Business Cloud Computing PT 1: A Quick IntroductionSeptember 6th, 2011 by Thomas Clifford
Believe it or not, cloud computing for businesses is not a new invention.
The cloud is simply the Internet. Thus, the cloud has been here since the Internet started becoming popular in the early 1990s.
The cloud allows you to use applications and store data without having physical hardware and software in your office; someone else handles those for you elsewhere.
What’s different now?
Today, people are using the Internet to perform tasks that they used to perform on equipment in their offices.
For example, you used to have an email server in your office. Now you could have a Microsoft Exchange email server hosted in the cloud, which is a service. You pay a small fee per month per mailbox versus buying the hardware and putting it in your office.
Remember CompuServe, AOL and backing up data?
When the Internet became popular in the early 1990s, CompuServe and AOL offered either hosted email or cloud-based email. You also had to back up all files from your server onto tapes every day and take the tapes off-site. Now there are services that allow you to back up all of your data to a server in the cloud. It’s a way to get your data off-site instantly.
Three prime targets for business cloud computing
1) Startups are a great match for the cloud because they’re trying to conserve cash. Let’s say a business invests $20,000 in equipment and then fails in six months. Using the cloud, a business could invest $1,000 a month and be out $6,000 in six months versus $20,000.
2) The cloud works well for remote workers who are either on the road or working from their homes. They can access the same applications that their coworkers use.
3) Rapidly growing businesses don’t know what kind of growth they’re going to be experiencing. Instead of trying to buy the right-sized server today and then have to continually add to it year after year, they might buy something in the cloud that is scalable.
What are the main benefits of cloud computing for businesses?
1) Ease of sharing data and applications
If, for example, your main application that runs your business was located on a server in your office, people in the field would have to use the application over your business-grade bandwidth, but this is limited to whatever the building can provide.
With the cloud, it’s easy to share information from a big server and a big data center with big Internet pipes.
2) Regular, automatic backups
Tape backup is still widely used but magnetic media deteriorates over time. The cloud lets you say goodbye to magnetic tapes. Some cloud services can have your data immediately available in a cloud server that people can remotely access, even if the data was originally in your office.
If you have a managed service like ForeSite monitoring your situation, they can catch potential issues early.
3) Reduced support and maintenance costs
One of the biggest benefits of cloud computing is reduced support and maintenance costs on the physical hardware and software. While reduced, the reality is those support and maintenance costs are built into the subscription fees.
What are the main drawbacks of cloud computing for businesses?
1) You rely on an Internet connection 100% of the time
If you have people in your office and your Internet connection goes down, they can’t work. If your data is in the cloud and your Internet connection goes down in your office, you can’t get to your applications.
2) Everything you do in the cloud is subscription-based
Businesses using cloud computing face monthly or ongoing fees. Instead of buying it in one year, they’re always paying for it.
How do you know if cloud computing is right for your business?
The first thing to understand is that it’s not all or nothing. You don’t have to have everything in the cloud.
It comes down to doing a cost-benefit analysis on each application:
- What do you expect your growth or shrinkage of that application to be?
- What do you expect the longevity of using that particular application or service to be?
- Is it something that’s reaching its end of life?
- Is something else coming out next week that might be a better solution?
Over to you
What questions do you have about cloud computing for business?
Do you have any tips to share for those new to cloud computing?
How has the cloud helped your business?
Why are businesses attracted to cloud computing?
Find out in our next article, “Business Cloud Computing PT 2: 3 Problems the Cloud Solves.”
Your next step
Download our free “cheat sheet”
Are you wondering which of your apps are right for the cloud?
ForeSite created a one-page “cheat sheet” to help you determine which apps of yours might be a good fit for the cloud.
Download our free “cheat sheet,” “5 Questions to Determine if Your App Is Right for the Cloud.”
Just fill out this simple form to get your free report.