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What You Need to Know About Cloud Computing

August 15, 2019


"According to a recent IBM study, businesses plan to move 75% of their non-cloud applications to the cloud within three years."

New technology can be scary. Not Terminator scary (not yet, at least), but it has the power to completely transform the way we all do business.

The rate at which it’s changing and evolving can be overwhelming, and it won't stop anytime soon. Especially when it comes to cloud technology.

According to a recent IBM study, businesses plan to move 75% of their non-cloud applications to the cloud within three years.

So, what is cloud computing exactly?

In a Nutshell: What Is Cloud?

From storage to software, if you’re getting/using it over the Internet, it’s cloud computing. “Cloud” is the delivery of on-demand computing resources over the Internet.

When you take a picture on an iPhone, it gets backed up and stored in the cloud. When you stream a movie on Netflix or a song on Spotify, you’re accessing it from the cloud. Banking apps, social media, and even Fortnite all rely on cloud servers.

In professional settings, organizations often deploy their business systems in the cloud. Before, these systems were hosted on servers physically located at the business (“on premises”). But now, everything from enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, to inventory management applications, to point of sale software, and more runs in the cloud.

What It Can Do: Benefits of Cloud

Greater Innovation

Did we mention technology is changing quickly? Rather than racing to catch up, cloud allows you to compete at the forefront of your industry.

Because cloud deployments let you pay over time and as needed, the latest innovations are now just as accessible to smaller businesses as the larger enterprises.

Lower Total Cost

Cloud transforms your IT resources from a cost center to a profit center. Hosting software on premises racks up a huge amount of cost and risk—buying servers, powering them, maintaining them.

When you outsource that computing power to the cloud, someone else gets to deal with it, while you get to focus on growing your business through strategic initiatives.

Increased Flexibility

Also known as “scalability.” The cloud enables you to customize IT resources to your specific business needs—both now and in the future. Add users, increase bandwidth, boost storage capacity, and more. Whatever you want, whenever you want.

Being able to scale up or down ensures users always have what they need to be productive.

Improved Performance

Cloud providers regularly update server hardware to the latest and greatest. Plus, customers get the most up-to-date software delivered automatically.

Rest easy knowing that you always have the most powerful, current software available. You don’t have to burden IT staff with time-consuming updates and upgrades.

More Security

This is probably what keeps you up at night. Data hosted on premises is vulnerable to break-ins or even natural disasters. Without a proper backup, you could lose that data forever.

While it’s true that no data is 100% safe, data stored in the cloud is much more secure. Cloud providers continuously update their servers to combat the newest threats. Plus, your data is consistently backed up in separate servers, often thousands of miles apart.

How It Works: Different Types of Cloud

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Examples: Salesforce, Microsoft Office 365 apps, MailChimp, Kinetic (new name for Epicor ERP)

Most commonly used for: Out-of-the-box solutions

The most common type of cloud service, SaaS is software that users can access over the Internet.

SaaS may require a subscription fee to access the app from any compatible device over the Internet. Sometimes, you can even download the software directly to your computer.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Examples: Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Most commonly used for: Database management, development tools, operating systems

PaaS is a big one for developers. A PaaS business rents out its technology library.

You can use it for developing, testing, delivering, and managing software applications. No need to buy underlying hardware or software. Instead, you can focus on developing and managing apps.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Examples: Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud

Most commonly used for: servers, networking, storage, and more

IaaS companies rent out an entire IT infrastructure. You can pay to use theirs rather than hosting everything yourself. Servers, storage, networks, operating systems, you name it. All available on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Because this model is so broad, it also allows for the most flexibility and customization.

The Verdict: Cloud is the New Norm

Cloud computing continues to grow year over year. Moving your business systems to the cloud can be a large, overwhelming change. But there are definitely some obvious cloud computing benefits.

Cloud is a tool that empowers business owners. And it can be a foundational piece to any digital transformation journey. It’s worth it to evaluate your business to see if cloud is right for you.