Cloud Technology: What is it and why does it matter to your business?
Vodafone Business Team
Have you heard the term ‘cloud computing’ thrown around but not fully understood what it means? If so, you’re probably not alone.
Cloud-delivered software and services have steadily grown in popularity in recent years and the term is widely used in business but if you’re not already up on the technology, you would be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is about.
However the likelihood is that you’re already using cloud technology even if you’re not aware that’s what it is. If you use Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter or any one of a hundred other apps to stay in touch with colleagues or friends, then you’re already using cloud services. Likewise apps like Google Drive or Dropbox for sharing files.
These apps – or business equivalents like Skype, Slack or Trello – typically work on smartphones or laptops but instead of storing data locally on the machines used for access, they send their data to central computers located in data centres around the world. This is effectively the cloud in action.
This is important because it means that all you need to use these services is an access device and all the heavy lifting in the form of processing and storage takes places elsewhere. The internet is used to connect the two.
For smaller businesses, one extremely useful consequence of this is that it’s now possible to rent software, processing power, storage and even entire IT systems remotely over the internet. Dubbed the as-a-service model, this allows you to purchase software, for example, as a service.
Instead of having to shell out on new machines, staff to maintain them and software licenses for the software, it’s possible to just pay as you go. Software-as-a-service has been joined by lots of other examples of this model.
Getting someone else to do the bits of your business that you don’t want to is not a new idea. In 2019, no company would bother to generate its own electricity or do its own waste disposal when it’s so much easier and cost effective to pay other companies to do it for them.
So why are information and communications technology any different? Unless tech is a core part of what you do, it can make more sense to outsource the provision and management of this than it does to do it yourself.
By doing this you can access a world of enthusiasm and expertise likely far in excess of that accessible within your own organisation. Specialist cloud providers make it their business to have access to the latest and most secure technologies for their clients.
It’s also common to hear the word cloud in a number of other contexts, such as hybrid cloud, public cloud and private cloud. These can be confusing if you’re not sure what they refer to.
The first and easiest to understand is public cloud, the term used to refer to cloud services available to anyone to use over the open internet. All that’s needed to access these services is a credit card and an internet connection.
By contrast, private cloud infrastructure refers to systems that use cloud mechanisms but are reserved solely for the use of one company. Typically only large companies can afford or need to use this kind of technology, often for reasons to do with security and regulatory compliance.
Hybrid cloud is the most common example of cloud deployment found in Ireland, as companies make use of a mix of legacy existing onsite technology together with public cloud and possibly also private cloud infrastructure in combination in order to meet their needs.