The cloud – What is it really? Why should I be using it?

Cloud computing means storing and accessing data and applications over the Internet, instead of your computer’s hard drive. In essence the Cloud is a metaphor for the Internet. Nearly every internet user is using the Cloud in some way, they just might not realise it. The Cloud can be broadly divided into 3 different types:

Public cloud – owned and operated by third-party providers so no hardware or maintenance costs and offers a pay as you go approach to their IT services. Easily scalable.

Private cloud – bespoke infrastructures designed to cater for a specific business, hosted at a data centre or on-site.

Hybrid cloud – combine the best bits of both public and private clouds depending on the operation you’re looking to perform.

More and more businesses are consuming IT through the cloud, but switching from in-house hosting to the Cloud can seem like a big step for some businesses. As with most things in life and online, there are pro’s and cons associated with both sides of the Cloud coin. So, we’ve taken a closer look at cloud hosting versus in-house hosting to help you make an informed decision about what’s best for your business.

Cloud hosting

Pros

  • Easily scalable, can be added to as and when needed to help accommodate fluctuating demand or business growth.
  • Employees can connect from anywhere at any time using their computers, mobile devices and tablets.
    Your data can be backed up as regularly as every 15 minutes. This minimises data loss in a disaster situation.
  • No need for on-site hardware or capital expenses, making Cloud computing a cost-effective solution and the solutions are on-demand so you only pay for the options you want.

Cons

  • If the internet goes down on either your side or the provider’s side you will not have access to the software.
  • Third party cloud services could have access to your data, however it is very unlikely.

In-house

Pros

  • Keeps critical data in-house so only you have access to your data.
  • Your own choice of hardware, as well as the option to upgrade hardware when you want to.

Cons

  • The significant cost of the purchasing and maintaining hardware and high-speed internet required for the software to run efficiently.
  • The technical skills required to maintain the server and keep it up to date with the most recent technology.
  • The need for specialist security tools to keep the software and database secure.
  • More susceptible to data loss during disaster situations. How often you take the data off-site will reflect how much data you lose in those situations.
  • No uptime guarantees.
  • Cost of electricity, air conditioning e.t.c to keep the server running.
  • Upgrading hardware requires a long installation process.

With lower cost of ownership, built-in business security, access to features and functionality and a whole list of other benefits to your business, more and more modern businesses are switching to the cloud.

Words: Lauren Yaxley & Lewis Leeds

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