What is Cloud Computing?

Posted By: Helen Tuesday 19th February 2019Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Is cloud computing or ‘the cloud’ something you’ve heard of? Are you too embarrassed to ask just exactly what this is? You’re not alone and in today’s blog we are going to investigate the cloud and all that’s attached to its somewhat mystical elements! By looking at the features Cloud computing has to offer, you will leave this post with a heightened knowledge and understanding of how this service will benefit your business.

So what exactly is the cloud?

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A notable buzzword now used in many offices across the world, ‘the cloud’ refers to the place where data is stored. Cloud services include a combination of assets:

  • Servers
  • Storage
  • Databases
  • Networking
  • Software
  • Analytics
  • Intelligence over the Internet

Data has to be stored somewhere. It requires a home and its place of residence needs to remain secure. There are many options as to where data can live and collectively this is referred to as ‘the cloud’. The chances are you have come into contact with it already whether in the workplace or home. You may already be actively using the cloud  whilst unaware of its technical reference.

Here’s an example;

netflix on laptop

Have you ever watched a film, documentary or box set on Netflix? Are you familiar with the creation of documents, spreadsheets or presentations on Google Drive as opposed to Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint? Have you used Dropbox to share images or files with others? Each of these examples are cloud services that can be accessed through a web browser or dedicated application. Are you with us so far? There are numerous business applications connected with Cloud computing but we will look at some of those options a little later and investigate how best to determine if these are suited to your company. 

How can Cloud services benefit me?

Let’s suppose you create a spreadsheet in Google Drive. You don’t need to save this to your desktop so therefore it doesn’t take up any space in your hard drive. If you have responsibility for the creation and use of numerous documents, it doesn’t take long to run out of computer space. At this point you will need to start looking at external hard drives that offer the right level of security and protection. Remember, you need to remain GDPR compliant.

As long as there’s internet connection, the cloud allows access to information on any device. Even better, there’s no need to save work as this happens automatically. Simply shut down your home PC and upon reaching work, start where you left off, everything will have remained. You can even give others access to documents allowing them to work within it at the same time as you.

Images are often something people have plenty of. Saving these to a laptop or smartphone is likely to max out internal storage pretty quickly. Amazon Cloud Drive is a great service offering extensive space where precious memories can be stored. Similarly, there are solutions and applications perfect for businesses to use when they are image heavy companies.

So far so good?

So far we have investigated the definition of the Cloud and what it means in a personal and professional setting. It’s easy to see the benefits for use outside of the workplace, but what about between the hours of 9am and 5pm?

Allow us to keep your eyes glued to this blog!

Cloud services for business don’t just work between 9am and 5pm! They are available for use 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year (providing there is internet connection)! The fact you have constant access is a huge plus and means you don’t have to rely on a single machine to carry out necessary tasks. Cloud computing greatly increases productivity.

Now that we are familiar with ‘the cloud’ and the services attached, let’s delve a little more into the specifics of cloud computing.

We know, you’re probably thinking:

“Hang on a second”! I thought we had covered cloud computing with cloud services? Well, we have, in a way. Cloud computing is still a service but one that’s outsourced to professionals to manage on behalf of your business. Think of it as outsourcing computer programs. Remember, the services you use are hosted externally and live in the cloud. Storage or power is nothing that needs to concern you.

Are you aware of the traditional methods?

Pre cloud computing, the art of business applications always proved complex, costly and time consuming. Depending on requirements, a company could potentially need large amounts and differing varieties of software and hardware. A daunting task in itself, it requires an entire team of experts to install, configure, test and run infrastructure. The method is time consuming and puts day to day duties on hold whilst new systems and processes are put into place. Could your business afford this down time?

And it doesn’t end there:

Applications have to be kept fully secure to eliminate external threats. It is the responsibility of your company to ensure security is at its best. It is also necessary to keep hardware and software fully up to date in order to  avoid crashing and/or losing important data. Whilst companies do continue to employ this method by using internal infrastructure, many are looking to the future with cloud computing.

Now here’s where it gets really exciting:

Using cloud computing means that no investment is required into IT infrastructure. An experienced IT support company becomes fully responsible for the management of your cloud based needs. Because this method means you are sharing infrastructure, the company you draught in will only charge for what is needed. Upgrades and updates continue automatically meaning there is literally nothing for you to think or worry about. Should the circumstances of your company change, you can investigate the option of scaling up or down to suit. The process is simple and straightforward where you only pay for what’s used.

How long before cloud computing is up, running and ready to use?

Great question! Unlike the traditional methods involving infrastructure, cloud solutions are available on demand. Computing has the ability to be provisioned in minutes. A full team of specialist technicians is not required. A single, knowledgeable IT consultant has the means to complete the process successfully. Resources will often be ready for use after just a few clicks of the mouse. This offers your company maximum flexibility whilst relieving pressure instantly.

But wait, there’s more:

There are in fact three types of cloud computing and this is where things can get a bit technical. Let’s break it down, and please do not worry. This is something we can help you with when you make contact with LaneSystems.

Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS)

Cloud computing in this way means a third party will host elements of infrastructure. This can include software, hardware, servers and storage. Backup, maintenance and security are provided from the outsourced agent.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Take an internet browser as an example. By using the cloud, software becomes a usable tool.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

This options allows for the avoidance of infrastructure, code, storage and more. Users have the relaxed ability to develop, run and manage applications without having to delve into technical areas.

How do I know if cloud computing is right for me?

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The best way to determine this is to seek a professional opinion. A reputable IT support company will assess the way you are currently working before making recommendations. It is important to understand all aspects of cloud computing and if it is right for your business. A knowledgeable technician should carry out a full strategic analysis of existing infrastructure before providing an expert opinion.

Let’s sum up the benefits:

Flexible: As a growing company Cloud based services are ideal. As bandwidth demands fluctuate it’s straightforward to increase. Similarly reduction is just as easy to achieve requiring not very much effort at all.

Disaster Recovery: It’s important for every company to have a disaster recovery policy in place. The Cloud allows a cost effective solution through backup and data recovery for companies of all sizes.

Software Updates: When it comes to updates we are all guilty of clicking the box saying ‘remind me later’. With the Cloud you are not responsible for any updates. All aspects of software and security updates are completed on your behalf by suppliers.

Free From Capital Expenditure: The Cloud provides subscription based options that aren’t over priced. A business will also save money on the high cost of hardware.

Increased Collaboration: The Cloud allows teams to edit, and share documents at any time of the day from absolutely anywhere. This is a great benefit in terms of collaboration by encouraging employees to work together more.

Work From Anywhere: You’re not restricted with the Cloud and can usually use any device you wish. The ability to do this means employers can offer flexibility of working. Staff members don’t always have to be sitting in the office.

Security: Losing a laptop is stressful and whilst having to replace the item is an annoyance, it’s the loss of data that could prove devastating to a company. The Cloud allows users to login and even wipe anything sensitive, remotely.

What are you waiting for?

You need a free audit from one of our technicians and you need to book in for this now. Come on, get in touch. You’ll wish you’d done it sooner.