There's a buzzword in computing these days – one that, unless you've been living in a cave the last few years, you'll have no doubt heard bandied around by the tech community. Cloud technology is being heralded as the next big thing in computing circles – and for a good reason, when you consider its potential implications.
As the internet goes increasingly mobile – and our connection speeds continue to improve – cloud computing promises an exciting new world of remote storage and processing, driven by powerful servers strategically positioned around the world.
What is the cloud, and how does it work?
In essence, the 'cloud' could realistically be argued as just being an enhanced form of the internet. Cloud services typically encompass storing and accessing programs and data supplied by remote computers over the web rather than being stored locally on your device's Hard Disk Drive (HDD).
In truth, there's nothing particularly new about this idea – web admins have been doing it for years with their websites and apps – but the crucial difference in recent years has been the scope and sophistication of the server technology involved coupled with the vastly superior connection speeds offered by 4G and 5G communication networks. Throw into that mix the seemingly never-ending complexity and capacity of modern mobile tech, and it's clear to see why cloud technology has become so popular.
Empowering devices and making the workforce truly mobile
There are many advantages to moving your IT services to the cloud (which we'll cover a little later), but one of the greatest benefits is the ability to rely on remote machines' considerable processing power. Our devices are becoming smaller and smaller – yet the demands we place on our tech continue to increase. Integrating with cloud services allows even the lowest-powered handheld device to perform extremely complex tasks by tapping into cloud processing services. This remote tech removes our devices' burden while avoiding the potential sacrifices in power typically suffered by smaller units. Moreover, cloud services allow for a truly mobile workforce, allowing staff to access files and services on the move, unfettered by fixed-line connections or Local Area Networks (LANs).
The unrivaled benefits of integrating with cloud tech
Not so very long ago, if a company wanted to integrate IT services into their operations, they had to set up costly internal networks and, in most cases, employ dedicated staff to maintain and run their operations. Cloud-based tech has transformed IT, and these days specialist companies can take over all your networking capabilities. The benefits of using the cloud include:
Always staying up to date with the latest tech: It's in a cloud company's interests to ensure it offers its clients the very latest and greatest technology – after all, cloud service provision is one of the fastest-growing areas of computing, and competition is fierce. By outsourcing your IT requirements, you'll be assured of having access to the fastest, most capacious server technology – while also not having to worry about your in-house provision. Setting up a network is a highly complex (not to mention expensive) process and staying on top of changing tech was a constant headache for companies in the past. Partnering with a cloud service company means your firm can concentrate on doing what it does best – without having to stress about its IT services.
Considerable cost savings: As mentioned above, IT servers and networking technology don't come cheap, and firms frequently found themselves fighting a losing battle of constant upgrades, maintenance fees, or full replacements. With a cloud service provider, these costs are replaced with a simple monthly subscription fee based on the tech you actually use rather than you having to predict requirements.
A scalable solution, bespoke to your needs: No company stands still, and your IT requirements will likely change over time. For example, if you expand into new markets or employ additional staff, you will likely need to increase your processing provision. Another common example is the need for increased storage – say, if you use Data Asset Management (DAM) software to look after your marketing resources as described in this article. As your library of resources grows, you will likely need to increase your storage space to accommodate the extra files. Likewise, a market downturn might find you want to scale back services or downgrade performance. In the past, with in-house IT provision, both tasks often proved difficult (if not impossible in some cases). However, with a cloud provider, changes to service are as simple as actioning a quick change in your back-end management panel or sending a request to your support department.
Most cloud providers use agnostic equipment: Most companies have their own preference in terms of the Operating System (OS) or software they use – including those written in different programming languages. Most cloud providers supply fully agnostic technology, meaning you can install the software or services you use most without fear of software conflicts or other related problems.
Increased peace of mind offered by bulletproof security services: While no IT service is 100% secure, having a dedicated team monitoring your network 24/7/365 will give you unrivaled peace of mind that your files are safe from malicious attack. Professional IT firms go to great lengths to protect their clients' data from unwarranted access – in most cases, predicting and isolating problems before they've even occurred. As extra security, IT companies regularly back up data so that, should the worst happen, you'll have a recent fallback copy to rely on.
Round-the-clock support: It's an unfortunate truth that cybercrime is a growing issue, with around 75% of US companies reporting they'd been the victim of an attack through 2019. While your cloud provider will do everything in their power to protect you, should you find a hacker does make it through and manages to gain access to your network, it's good to know support is just a phone call away. In most cases, cloud providers have an hour-or-less support time policy available around the clock. The majority have systems in place to alert them without you even needing to call. Corporate data is one of your company's most valuable resources (if not the most valuable), so this isn't an area where you should take chances. Having support on-tap is vital to protect you, your company, and your clients.