You have probably heard the term “cloud” and related phrases such as “cloud computing” and “cloud storage.” These terms are being used more and more often, to the point where they have become part of our daily language. Most users, however, have no idea what “cloud” actually means. So, what exactly is the cloud and why should you care?
What’s this cloud stuff all about?
First, it’s not that fluffy white stuff in the sky. It’s much more down to earth than that. The cloud term came about as engineers drew data connectivity over the internet on their whiteboards using a cloud symbol as representation. The cloud typically refers to the software and/or services you access remotely over the internet instead of locally on your computer.
When data is stored in the cloud, it means it’s stored somewhere — lots of somewheres — and a network of servers find what you need and deliver it. By storing information online, your data can be accessed from anywhere you have an internet connection through a web browser like Edge, Firefox or Chrome, with some companies offering dedicated mobile apps as well.
Some examples of business cloud services include Microsoft OneDrive and Office 365. Automatic (offsite) backups can be on the cloud and you can even put your business phone system on the cloud. And… the benefits of the cloud aren’t just for large enterprises. Small businesses are starting to see a real value in going to the cloud.
According to Netmetix:
- Cloud computing can save small business energy costs by 90%.
- 82% of small businesses say it’s important to buy cloud computing from a company with local reach.
- 41% of profit-focused small business owners plan to invest in the cloud.
- 58% agree that being on the cloud has given them better control of their data.
So why would you want to use the cloud?
The main reasons are convenience, reliability and many times cost reductions. Using cloud services/applications online allow the convenience to make edits to a file in Office 365 on your home computer, and then pick up where you left off when you get to the office. Colleagues can even collaborate on the same document.
Information stored in the cloud is also typically backed up, so you’re less likely to lose your data. However, because your data may not be stored on your system, there are other factors to consider such as privacy, security, and the longevity of the company and service you use.
A cost benefit of the cloud is that, because remote servers handle much of the computing and storage, you don’t necessarily need an expensive, local high-end server, desktops or laptops to get your work done.This can save a business hundreds and many times thousands of dollars.
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