Cost is often the number one benefit espoused by cloud computing companies when looking to sell their services to businesses. This isn’t surprising given recent research which has highlighted the savings which companies, especially big ones, are losing out on by not being cloud-ready (e.g. the $250,000,000 cited by Rackspace® and LSE academics). There are many
However, there is a whole host of reasons why cloud computing brings advantages to firms of all sizes, as this article reveals. There are many advantages and disadvantages of cloud computing, but today we would like to talk about strong sides of Cloud Computing. So, what are the advantages of cloud computing?
The bottom line is the number one consideration of profitable businesses and the key selling point for cloud service providers. Cloud computing has revolutionized how businesses access IT services, infrastructure, and software by removing or reducing the need for capital investment (e.g. in multiple software licenses) and allowing companies to access what they need when they need it on a ‘pay as you go’ basis.
Due to features such as remote upgrades and support, the in-house IT department, if needed at all, require far fewer resources, saving companies even more money.
Power and Capacity
The cloud offers practically unlimited data storage and processing power. This is due to the pooling of computer resources such as geographically distributed servers. Whereas before, only the richest companies could afford to set up the necessary local computing infrastructure for large-scale data operations, any business can now tap into this potential by simply signing up to a cloud computing service.
Back Up and Recovery
Although local data backups are still advisable as a precaution (e.g. to mitigate for internet service loss), cloud backup offers an easier, less resource-intensive method to protect your data. Most cloud providers distribute backups between data centers in different countries to ensure reliable access at all times. Most also provide an effective data recovery service.
For many companies, integrating various locally controlled computer systems and apps can be a logistical headache and consume a lot of in-house IT resources. The cloud makes system integration much more manageable and, in some cases, automatic.
Change can also be a painful process for locally based IT networks, requiring considerable in-house development and testing – all of which has to be paid for. In some cases, companies are forced to carry on using a system that is not fit for the purpose simply because the costs to adapt it is prohibitive.
With cloud computing, software, platforms, and infrastructure can be changed and scaled up or down much more easily to meet operational needs.
With the heavy lifting performed by the cloud, employees of a company can normally access the applications they need remotely. Whereas in the pre-cloud age they might have needed to travel across town to access a company machine they can now usually login via a secure password from a laptop or even a mobile device!
Speed to Market
Many competitive industries rely on getting to market quickly before their competitors have a chance to catch up. The stakes have now been raised with the growth of cloud computing. For example, some cloud providers are delivering significant manufacturing IT solutions for their clients by allowing innovative products and services to be deployed and production scaled up in a matter of weeks rather than months.
Although many business owners are concerned about the security implications of cloud computing, a compliant cloud service provider is more likely to improve security. The economies of scale which apply to computer resources also ensure that the best security measures can be put in place with high-level oversight from IT security experts.
The most reputable cloud service providers are also committed to complying with data protection measures, particularly since the industry is moving towards shared liability between data processors and data controllers.
Given the large amounts of energy required to run the huge server farms and other hardware needed to power cloud computing, it may not seem to be that environmentally friendly. In actual fact, the centralization of resources leads to a net reduction in energy consumption while the smart management of resources leads to less wastage. Hardware also tends to be located close to energy plants, reducing transmission losses.
The environmental impact of computing can be driven down further by choosing companies with a renewable energy policy and encouraging cloud service providers to adopt ecological goals.
A Level Playing Field
For SMEs, a major advantage of the cloud is that it has enabled them to compete as equals with big businesses by accessing and developing software and systems that would have been too expensive in the past. Competition is now much more about innovation and market appeal and less about investment dollars.
With all of the advantages above, companies of all sizes are realizing that the question is not about whether they should be adopting cloud computing but about how they should do so.
To maximize the above benefits while minimizing exposure to non-compliance fines, most smart companies are going to look to do business with reputable cloud service providers – particularly those who are investing in the latest data protection measures.