with software were sent for each iPad at $1.50, the support cost is 450 million dollars. And that’s only for one computing device by one vendor. If all computer devices and vendors were tallied, the cost would easily exceed 10 billion dollars. That figure does not include the cost of disposal or recycling the media one now has.
The Cloud provides more benefit than cost savings for companies. I do backups using the Cloud and avoid the possibility of backup device failure, forgetting to set a backup or simple laziness on Sunday. I load my data to iCloud and pay a small yearly charge to store my pictures, data, music or other important documents. Backups can be set to run in “real time” or on a schedule, as desired.
A small or home business can benefit, too.
Your business should be backing up its data on a regular basis, Why not simplify the process and use the Cloud? Have you ever gone to a client and wished you had a catalogue of goods to show? Store pictures and descriptions in the Cloud and use them when needed. No flash drives to carry and no DVDs to damage or lose. Make a nice PowerPoint presentation, load it to the cloud, and be prepared whenever. Small business can also save salary costs and overhead by strategically using the Cloud. The only limit is your imagination.
Companies exist solely to develop and manage Clouds of all shapes, sizes and purposes. For the entrepreneur, opportunities abound to jump on the cloud bandwagon. If you are technical in interest and nature, consider Cloud computing as a business option. Digital security is another biz venture that is in-demand.
Is the Cloud secure?
The Cloud is great for storing non-sensitive information. No one is interested in last summer’s vacation to Disney Land except you and your family. Many people are understandably concerned about loading private information to the Cloud. While the Cloud has existed for a number of years, the technology is evolving constantly. There are however, a number of possible data glitches when using Cloud Computing:
- Data breaches – where a cloud storage vendor does a poor job of securely storing data
- Hacked interfaces – poorly written or hacked client server programs are compromised
- Malicious insiders – either within a company or employed by a cloud storage vendor
- DoS (denial of service) attacks – similar to being stuck in rush-hour traffic with an accident ahead. Most vendors, and certainly the large ones, are prepared for DoS attacks.
The above are a few of the possible security risks one may encounter when using the Cloud. A more complete list is found here:
How big is the Cloud?
No one knows for sure about the size of the Cloud. There are public clouds and private clouds and personal clouds. Mashable cites an infographic suggesting the Clouds may contain 1 Exabyte. That is roughly equal to the storage of over 4 million MacBook pros. Lots of space. The Cloud is potentially scalable to unlimited size, provided the infrastructure can support the load and speed.
graphic reference: http://www.smartdatacollective.com/asher-ross/150686/10-ways-know-how-cloud-computing-benefits-your-company