While marketing analysts see cloud computing as the wave of the future, the public still has doubts about issues like performance and network cloud security.
This skepticism is due to the simple fact that most businesses have become accustomed to on-premise infrastructure and don’t know what to make of the cloud. Metaphorically, you could say they have a fear of heights. They wonder if cloud computing is a passing phase or a lasting contribution to technology.
Doubts about performance arise because many computer users don’t know how cloud computing works compared to working from a local hard-drive or using a local area network.
Meanwhile, fears about security arise because of media reports about huge break-in’s that result in losses totaling millions. They hear media stories about hackers like Albert Gonzales who masterminded one of the biggest credit card thefts in history. This places them in a dilemma. On one hand, you need technology to run an international business, but on the other hand valuable data appears at risk.
Let’s tackle these two concerns: what is cloud computing and how safe is it?
- What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing uses remotely located network servers to store data instead of local computer hard-drives or LAN servers. Users can access their data through the Internet.
Cloud computing allows users to access their private documents folders and software from a server on the Internet instead of from their hard-drive or a local server. This immediately solves two problems: the high cost of owning your own private tech infrastructure and the problem of limited storage.
A business with a growing volume of data can now handle its growing needs without a second thought. The cloud makes it easy to manage, store, and process information at a low cost and at a higher level of speed and efficiency.
But that’s not all; a business that uses the cloud is no longer limited to the type of boxed software it can afford, but can rent the most sophisticated software in their industry through a new model called SaaS, or Software as a Service. Users access the software on their cloud account by renting it. In certain industries, this can make the difference between using boxed software valued at a few hundred dollars to accessing cutting-edge software valued at tens of thousands of dollars. The software they use does not have to be installed or maintained by their own technical team. The SaaS provider takes care of installation, upgrades, and troubleshooting at no extra cost.
Some Common Examples of Cloud Computing
Two popular forms of cloud computing most people are familiar with are Dropbox and Google Docs. Using Dropbox, users can store their information in folders just the way they would in the Documents section of their Windows OS. Using Google Docs, they can use apps similar to those found in Microsoft’s Office Suite. What’s more, they can access this remote information as conveniently as if it were located on their computer’s hard-drive. However, unlike a local hard-drive, you don’t need to worry about running out of space.
Access the Cloud from Any Device
With computer hard-drives now running into terabytes, the idea of not having enough storage space is unlikely. However, mobile devices—smartphones and tablets—still have limited storage capacity. These can slow usage to a crawl when working with resource hogging apps like large audio or video files. However, since mobile devices can access the cloud as easily as desktops and laptops, the cloud handles all storage needs. Videos, audios, and photographs stored in the cloud can be enjoyed with mobile devices without a problem.
Growth and Flexibility
Using on-premise infrastructure, a company that experiences a large increase in business has to upgrade their computer systems to meet the increasing demands. With cloud computing, it’s easy to increase an account holder’s resources and storage capacity.
Cloud computing also works well the other way. Since accounts are charged based on measured usage, cloud computing can handle a decline in business and reduce the resources and storage capacity a business may need to use.
Cloud computing makes it easy to collaborate. If your business needs to share information with outsourcers and receive their finished work, all this can be done on the cloud. Users from all over the world can access a cloud at any time of the day or night.
- How Safe is the Cloud?
When hackers break into a computer system, they often find ways to bypass the existing security systems. In many cases, this is easiest by either tricking employees to download malware or by bribing employees to let them into a corporate network.
When it comes to safety, clouds are probably safer than on-premise computer systems. Since cloud providers want more clients, they do their best to make sure that they use the highest quality of security possible. They also hire some of the top security specialists to ensure optimal security measures.
Should You Use the Cloud?
When you really think about it, there is no reason not to use the cloud. The cloud is popular among tech-savvy users because it resolves resource and storage capacity problems. It is less expensive, faster, and more efficient than most local area networks. What’s more, storage capacity is not a problem. Finally, as far as security, the cloud is probably safer than most computer systems.
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