Not If, But When: Is Your Company Cloud Computing Yet?

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The shift to cloud computing continues to grow, and business leaders who ignore this shift risk being left behind in its wake.

Cloud computing refers to spreading various data, files and other digital aspects of a business or organization across the Internet. It uses a network of Web servers (instead of a local server) to manage all of a company’s digital resources, files and data, and it enables employees to access and share data from anywhere in the world.

It’s big business, too: A 2012 IDC report projected cloud computing will generate 14 million jobs by 2015, and the information technology research firm Gartner estimated the cloud services market will be worth a whopping $150 billion by 2014.

Benefits of the Cloud

The executives surveyed by IDC reported increased productivity between business units, costs savings and an increased ability to move toward a infrastructure-based technology. Cloud computing is also a key resource for document and information storage and backup.

Cloud solutions for business give IT professionals the scalability they need to expand a business’s server structure with the ease of a few mouse clicks and password controls. Businesses can use this server adaptability and flexibility to monitor strategies, campaign roll-outs and more. Cloud computing can dramatically increase the IT capabilities for all companies.

cloud computing

Providers and Infrastructure

Cloud systems are based on three types of infrastructure: Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS).

IaaS allows clients to have an access to a virtual service in the service providers data area. The user/client/customer has the ability to install his own software, maintain that software and move it forward as necessary. Working in IaaS is extremely flexible and information can be used easily, even during times of high volume.

Companies working in IaaS can allocate additional servers on the cloud system. One good example is Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud, where users can rent out a virtual server to run an application. According to Amazon’s EC2 site, the program “reduces the time required to obtain and boot new server instances to minutes, allowing you to quickly scale capacity, both up and down, as your computing requirements change.” Again, flexibility and scalability are key.

PaaS gives companies the option to run an application server and utilize a variety of management and deployment tools on top of it. It’s all about the platform, according to InfoWorld, with infrastructure handling and higher-level runtime as part of the platform services. Companies can also tap into a marketplace of other services like databases and log management.

SaaS provides businesses with a single application with a multiplied style of architecture. It means no upfront investments and easy maintenance, due to lower provider costs. SaaS is common for many HR apps.

Collab in the Cloud

A recent survey by the Association for Information and Image Management found that businesses are finding benefits in moving content to the cloud, especially in the area of collaboration. Sixty-eight percent agreed that better communication between remote business locations would result by putting content in the cloud; 64 percent said it would enable closer communication and collaboration with customers.

Data and privacy

One concern for many businesses making the switch to the cloud is the issue of security and privacy protection. Businesses can choose a private cloud, infrastructure that’s unique and created for a single organization. This allows restricted access to whatever level is being used by the business. For instance, many CIO’s think that cloud usage may cause them to relinquish the control of their domains. But this assumption is incorrect, as cloud computing is showing itself to be the most comprehensive data storage center that offers good controls to participating companies and organizations.

What’s Next?

Many point to 2013 as the year the cloud becomes invisible. Cloud computing will be so widespread, discussion won’t be centered on its value as much as what you’re doing in it. Even today, leaders are finding it’s not so much if you’ll move to the cloud, but when (if you haven’t already). As such, use of the term “cloud” should diminish.

More businesses are bringing their data, files and infrastructure to the cloud, and it’s changing the way businesses are run today.

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