Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction…
- “NIST.gov – Computer Security Division – Computer Security Resource Center”. Csrc.nist.gov. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
Cloud computing is simply running applications or using resources from somewhere off in the internet, rather than your local computer. For example many of us use Quickbooks. We buy the software and load it up on our PC and use it as needed. Quickbooks has a “cloud” version called Quickbooks Online. With Quickbooks online you run your quickbooks sofware “in the cloud” or off somewhere else in cyberspace and access it on your PC via your web browser. You get the same functionality ( mostly ) but you dont load the software on your PC and you can access the “cloud” from any network enabled device. Many cloud software applications also include the ability to use their software from smart phones such as the iPhone or Android devices.
There are a number of benefits to cloud computing and also a number of drawbacks. First the good. Your data is accessible from nearly anywhere. If your PC crashes you can simply use a different device to continue using your applications. Usually the up front cost of software is much cheaper. In the quickbooks example used above loading the software locally would cost a couple hundred dollars. Quickbooks online somewhere around $34 a month. Upgrades to software are done automatically by the application company so you dont need to constantly deal with service packs and upgrades as you would if you bought the software.
Now the downside. You have to trust your data to a 3rd party. For most of us this isn’t an issue but there are times when sensitive data cannot be shared with 3rd parties. Also you have to trust the cloud to be stable. Given the number of cloud users vs the amount of downtime experienced the cloud should be much more reliable than any indavidual network, however, there have been a number of very large scale outages in the cloud including amazon and google.
If you are worried about your data or have sensitive information that you cant possibly chance trusting a 3rd party with then cloud computing might not be for you. The good news is you could still benefit from a Private Cloud offering. Many businesses have started the transition to Private Clouds. This is where infrastructure is setup at your local office or place of business to allow central management and delivery of your applications and resources. There are many options and scenario’s for a private cloud. Your business gets the benefits of cloud computing while retaining control of the data. Many businesses have started to realize the savings of virtualization and localization of resources.
If you are interested in discussing or learning more about cloud computing and some of the offerings available give us a call.