Guest article by Sue Poremba
If you are reading this, you probably understand that cloud computing doesn’t have anything to do with rain or snow. However, for a lot of people data stored in the cloud might as well be in the white fluffy things in the sky for as much as they understand cloud computing and how it operates.
Even the very term "cloud" can be confusing because there is still no one solid definition of what the cloud is or does. In its simplest terms the cloud is simply a computer, or a bunch of computers, connected to the Internet.
"Cloud computing is the concept of accessing your business applications over the Internet. Instead of running your own servers, business applications and performing software updates and maintenance, those responsibilities are managed by the service provider," explained David Ciccarelli, CEO of Voices.com, which provides voice-over talent and a company that relies on the cloud for its business.
Uploading files to your cloud is going to be dependent on your provider. As Matthew Neely, director of research and innovation at SecureState, pointed out, some providers use a web interface and other use a local program to sync you data to the cloud, for example.
The most important thing to understand about the cloud is how it will benefit your company. Neely provided these three points to explain how the cloud can best work for you:
- Flexibility in cost. With most cloud providers you only pay for the storage space you use. So if your company needs a lot or a little space the bill would reflect that. On a traditional IT system you would need to purchase hard drives big enough to support the max amount of data you would store. With cloud, you can just purchase what you need.
- Elastic. It is easy to quickly grow and shrink the amount of storage you have. So let’s say your business takes off and you need to hire 200 new employees. With a cloud storage provider you just let them know how much more space you need and they take care of the rest. On the other side, if your company is going through downsizing and laying off employees you can also quickly shrink the amount of storage you need and pay less for the service. This ties into the bullet point above as well.
- Easy access to data. Because your cloud storage can be accessed over the internet you and your employees can easily access it from just about anywhere. So your employees in Europe, the U.S. and working from home can all access their data. Of course, this is also why security is a big concern and why it is important to perform a security review on your cloud service provider.
Yes, the cloud can be a complicated technology; however, if you understand the basics, you can approach your cloud provider to get answers to the tougher questions.
Sue Poremba blogs for Rackspace Hosting. Rackspace Hosting is the service leader in cloud computing, and a founder of OpenStack, an open source cloud operating system. The San Antonio-based company provides Fanatical Support to its customers and partners, across a portfolio of IT services, including Managed Hosting and Cloud Computing.