When you’re using webmail, photo storage sites like Flickr, document storage such as Dropbox and Google Docs and even social networking sites then you are using cloud computing services. One the preserve of large organisations, cloud computing is now used every day by businesses large and small, as well as individuals. And it’s becoming increasingly popular.
Cloud computing is about delivering computing services remotely, over the Internet. We’ve written previously about the different types of cloud computing services but basically cloud computing allows organisations and individuals to access software and hardware that is managed by a managed service provider on-demand. It’s a convenient shared pool of computing resources that can be scaled up or down depending on your organisations changing needs.
The different types of service model
There are three cloud computing service models:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
- Platform as a Service (PaaS)
- Software as a Service (SaaS)
The IaaS model provides the hardware and network for your business and you can install your own operating system, software and applications. For businesses that choose the PaaS model, you get the hardware, network and an operating system provided. You then have the freedom to install or develop you own applications and software. And finally, in the SaaS model you get the hardware, network, operating system and any software and applications your business needs.
Why is it becoming more popular?
Cloud services are popular because they can reduce the cost and complexity of owning and operating computers and networks. Since cloud users do not have to invest in information technology infrastructure, purchase hardware, or buy software licences, the benefits are low up-front costs, rapid return on investment, rapid deployment, customization, flexible use, and solutions that can make use of new innovations. In addition, cloud providers that have specialized in a particular area (such as e-mail) can bring advanced services that a single company might not be able to afford or develop.
Some other benefits to users include scalability, reliability, and efficiency. Scalability means that cloud computing offers unlimited processing and storage capacity. The cloud is reliable in that it enables access to applications and documents anywhere in the world via the Internet. Cloud computing is often considered efficient because it allows organizations to free up resources to focus on innovation and product development.
Another potential benefit is that personal information may be better protected in the cloud. Specifically, cloud computing may improve efforts to build privacy protection into technology from the start and the use of better security mechanisms. Cloud computing will enable more flexible IT acquisition and improvements, which may permit adjustments to procedures based on the sensitivity of the data. Widespread use of the cloud may also encourage
open standards for cloud computing that will establish baseline data security features common across different services and providers. Cloud computing may also allow for better audit trails. In addition, information in the cloud is not as easily lost (when compared to the paper documents or hard drives, for example).
Cloud computing offers a whole host of benefits for small and medium-sized enterprises. There is no need to invest in expensive hardware that you will not fully use, and your service provider will also take care of the licence fees, equipment maintenance and IT support so you don’t have to worry about updates and you get IT experts who can help your users with their problems. Plus research shows that SMEs can save up to 70% of their IT costs if they move their IT infrastructure to the cloud as you are only charged for what you use, and if the worst happens with cloud based business continuity services you can be back up and running in the shortest possible time.