Ask Tech Effect: What Is The Cloud
As you watch the news, companies are introducing new technologies that involve “the cloud”.
Cloud technology is growing in prominence and becoming part of our everyday lives.
We even use it every day with our personal emails such as Gmail, so the cloud has been readily embraced.
But sometimes you hear of tech companies claiming that the cloud can bring a lot of benefits to your company’s operations.
However, you think of the cloud as a convenient place to store documents and check your email. How can it provide your company benefits apart from doing the things you already could do?
What Do We Mean By Cloud?
To answer those questions, we have to first define what we mean when we say “in the cloud”.
Like actual clouds in the sky, we use the term “cloud software” or “cloud technology” to refer to IT that is accessible to us from anywhere without actually owning it.
It’s like the clouds in the sky; they are always in the sky no matter where we are in the world. We never actually own the clouds either.
Cloud technology is something we can use anytime, anywhere. As long as we have the Internet and the proper credentials, we can access our email, documents and even software from anywhere in the world.
What Is The Cloud?
Now that we know what being in the cloud means, it’s time to look at the actual components of the cloud.
Despite the name, cloud technology isn’t actually in the sky.
“The cloud” is actually a network of servers stored in a location. We’re not just talking about the few servers that you might have in a company.
A network of servers has several servers with each one serving a different purpose.
You must also have enough servers to accommodate the number of users that you expect to use the service, so it is not likely to be enough to have one or two.
Your company may have their own network of servers, or you may be working with a company who owns their own network.
The network can be accessed by anyone with an Internet connection, and depending on the service you need, can store information or provide software to users.
Companies such as Google (with their ever popular Google Drive) and Adobe (with their Creative Cloud suite) are two prominent examples of cloud providers that provide different services.
Everyone knows Google with their Google Drive which lets you work with documents in the cloud. You may also be using Google’s email, Gmail, which works the same way; storing your emails in the cloud.
Adobe, known for their Creative Suite software, now has Creative Cloud, which lets you access their design software (ie. Photoshop) as long as you have a paid account and Internet connection.
There are several other companies that use the cloud, such as Facebook and Instagram.
Your company might also have its own cloud depending on the number of users within the company.
Where Do The Benefits Come From?
The benefits from the cloud are primarily for users of the cloud, and mostly for business.
For one, with software in the cloud, costs are greatly reduced across the board.
A great example of this is Microsoft Office 365.
Instead of buying individual licenses of Microsoft Office for all of your employees (which will be an extremely expensive option if you have hundreds/thousands of employees), you can buy Office 365 which can get you 5 users for 1 license, drastically cutting costs.
As Office 365 is software that constantly updates with Microsoft, you will automatically get the newer version of Microsoft Office without having to go through the trouble of buying all the licenses for the next Microsoft version.
Calculations have shown with Adobe Creative Cloud show that signing up for at least 2 years is actually cheaper than buying Adobe’s Creative Suite 6 for your team outright.
Also, with other companies investing in the hardware such as servers, you will never need to invest money in hardware yourself, which can save a lot of money on initial purchasing, maintenance and upgrades.
You will also never have to worry about losing your data within your company as it is all held in a separate location. This is also true for backups, as you can retrieve your data from the cloud in the event of a company power outage.
If all your company software and documents are stored in the cloud, this lets employees work from anywhere in the world as long as they have an Internet connection.
This allows for more opportunities for remote work, which can lead to higher employee satisfaction and increased productivity.
Cloud technology also allows employees to collaborate and talk to each other while they might not be in the office, which is helpful for international assignments or when an employee is unable to come into the
What Are The Disadvantages?
None of the benefits that technology companies advertise are wrong.
But it wouldn’t be correct to say that the cloud is perfect, as it brings several issues with it as well.
As you might imagine, privacy is highly prized among companies, especially those that work with highly confidential information.
Leaving such information, such as employee records, in the cloud can be risky as that data is now being stored on property that doesn’t belong to you.
This doesn’t seem terrible until you realise that by placing your data with another company, that data no longer fully belongs to you.
It’s similar to posting pictures on the Internet through places such as Facebook or Instagram. Once you post a picture to the cloud, it’s stored on the company’s servers. They now have access to that picture.
For multi-national companies such as Google, they will have servers in other continents around the world, not just Australia.
Data is frequently transferred to and from these servers, so there may be copies of that picture saved on those servers, and you would not know.
That was just for a simple picture of food that you took at a restaurant and then uploaded to Facebook.
Imagine this copying and transferring being done with more confidential information, such as reports or records.
Also, should there be legal problems that arise and law enforcement needs to see your data, they might go to the company whose server you are using and ask to acquire your data for police purposes.
When your data is hosted on another company’s server, you won’t have to worry about problems at your company affecting your data and backups.
Of course, as you know, things happen. Problems happen at every company, and in the event something happens to the host company’s servers, it affects ALL the information on those servers.
You have seen such events happen to high profile companies, one of them being Ashley Madison.
Hackers managed to infiltrate the company’s servers and compromise the data by spreading it around the Internet.
The actual chance of that happening to your company is extremely low.
But the fact that the possibility cannot be fully eliminated can be unsettling for some companies who work with personal information.
Cloud Is Becoming Part Of Our World
Even with all the risks that exist in the cloud, the benefits are bringing more and more companies on board.
Software solutions are being released on the cloud, along with many data storage solutions.
There have even been talks about the difference between consumer and business usage of the cloud, and how that difference needs to be emphasized.
For companies, there is no better time to cut costs and increase efficiency than moving services to the cloud.
By working with software and storage in the cloud, you can adapt your usage to company growth and ensure that you’re not paying for anything that you don’t need.
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