Cloud Computing Overview
Cloud Computing is becoming extremely popular because Cloud Computing allows you to:
- Work from anywhere, anytime as if you’re in the office
- Keep your data backed up
- Regain your work/life balance
- Bring teams together that are geographically diverse
What is the Cloud?
Cloud computing is the use of computing services that are delivered as a service over the Internet.
The name comes from the use of a cloud-shaped symbol as an abstraction for the complex infrastructure it contains in system diagrams. Cloud computing entrusts remote services with a user’s data, software and computation. [Wikipedia.com, 2012]
How does it work?
Cloud Computing Service Providers (like Office 365 and Dropbox) set up and host their own infrastructure (servers). They then host your IT services (email, files, CRM, accounts etc) on that infrastructure and charge a monthly fee for maintaining the hardware, backing up the data and improving the system.
There are 4 forms of presentation of the Cloud to you.
- Access via a web portal: You access the Cloud service such as CRM or Accounts package through a website.
- Access via an installable application: An example is using email through Outlook while the server (and your data) is held on the Cloud.
- Direct Sync: You work on your files locally and an application installed on your computer then synchronises your files with the Cloud.
- Remote Desktop: You work on a virtual computer on the Internet. All your programs, email and files are stored on the virtual computer.
Is it secure?
All data transmissions between you and the server should be secured via some method of encryption which encodes your data so that it cannot be read by others. This prevents hackers from viewing your data while it is travelling to the Cloud.
Data stored on the server is also encrypted again to ensure that no staff at the Cloud Service Provider can read your data.
However, according to UK and US laws the data must be accessible if required by the government in case of suspicious activity such as terrorism etc.
Is it reliable?
The Cloud Computing Service Provider will most likely be very, very reliable. It is in their interest to ensure that your service runs smoothly and without interruption. Providers are investing heavily in failsafe systems that ensure that services can continue despite any possible disaster.
However, your Internet connection is not so reliable. Very few broadband connections in the UK offer a service level guarantee and so it is far more likely that your Internet connection will drop out before anything happens to the Cloud.
How fast is it?
The Cloud Computing Service Providers usually have insanely fast connections. But these connections are shared with many customers so speed may become a problem if the Cloud Service Provider becomes over-subscribed. However, with careful monitoring this should not happen.
A more likely cause of speed issues is your Internet connection. While your connection may be a blisteringly fast 20 Mbps download, did you know that you only send at around 1 Mpbs. As you are mostly sending data to the Cloud you can see that there can be times when your Internet connection is just too slow to send large files or large emails.
How much does it cost?
Cloud Computing services are mostly pay-as-you-go which means you only pay for the services you use. Microsoft prices are falling regularly and their services improves from time to time with their prices starting from as little as £3.10 per user, per month. By contrast Dropbox services start from as little as FREE!
What you are charged depends on what you need and what you use.
You usually get to choose between annual payments or monthly subscription so Cloud services are much more budget friendly.
Moving to Cloud Computing…
Like anything in IT, the success of the project depends on planning and technical ability. That’s why so many customers engage us to consult, plan and manage their migration to the Cloud. With our usual ‘minimal-downtime’ attitude, extensive experience and qualifications, we aim to move you to the Cloud as seamlessly as possible.
We are trained experts in Cloud Computing technology so please contact us to get started today.