It’s time to finally understand The Cloud.
The term is everywhere nowadays – cloud computing, cloud storage, cloud backups – but most people balk if you ask them what exactly it is.
It’s actually simpler than you think. It’s not some mystical fog that sits on top of your computer that magically has all your pictures, nor is it an excruciatingly complex piece of technology that you need a degree to understand. The cloud, or cloud computing, is just a name for the storing and accessing of data, applications, or systems on the Internet and not on a physical piece of hardware.
So if you take a photo and save to, let’s say, Dropbox or Google Drive, that photo now exists on the cloud. It’s saved to a platform that is fully hosted on the internet and because it’s not tied down to a physical server, can be retrieved any place you have internet access.
It’s been a game-changer for the way we treat technology and run businesses, mainly because it’s opened up so many more opportunities for cloud application creators and users alike. Here are some of its greatest benefits:
Because cloud-based systems are not physically owned, but rather used as an internet service, prices tend to be exponentially lower. So instead of purchasing an expensive system, you’re just using it through the cloud. You also get away without having to purchase equipment and hardware.
Beware, though. As cloud services become more and more popular, some companies have found ways to make just as much money (if not more) using cloud technology. While a monthly fee to a service will always be cheaper than buying a complete system upfront, those fees can easily rack up. Especially when it’s a system that you’ll be using long term, do proper research about long term costs.
(If you want to read more about SaaS, or software as a service, check out my previous blog post where I go into detail about the pros and cons.)
- Flexibility and Access
Important to both individuals and businesses, being able to access your work wherever and whenever if personally my favorite part of using the cloud. I can access my data at home, at work, at any computer I find if I’m away on vacation – it’s saved me so much time and prevented so many headaches.
- Business Continuity
This is probably the least thought about benefit, but probably the most important for businesses. Storing everything on physical servers means everything is susceptible to physical dangers like natural disasters, flooding, electrical issues, and the like. Hopefully you’ll never have to deal with it. Backing up your data to the cloud means that in the event of a crisis, your data is safe, saving you from data disaster.