Cloud computing has been something of a phenomenon – today it is everywhere and we use it a lot, often without even realising that the platform or service we’re accessing is cloud based. At its most basic, cloud computing uses hardware and software to deliver services over the internet (or another network). It has many benefits but one of the reasons that it has become so popular is that files and applications can be accessed from anywhere, by any device, as long as you have access to the internet.
Cloud computing vs. traditional computing
The key difference between cloud computing and more traditional computing options comes from the storage of data. Before cloud computing arrived data was usually stored on an individual computer. As data sat on this single hard drive it was more difficult to access it other than for anyone sitting at that particular computer and also posed more potential problems with respect to back up and security. Cloud computing stores data on virtual servers, as well as physical servers. These are hosted by a third-party service provider and are access via the internet and protected from unauthorised use. Some of the services that are most commonly hosted in the cloud today include:
- Hosted desktop and email services
- Music streaming services
- Cloud storage services
Public, private or hybrid?
The cloud is a very versatile tool and comes in a number of different shapes and structures. Public cloud is often the most cost effective as computing services are shared among different customers. The data and applications that each user is running in the cloud are hidden from all the others but the basic services are shared, which can bring costs down. A private cloud is usually hosted on a dedicated server providing services that are only available to one specific user. Hybrid cloud provides the opportunity to combine elements of the public and private clouds to create a solution that is individually tailored to need.
Is there a security issue to consider?
Concerns about security used to be a major barrier to using cloud services. However, today if you opt for cloud services this may mean that your data and applications are actually more secure than they would be via traditional computing methods. Not only do cloud service providers invest in the most up to date protection for their infrastructure but back up can be far more sophisticated and effective than anything that more traditional computing methods can provide.
Why is cloud computing so popular?
Cost is one of the main reasons. There are many ways to save on costs by using cloud computing, including when it comes to reducing the investment required for equipment and avoiding costly deployment and maintenance costs. Increased security also minimises the potential for having to remedy an expensive security breach.
Cloud computing is widespread today and continues to grow in terms of the security, services and benefits that it has to offer. It has become a foundation of flexible, scalable computing that supports greater ongoing growth.