Sent a Skype message recently? Accessed your Gmail account online? Changed your Facebook status? Or perhaps you’re considering an online project management platform? The cloud is behind all of these apps and services, yet, despite the fact that they are all so commonplace as to be mundane, much doubt persists as to what the cloud is, its security, and value.
What’s the Cloud?
The cloud, cloud computing, or on-demand computing, is what we call using servers which we access via the internet. Here, we store and access information – such as photos, files or details about an account – often using an interface or platform that the cloud provider offers as part of their service.
In fact, depending on type of service, your cloud provider may offer a whole range of tools and features that allow you to interact with your information in any number of different ways.
For example, an email service will typically allow you to not only read messages and add contacts, but also you will be able to retain and watch videos and access other files which have been included in an email chain. Or an online workspace for project management will allow you to have discussions, assign tasks and reference version-controlled documents – all online, via a remote server, in the cloud.
How Secure is it?
Cloud-based services are provided by technology specialists, normally with a huge degree of complex resources, expertise and infrastructure to ensure security levels that far outweigh those of most in-house IT departments and networks. Also, the networks, risk mitigations and failsafes of those systems are under constant review, experience ongoing maintenance and upgrades. Cloud providers fully recognise that their businesses rely on reputation and reliability, so it is extremely rare for businesses to encounter safety issues as a result of incorporating cloud technology into their operations.
What Value does it bring to Business?
Of course this will depend very much on the nature of your business. But if an organisation uses files to store and access information; or if it uses some form of email to hold discussions; if it needs to retain and revisit information; or if it relies on an IT department to service hardware, install and maintain software, and provide training, then there is every possibility that cloud computing could revolutionise that business’s daily practices, productivity and spending.
Cloud computing offers the opportunity of better, cheaper, more reliable IT systems, improved collaboration, better security, and huge cost saving. It allows organisations to move away from paper-based methods of record-keeping, making their practices far more efficient and economical.