What is the Cloud?

Author: Mark Cunningham

Published: June 2, 2020

Categories: Small Business

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The cloud is the Internet; a worldwide system of computer networks.

Cloud computing means delivering computer services over the Internet, including services such as storage, networking and software.

Previously, businesses mostly ran software downloaded on their computers or on a much larger computer, known as a server, in their building.

Most businesses have moved to the cloud because it provides easy access to company data online.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of being in the cloud.

7 Benefits of Cloud Computing for Small Business Owners

  1. Big Cost Savings: There’s no need for expensive servers and teams of IT staff to manage them. Also, cloud service providers usually charge a nominal monthly fee and allow you to scale up or down your storage capacity as needed. This means, if you need to reduce your storage, you can switch to a smaller and cheaper deal.
  2. Flexibility: It gives you instant access to your data 24/7 from any location with Internet connection.
  3. Convenience: Software updates are automatic, saving you time and money.
  4. Security: Cloud computing provides data recovery.
  5. Document Control: Cloud software like Google Docs gives you one copy of the document in real-time, preventing numerous versions circulating among your team. It also provides a revision history.
  6. Enhanced Collaboration: Your team can be anywhere in the world and still work together on key goals and projects at the same time.
  7. Sustainability: It cuts down on paper waste.

5 Downsides to Cloud Computing for Small Business Owners

  1. Network Dependency: Your business must always be connected to the Internet to reap the benefits of the cloud. This means you can be vulnerable to Internet outages or slowdowns.
  2. Security Concerns: Even if a cloud service upholds the best security standards, storing data and important files on external service providers always opens up risks.
  3. Vendor lock-in: Differences between vendor platforms may create difficulties in migrating from one cloud platform to another, which could lead to additional costs. The clunky migration process may also lead to data security and privacy risks.
  4. Limited control: Customers retain control of their applications, data and services. But because the service provider owns, manages and monitors the cloud infrastructure, they lose control over their back-end infrastructure.
  5. Cost Blowouts: Although savings are made on hardware and IT staffing, pay-as-you-go cloud services could end up costing you more than you expected. It’s a good idea to experiment with a variety of offerings until you know what works best for you.

Putting it All Together

So, now you know the cloud is another word for the Internet.

Cloud computing refers to computing services delivered over the Internet, including storage, networking and software.

Many businesses adopt cloud computing because it can be a cost effective way to gain a competitive edge such as increased collaboration and innovation.

However, the downsides to consider are network dependency, vendor lock-in and the loss of control over backend infrastructure to the vendor.

If you choose to switch to the cloud, the provider and software you choose will depend on your preferences, your business needs and your budget.