Cloud computing is one of the hottest trends in IT at the moment, allowing businesses to make the most of the internet to manage their operations in an affordable, efficient and secure manner.
It works by delivering all manner of computer programmes and functions as services across the internet that can be accessed wherever a connection can be found. These could be infrastructure, email, applications or storage, to name a few.
Accessibility is not the only benefit. Users also do not need to know anything about the technology that lies beneath, while providers are responsible for maintenance and security. What’s more, by essentially outsourcing these services, it reduces the need to have specialist staff in-house, which can help drive cost-savings.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
For businesses that find themselves spending a lot of money on IT infrastructure, IaaS provides an excellent solution. Computers, processors and storage platforms, for example, are accessed remotely. It is of the most benefit to larger firms that would otherwise have their own computer installations.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
PaaS works by giving businesses the ability to create their own software and programmes that are necessary to function. For example, an owner of a small firm will outsource its operating system, prorgamming environment, web servers and database to an outside company. These form the platform from which a firm functions. It saves money on hardware and software investment, while also reducing storage costs.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
SaaS gives start-up businesses all the software and programmes they need completely ready to use. This is the most useful solution to small businesses as it provides access to a wide array of applications and necessitates minimal expertise. There are no convoluted installation procedures and because they are run via the internet, firms need not be concerned over whether their hardware can cope.
Examples of ways cloud computing can be used
Companies have in the past had to use programmes like Microsoft Outlook to manage their email and Word or Excel to compose documents or spreadsheets. This requires having the Microsoft Office suite installed on a computer to access. The drawback of this is that if a person needs to access the software or email account from another computer, they need to have it installed there too. With cloud-based solutions, such as Google Docs or Microsoft 365, users can access not just the software, but also all their personal work and accounts.
For those companies that wish to cut down on physical IT infrastructure on their premises, outsourcing servers to the cloud can be a fantastic solution. It provides utmost flexibility to users as the processing power of the servers can be adjusted accordingly to meet changing needs. For those that have this in-house, it may work out much more expensive to invest in infrastructure for a temporary peak in processing needs, only for it to return to original levels, leaving the outlay largely redundant.
How to begin a move to the cloud
Businesses can rest assured that if they are considering a move to the cloud, they do not have to go about a wholesale transformation right away. Emma de Heveningham, head of emerging products at EE, explained that firms can start small.
“Cloud gives you a chance to try out new services in a low-risk way. You don't have to start with the big decisions about whether to migrate your email, your customer database and so on. You can start small, test out a few applications and then, once you're ready, tackle some of the bigger IT decisions.”