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The cloud is a term that you hear often and many are still not sure exactly what is meant by the term. To break it down, the cloud is just a word used to explain that you are utilizing someone else’s servers and infrastructure. It is most often used though, to talk about storing Big Data or even our everyday emails.
Email hosting has always been done in the cloud. If you’ve used Gmail to store documents, images and files, then you’ve used the cloud. All social media sites “live” in the public cloud including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and even LinkedIn. Most of us use the cloud every day to store things like images, videos and documents. For instance, if you use Dropbox or YouTube you’re storing your stuff in the cloud.
The Cloud: A Simple Explanation
Forget about the technical lingo and just imagine a world where everyone has to build their own water treatment plant in order to get clean water for their home. Now, someone comes along and says, “Why don’t we build one big treatment plant and everyone will share the expenses?”
Now the whole community gets clean drinking water and each resident pays a small portion of the cost to run the facility. That makes a lot more sense, right? No one could afford to build their own power plant just to get electricity, but when the cost is distributed over a city, then it becomes affordable for everyone. We can all get reliable water and electricity for reasonable costs.
And that’s how the cloud works. Everyone shares the expense so that it’s cost-efficient. A small business can take advantage of the storage possibilities at a cost that fits the budget. That makes it easier for small business owners to compete with large enterprise organizations. The cloud levels the playing field. It’s more convenient and it’s even safer than storing documents on your local servers or hard drives.
The cloud offers unique business solutions to businesses large and small. It gives everyone a chance at the same technology resources that only big corporations could afford in the past. It’s very flexible as well. You can easily increase the amount of storage capacity and add users when necessary. Scaling up or down isn’t a big deal.
That’s what makes the cloud work so well. Everyone can take advantage of its power and usefulness and no one has to pay more than their fair share. The cloud greatly simplifies the back end of small business IT infrastructure.
Your company can store information at a remote data center rather than on premises. It gives small businesses the ability to do large scale business at lower costs.
What Are The Drawbacks To Using The Cloud?
There are pros and cons to just about everything but with the Cloud, there really aren’t that many drawbacks. One of the most essential is that you lose some control over your data. Another is that if you’re uploading and downloading large amounts of data, your internet speeds may be slower. It’s pretty easy to fix this one. Simply plan your large-scale projects in the evenings when your staff is home with their families.
What Are The Benefits To Using The Cloud?
Data redundancy and replication: Most cloud vendors maintain multiple copies of your files, apps and documents at data centers in different geographic locations. That means that if a data center in Milwaukee is wiped out, you’ll still have copies of your records in other locations. There’s very little likelihood that all data centers in every geographic location would be destroyed simultaneously.
Reduced costs: As mentioned above, you’ll get significant savings using the cloud’s mass scale computing capabilities.
Regulatory compliance: If you’re in an industry that has regulations like FINRA, PCI and HIPAA, the cloud can help with compliance. It has powerful tools built right in that ensure your data is protected whether at rest, in transit or archived.
Better collaboration: The cloud is available on-demand to computers and other devices from any location at any point in time. This means your workforce can collaborate no matter where they are. Documents can be shared or edited in real-time.
Improved security: In general, data stored in the cloud is safer than when stored on local servers. Although many firms cite security as a reason for their reluctance to move to the cloud, there are actually very few data breaches involving cloud providers. The majority of data breaches are due to lost, stolen, or discarded devices and paper records, rogue employees, or human error.
What’s the Bottom Line?
With today’s hybrid and private clouds, your business can have a system that’s protected and accessible from anywhere 24 x 7–one that’s totally encrypted and secure. And this is completely affordable for today’s business owners. Most professionals agree that the benefits of using the cloud far outweigh the drawbacks. It’s no mystery why thousands of businesses each year jump on the cloud.