One of the big buzzwords in recent years has been the ‘cloud’ and how much of a game-changer it has been for businesses – but do you know what it means?
The world of technology is so fast-moving and often complex that it is sometimes easier just to accept an innovation without really thinking about how it changes things. As you would expect, you are better off knowing how such applications are changing, particularly since a move to the cloud tends to bring with it a number of benefits.
Firms rely on a variety of software to organize their operations and where previously they might have bought a custom-built product or an off-the-shelf option and that was that; now many system providers have moved to a cloud-based software-as-a-service model.
The name comes from the symbol used in system diagrams to represent the complex network that contains all the data and operational capability to make cloud computing a reality. Essentially, using the cloud means storing data on the internet rather than on your own desktop or server.
What this means is that people who utilize cloud-based software will pay for the amount of space they need to operate, which will scale up according to how much they use their chosen application. Due to the remote nature of the cloud – connected by the internet – it means that geographical distances become much less of an issue both to providers and customers.
What this means for you as a customer of a cloud-based program rather than a traditionally installed system is that you can generally access all of the data you need from anywhere that has internet access. In the past, you might have had to use a specific computer to get the information, but cloud systems allows different devices to use an application, often without even having installed new software.
Logically, this means that you will need to always have your log-in details ready, but this is a small price to pay for the additional flexibility it offers, as well as the economies of scale that the cloud system has demonstrated since hitting the mainstream.
The scope for archiving data means that you could have a huge amount of information available to you at the touch of a button without worrying about how you will accommodate this growing collection of data – this is a task for your provider.
As with any major shift in the technological world, there have been concerns raised regarding cloud computing – many of which come down to people’s basic dislike of change. The safety and security of information is generally the most talked-about problem, which firms worry about because service providers have unprecedented access to sensitive statistics.
While security will always be an issue when you store information, you do not avoid this by keeping data on a local drive – it could still be hacked by a cyber criminal. The key is to be confident that the service providers you use have an effective security system in place and that no third parties can access your data.