“The Cloud”, a term that was banded around with quick succession in both the marketing and IT world, had officially become the IT buzz world by the end of 2012. So what is cloud computing and did it really have that much of an impact on businesses over the last year?
What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing could be simplified as internet based data connections. Cloud computing could be anything from web based email such as hotmail or gmail to using a virtual server with all data stored and accessed through an internet connection. This virtualised approach to data management is essentially the core benefit of a cloud based approach – data accessed anywhere. According to software giant Microsoft, cloud computing is going to be the future for large and small enterprises, alike. However, putting business sensitive data on to somebody else’s server has always been a sticking point for many a firm’s information technology executive. With the emergence of private cloud computing from Microsoft, and others, these fears are starting to be addressed.
Cloud computing for Business
The real advantage of cloud computing is that businesses do not need to invest heavily in their own private data servers and storage back up facilities. Also, information and applications can be accessed in many different ways, from computers to tablets to smartphones. The advantage of a third party data centre is that it will be designed to withstand problems of power failure, power spikes and have disaster recovery systems in place, should the worst happen. Because the infrastructure is set up for many, the costs are shared, which is a real advantage for smaller operators. With public cloud servers, accessing data servers can be charged on an as-you-use-it basis, giving a great deal of flexibility for controlling business costs.
However, it is not just the smaller and more technology aware companies that are embracing cloud computing. In October, car manufacturer Toyota announced a massive deal with Microsoft Office 365 to transfer the daily computing services of 200,000 employees. Toyota decided to ditch its previous supplier, IBM’s Lotus Notes, to make the move to cloud computing.
The advantage of the cloud for businesses with lot of employees is that many applications don’t need to be installed and maintained on every computer in the business. A particular application needs to be installed on the server, with an adequate number of licences, and it can be accessed remotely via the internet. This means less things to maintain for IT staff. And it also means less trips to head office for satellite staff who can’t work because they have a local software problem with their laptop.
Within a cloud computing set up, there is a significant shift of workload towards the server. Local terminals simply no longer have to do as much work as they no longer run as many applications. Instead, the network of servers that make up the cloud, deal with the processing. Therefore, both the hardware and software demands made upon the local terminal goes down. This allows staff to work efficiently with computers that are less powerful. The cost saving implication of providing lots of staff with less powerful computers, not increasingly more demanding ones, is obvious.
According to the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), an organ of the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, the government is also committed to a future cloud economy. The TSB said in December that £5 million investment would go into the cloud. The idea is that issues that currently put a brake in the adoption of cloud services for many organisations, such as interoperability, data resilience and identity protection issues, need some government support to be overcome. Iain Gray, who is the Chief Executive of TSB, said that the cloud continues to grow by 26 per cent each year. According to Gray, well known UK brands such as BAE Systems, Jaguar Land Rover and the BBC have all been involved in collaborative research projects with them in 2012 which could pave the way for more cloud take up in the coming year.
About the Author: Mike works for cloud hosting experts ElasticHosts whose cloud based innovations, such as SSD servers, continue to shake up the server industry!