Taking Your Business to the Next Level With Cloud Computing

By Lori McConvilleBlog

The Internet has fundamentally changed the way companies do business, and as innovations in technology continue to march forward, it is safe to say that our new economy will become even more intricately intertwined with the Web. To ensure that your business can continue to compete in the twenty-first century, it is essential to understand and embrace cloud computing. Put simply, business in the twenty-first century is done in the cloud, and the more comfortable you are with this incredibly useful technology, the better your company will be able to compete in the new knowledge-based data economy.

What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is one of the advances in computing to stem directly from relatively recent breakthroughs in broadband; these innovations make it simple to quickly and efficiently send and receive huge amounts of data through an Internet connection, making it less imperative to save information on your computer’s hard drive than it was just a few years ago.

Understandably, the cloud makes many people uneasy. Given the negative connotations that go along with a literal cloud (connotations ranging from poor weather conditions to the unattainability and intangible nature of a cloud due to the sheer distance between us and the sky) combined with how clouds are used metaphorically in the English language (cloudy suggesting that something is unclear or vague), it is not surprising that the cloud metaphor is slightly off-putting or disconcerting for many people, but the cloud is actually an extremely safe and efficient method of storing your data, and once you understand its basic principles, it becomes clear that cloud computing is a relatively simple concept.

On its most basic level, cloud computing is simply storing your data remotely, usually in multiple datacenters, and accessing it from anywhere in the world through an Internet connection. Storing your information in the cloud is an alternative to the traditional method of storing your data locally, usually on your computer’s internal hard drive or on an external hard drive, and for many reasons, cloud computing is much safer and keeps your data more secure than storing it locally.

Applications for your business can also be stored in the cloud, making it less important for you to purchase expensive computers with huge hard drives for storage. In fact, many computer manufacturers are now making computers with the cloud in mind; this new generation of computers runs simplified versions of traditional operating systems and has very small amounts of onboard storage. Google’s Chromebook and Chromebox computer lines are great examples of these new types of computers.

Who uses cloud computing?
While many people are still getting used to the idea of cloud computing, almost everyone makes use of the cloud every single day. Without knowing it, we are constantly interacting with the cloud whenever we get online.

For example, if you use a popular web-based email client like Google’s Gmail, you’re already participating in the cloud computing revolution! Gmail is widely used by businesses as well as individuals for private use, and its users trust Google to protect the sensitive information in their inboxes. You don’t store your emails on your computer; instead, you log in to Gmail from any computer anywhere on Earth and have access to your emails.

Facebook is another example of the cloud at work; according to some estimates, as many as 1.44 billion people actively use Facebook, the web-based social media client. Those 1.44 billion people save their information on Facebook. When you want to update your status, you can do it from anywhere you have an Internet connection.

The data we save on web-based services like Gmail and Facebook is not stored locally on our computer’s hard drive. In fact, those services function efficiently because you store your information with them. Trusting these sites to store your data is as much a matter of convenience as functionality.

What are the benefits of cloud computing?
One of the most important benefits of cloud computing is obvious: you can access your data through any Internet connection on the planet; however, perhaps cloud computer’s most crucial benefit for your business is its security. When you store your data in a secure datacenter, you are protecting your business from not only Internet hackers but also natural disasters, such as fires, tornadoes and floods, and accidental deletion.

To combat data thieves, many datacenters provide around-the-clock security that protects your data from digital threats. Data breaches are not just a problem for you; they’re a problem for your customers. Putting your data in the cloud is a safe and secure way to protect your customers.

A natural disaster has the potential to totally wipe out every piece of technology in your place of business, an absolutely unthinkable tragedy for a business trying to participate in the twenty-first century economy. Similarly, with just a keystroke or a click of the mouse, accidental deletion of your files can send your business back to 90s. In a natural disaster or an accidental deletion situation, you could be facing losing every piece of information you have about your products or services and your customers. Can your business afford to start over from scratch?

These may seem like nightmare scenarios, but data breaches, natural disasters and accidental deletions happen every single day. If one of these tragedies happened to your business tomorrow, could it survive?

Cloud computing is a relatively inexpensive and secure option that will help elevate your business to the next level and allow it to compete effectively. While the cloud can be a little intimidating, don’t let it scare you. The cloud is a tool that will make your business run smoother and give you peace of mind.