The Cloud Movement
Like it or not, cloud computing permeates many aspects of our lives, and it’s going to be a big part of our future in both business and personal spheres. The current and future possibilities of global access to files and data, remote working opportunities, improved storage structures, and greater solution distribution have the pundits encouraging the cloud move for one and all; on the other hand, complete reliance on electronic networks and external service providers comes with its own set of dangers, along with a sometimes insufficient understanding of the products and tools implemented.
The Increasing Demand for Cloud Computing
The last ten years have seen a marked increase in demand for and implementation of cloud computing. Thanks in part to smartphones, real-time streaming, connected devices, and always-on social media needs, this flexible, off-site, and highly scalable technology has become indispensable. Gartner estimates that we’ll see the public cloud services market reach $204 billion in 2016, an annual growth of 16.5%, and the highest growth is set to come from cloud system infrastructure services. Says Sid Nag, research director at Gartner, “The market for public cloud services is continuing to demonstrate high rates of growth across all markets and Gartner expects this to continue through 2017. This strong growth continues to reflect a shift away from legacy IT services to cloud-based services, due to increased trend of organizations pursuing a digital business strategy.“
Cloud services mean solutions and resources once only accessible by the elite or giants are now open to all. With options such as pay per use and global reach, organizations of all shape and size can tailor packages to suit both their needs and their budgets.
Reduced Costs of Infrastructure
In the three top cloud computing categories, IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, organizations typically don’t need to lay down their own infrastructure or spend money on hardware. Cloud service providers provide the IT teams, connections, software and storage facilities, reducing a business’s Capex costs.
Improved Disaster Recovery
Thanks to the distribution of data across multiple failover points, disaster recovery is a prime benefit of cloud computing. Implementing cloud-based disaster recovery means it’s possible to switch over to mobile systems when necessary and resume the use of local systems thereafter.
Collaboration & Flexibility
Providing advanced solutions for team collaboration, cloud computing allows numerous users to work simultaneously on the same projects and files with real-time updates and no restrictions that bind them to specific sites.
Although cloud computing certainly reduces Capex costs, it naturally increases operational costs adding a monthly burden for the services used. It’s important to weigh up the pros and cons of outsourcing or keeping infrastructure in-house to suit each business and its budget.
A concern in all things IT, cloud computing is no different. It’s important for organizations to identify which data they’re comfortable storing on the cloud, and which perhaps should be off-network. It should be noted, however, that most reputable cloud service providers offer security superior to that which the average business is able to implement. Security doesn’t have to be considered a negative of cloud computing, as long as organizations take the time to ensure the tools they’re using are compliant with regulations and standards, and confirm their service providers are implementing the necessary security features.
Cloud computing, of course, requires an always-on internet connection, good bandwidth, and suitable speeds – only a negative when you haven’t got it.
Although cloud computing provides much flexibility and choice, it’s important to remember that the infrastructure is owned by someone else and so organizations are limited to the services they pay for and the solutions a service provider is willing to provide.
Overall, the drawbacks of cloud computing tend not to cause too much disruption and are easily outweighed by the benefits. It’s important to understand the risks and disadvantages, but the constantly evolving cloud computing environment is rapidly stamping out weaknesses and replacing them with constructive innovations.
By Jennifer Klostermann