We hear so much about Cloud based computing these days. It is hard not to see or hear an advertisement on the radio or television that isn’t offering some product or service that is performed in the Cloud. So what is this Cloud and what does it mean to my business? Great question that deserves a simple answer.
First, let’s define what Cloud computing is. Wikipedia defines it as the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network (typically the Internet). Now, that’s a mouthful. So the Cloud is a “server” that sits somewhere other than our office or home, that performs certain functions and offers me services that I can access from my devices, like my desktop, laptop, smartphone, or tablet computer. Therefore Cloud computing providers deliver applications via the internet, which are accessed from a web browser, while the business software and data are stored on servers at a remote location.
This is no different than how we receive our homes electric service from the local grid. Consumers consume power without needing to understand the component devices or infrastructure required to provide the service. All we want to know is that the light turns on with the switch and the outlet provides power to all my appliances and other electronics. But, wait, there’s more…
There are significant benefits to being in the cloud. Here are just a few:
Agility – because of their size and sheer number of clientele, they get lots of free feedback from the users and can make changes in short periods of time.
Cost – someone else paid to develop the platform, and they considered it an operational expense, not a capital expenditure. This lowers the price of entry for the user since the owner of the cloud based application makes money several ways. In some cases accessing the cloud is free, but they will market to you in many ways to see what you are willing to pay for.
Device and location independence – since they are accessible from any device with a web browser, I don’t have to go to a central location to use the system. And, since I can gain access to the web via Wi-Fi or other access points, they can be accessed from almost anywhere. I don’t even have to own any equipment in some cases since I can go to the local library, coffee shop or breakfast eatery and gain access to the internet.
Maintenance – say goodbye to the maintenance headaches for these services. In the past you have to load a version of software on every device. Today you can just provide an internet portal and let users access the system themselves.
Reliability – these cloud based application use multi-point redundancy, which means they are backed up and stored on servers all across the world, in some cases. This is great news for business continuity and disaster recovery. This means you will be down less often and the worry of a failed hard drive may soon be a thing of the past.
Security – typically centralized servers are tightly controlled, locked inside server rooms with security key-card access points. The servers are also encrypted to minimize or eliminate virus and hacking threats. Don’t let this lull you to security heaven though. You personal or business accounts can still be hacked if you do not protect your login and passwords. Your personal security still rests with you. Do your best to log out of cloud based systems when done updating them, and never give out your access information to anyone you cannot trust. For me, that is a very small list.
In our next post we will provide examples of a few great cloud based computing services. It is highly likely you have heard of most of them, and have even used some of them. Until then, get you head in the clouds and profit by it.
This is just another example of how we are teaching our clients to Market Naturally.