What is the Cloud and do I actually want some?
Cloud computing, made clear
With everything we all need to think about every day, keeping on top of tech, especially when it’s so impossibly fast-moving and fluid, can be a very tough gig. But everyone seems to agree ‘the cloud’ is the place to be. So what does that mean? And why are ‘they’ saying it?
First, here’s everything you were afraid to ask
What is ‘the Cloud’? Well, in a way, it’s just another name for the internet. It’s made up of all the computers (or, more correctly servers) that don’t live in your office but that you can access via an internet connection.
When you buy something from Amazon, book a train or do almost anything online, you send information from your phone, tablet or PC. But the ‘thing’, the actual purchase itself, happens on their servers which are on the internet, or in ‘the cloud’.
And because the internet is a very easy way to access stuff, the type of ‘services’ or ‘apps’ now available online go much further than traditional websites. As a business we can now do our accountancy online, manage a complex project, send emails to thousands of people or complete dozens of other tasks.
Collectively, these are known as ‘cloud apps’ or ‘cloud services’. And when people ask: ‘Are you using the Cloud?’ this is typically what they mean.
But why has it been adopted so quickly? And what are the benefits?
Making the case for cloud is easy
The Cloud is a major trend because it answers many of the problems that businesses face. Rather than having to install all the tech on our own machines, it all happens in big data centres.
We get access to the latest software, the worry of having to manage and maintain kit we don’t understand is taken away – and it all updates itself without us having to do anything. Bliss.
That means we always get the latest and greatest version of the services we use. No more remembering to buy and install new software, which then conflicts with something else. Which means there’s less need for you to hire in-house specialist expertise as you grow.
And if for any reason something goes wrong, it’s not your problem. No scratching your head while peering hopelessly at a screen past 10pm.
And the good bits don't stop here
Cloud services can be used wherever you are – often on any device. By you and your colleagues. At the same time. So we can all can work from wherever we’re most effective, whether that’s at home or on the road. And we can collaborate on projects regardless of where we are. That means increased flexibility, better productivity, and stronger communication. Which probably means better outcomes for your business.
There are also significant cost-saving benefits. For a start, it can eliminate upfront capital investment. Even the need for hard drives and fancy data storage systems are reduced. Instead you simply pay a monthly subscription for the cloud services you need. That’s it. Goodbye huge pots of capex.
But it keeps getting better
Smaller businesses get to access the same quality of tools as their much larger competitors. Most cloud providers want as many customers as possible. And have pricing plans to match.
What’s more, as cloud services are provided on a ‘Pay As You Go’ (PAYG) model, your business only pays for what it actually needs. Which means that there’s no more guesswork, no more fraught calculations, no unnecessary spending and no wasted resources. PAYG also delivers fantastic agility to your business - because you’re paying per user, per month for the services you’re actually using. And you can flex this up and down depending on how many people you have. A huge benefit, especially if you run a seasonal business.
So that’s why cloud is so du jour. Better tools that are almost hassle-free, more accessible and cost less money. Of course, not every cloud app is fabulous. But the general trend is entirely positive for business. And the economy as a whole.
Which is why most businesses do want - at least some - of their systems in the Cloud.