08 May 2011

The shape of cloud computing

Cloud computing is really taking off in Australia, which isn’t surprising considering it has been one of the more interesting developments in the business technology space occurring in the last decade.

What is cloud computing? In simple terms, it’s a system of using the internet to provide software and other technology services. Traditionally, software might come in pack of CD ROMs, whereas cloud computing lets you download everything you require online.

Cloud computing’s storage ability is also worth a mention. The cloud allows storage of information in the virtual space, which means users can easily access files and share documents and projects, so teams can collaborate more efficiently.

It is also a good way of keeping business data secure, which means stolen laptops or lost memory sticks won’t affect business continuity. The cloud also backs files up so your organisation can get back to business-as-usual quickly if something should happen to the data.

There are some security challenges with cloud computing, so it’s best to know what you’re getting into. In general, look for a cloud provider who is reputable and who can explain how your data is protected. Also consider how readily you can transfer the data—whether back to a traditional model or another cloud provider—should your organisation decide to change its IT services.

Overall, it isn’t hard to see why using the cloud is a good thing. It’s virtually instantaneous, and users can access it from anywhere there’s an internet connection, which makes it suitable for staff on the move.

Cloud computing is also an area where growing businesses can benefit because it readily allows for expansion of IT capacity. If you’ve ever bought a software licence for one to nine users only to find a few months down the track that you need ten, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. As a scalable solution, it’s great for fast growth.

Another significant benefit is financial. The business doesn’t need to tie up capital by upfront investment in hardware and software, plus you can pretty much eliminate server costs and reduce maintenance expenses, which also makes cloud computing an eco-conscious choice.

But as with any technology, an organisation needs to identify its business requirements before jumping on any tech bandwagon. If you require a highly customised IT solution, cloud computing may not be the best option for your needs. However, cloud computing is a flexible and scalable solution, which means more and more organisations are finding it suitable for their requirements.