Cloud computing: what are the advantages for your organisation?
A range of computer services in the cloud, bought from a third party which hosts the service for you and a for lot of other customers: that’s cloud computing in a nutshell.
But where does it come from, and how can you as an organisation benefit from it? We’ll tell you about the basics here.
The term ‘cloud computing’ is on everyone’s lips these days, though it’s anything but new: the concept behind it dates back to the 1960s. Back then, you could buy time from specialist companies in order to work on their mainframe - a kind of forerunner of the server. That way, you didn’t have to invest in your own costly infrastructure or people to manage it, you hired them as and when you needed them. With the rise of the PC, this practice went out of fashion: computers were cheaper and were powerful enough to perform complex tasks and store files. Later, data servers were added: companies just bought their own server to store their data.
Today, leasing is back big time. There’s absolutely no need any more to have a lot of specialist hardware in house. You really can do everything you need to in a modern company with a minimum of equipment: telephony, video calls, chats, e-mails, text messaging, working together on presentations, storing files securely and so on. All you need is a computer or smartphone - and, of course, a fast internet connection. You log on via your browser to a third party which offers some service or other: e-mail, word processing, CRM, a database or a platform that will make your professional life easier. These hosts’ services are in the cloud: the programs run on physical servers, and the files are stored on these, but the servers are not in your server room. You can’t see them nor touch them, in a manner of speaking they hover high above you in the clouds - that’s why it’s called ‘in the cloud’.
For example, instead of running Microsoft Word on your laptop and storing your texts on your own hard drive (or on the office server), you work via a browser directly in the online version of Word, via Office 365. Your documents are then stored in your personal OneDrive folder. Or you work via Google Docs: same system, same benefits.
Cloud computing really does offer a lot of benefits. However, the most important one is this: you can focus more on what matters to you – your customers. You don’t have to lie awake at night because of IT logistics, for example: you don’t have to constantly make sure in person that everyone in your organisation is able to work smoothly and securely, because you just outsource that responsibility. Which gives you the time and space you need to engage with your core tasks.
Another huge advantage: the cost. Instead of investing in expensive servers and infrastructure, or in software applications which you run on your computer, you lease these applications. Your employees then work with them via the internet. So you don't have to buy a maintenance contract or pay for updates - you're working with the latest version at all times in any case. By the way, a lot of cloud services operate on the principle of only paying for what you use. So you don’t need an expensive subscription for a service that you only use occasionally. And a company that offers e-mail or data storage will probably be a specialist in that subject: you’ll therefore be better off financially than if you hire your own in-house specialists. And you can rest assured that the third party’s services are guaranteed to be secure and efficient.
Talking about security: is it really secure to entrust a third party with your files and data, some of it sensitive? If hackers - and they’re getting bolder and more professional all the time - can break into your IT infrastructure, why shouldn’t they be able to get round a host’s security? A good point, but bear in mind that security is the number one priority for any host: unlike the IT department in an average organisation, they don’t have to divide up their time between a dozen other projects. In other words, they’ve got it in hand. And by the way: your employees themselves are the weakest link in your security, so it’s worth while to make them properly security-conscious.
Want to protect yourself against cybercrime? Do it using these tips.
Curious about how Destiny will make your organisation more secure? Read more here about the next-generation Palo Alto firewall
Another advantage is easy scalability. As your business expands, you can add users more easily; if you downsize, your subscription can shrink to this level or to no service at all without too much hassle. You can also try out online software solutions for a while without purchasing expensive licenses: that way, you’ll know if they’re right for you or not.
Your employees can also collaborate better using applications in the cloud. They don't have to be physically in the same room to have a quick brainstorm or work efficiently on a presentation: thanks to cloud communication, it’s no big deal for them to make video calls, chat or send files. And customised cloud communication not only makes their life easier, your customers also benefit, because they can reach you at any time.
How can cloud communication give your service delivery a boost? Find out here
Want to know even more about cloud computing? Read all about Private vs. Public Cloud here.