The past 10 years have seen a shift of IT operations from in-house servers, software, and resources towards cloud technology. What’s more, this trend will only gather momentum over the next 10 years. The four key factors that drive this shift towards cloud computing include mobile connectivity, cost efficiency, shorter innovation cycles, and better data security.
So what is cloud computing? You can look at it as the outsourcing of hardware, software, data storage, and data processing. Users access applications and files by logging in from any device that has an internet connection. A network of secure data centers run by a third party store your data. Hence, this increases the processing power available and allows the sharing of data and between the users. Finally, it allows secure access from any location and on any device.
Cloud computing is the most efficient way of using computing resources. For a start, it removes investment in expensive hardware, license costs, and the human resources to maintain an in-house platform. Since cloud services are subscription-based — users only pay a monthly fee instead of buying licenses. The software and the hardware platforms are managed by a third-party provider who guarantees a 99.999% up-time. In addition, you get the dual benefits of an updated environment and unlimited computing power. Finally, with cloud computing, multiple users can access a program or file and work together in real-time from different locations.
Younger workers might find it hard to imagine that there was a time when employees could only access work files, messages, and systems from a terminal at the office that was connected to other computers in the network via physical cables. Besides, each computer required the manual installation of software.
Cloud computing has evolved the IT environment into a new landscape.
Cloud computing eliminates the problems of managing your in-house hardware and software platforms while providing flexibility, mobility, speed, and security. An experienced vendor like Renesent takes over these responsibilities. Besides, shared infrastructure is a utility wherein you only pay for what you use. Upgrades are automatic, and scaling up or down is easy.
Cloud-based apps have a shorter development time and they cost less to boot. Here are some reasons why cloud computing is a better alternative.
Businesses are running all kinds of apps and for many purposes in the cloud, like customer relationship management (CRM), human resources, accounting, and much more. Renesent is one of the leading pioneers in delivering cloud-based software.
In the early 1960s, a solution called remote job entry (RJE), allowed users to operate computers from remote locations. Hence, for the first time, a person did not have to be in the presence of the computer to operate it. Besides, it also allowed multiple users to simultaneously use the same machine.
In the mid-1960s, computer scientist J.C.R. Licklider developed the concept of a computer network. While working for ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency), he came up with the idea of an “Intergalactic Computer Network” that would allow multiple computers to communicate with each other.
Technological developments in the 1970s and 1980s saw the use of the cloud in different forms. Cloud computing was first used in 1996 in a business plan presentation by Compaq Computer Corporation.
The new cloud-based software did not have to be installed on every computer in a company’s inventory, besides it was also a much cheaper alternative.
Amazon developed a cloud-based application to manage its internal operations around the mid-2000s and offered the first cloud-based system for commercial use in 2006.
By the late 2000s, Google had released Google Docs, a cloud-based word processing software, as a free service. Google Sheets, Slides, and Forms soon followed.
The cloud continues to evolve, and Renesent continues to be a leader in the remote delivery of computing solutions for businesses.
Most consumers and businesses are already using the cloud, whether they realize it or not. If you stream music, shop online, have social media accounts, or use mobile banking, you’re using the cloud.
Entertainment — Movies and music are now accessed through cloud-based streaming services like Netflix or Spotify.
Social media — The cloud stores all your photos and comments that you post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social platforms.
Documents, spreadsheets, and slide presentations — Files are now commonly kept in the cloud (think of Google Docs and Dropbox), accessible from anywhere and recorded in real-time.
Mobile banking — Most major banks like Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America all rely on the cloud. Transactions are searchable, and statements are stored in the bank’s database, accessible on-demand, eliminating the need for paper files.
Customer relationship management — Customer relationship management (CRM) software enables businesses to personalize communications with customers. Intelligent software can send follow-ups such as cart abandonment emails.
Human resources and payroll — Cloud computing enhances human resources functions. Hence, businesses see an increase in productivity and lowering costs. Tasks like recruiting, onboarding, and employee data management are all more efficient.
Accounting — Cloud-based accounting applications do similar things as desktop accounting software, but they run on remote servers. The benefits include integration across departments so that all stakeholders have access to instantly updated figures and projections. Cloud accounting applications streamline data entry, eliminate redundancy, and reduce the chance of errors.
Inventory management and logistics — Ordering, stocking, selling, and delivering goods are much more efficient with cloud-based inventory management. Vendors, managers, and logistics coordinators can see inventory levels and know where products are in real-time.
Over the past two decades, cloud computing has become a staple in business and private life. As tech-savvy businesses can attest, there are many benefits of cloud computing. Among the most important benefits, cloud computing is:
Cloud computing centralizes information for fast and efficient storage and retrieval. Besides, the data is readily accessible to all stakeholders.
It allows for customization of programs and applications while allowing the owners control over the core code.
Cloud software provides the opportunity to provide personalized applications and platforms to multiple users at the same time.
Because third parties host the cloud systems, businesses and other users have greater assurance of reliability, and when there are problems, they have easy access to customer support.
With cloud software, it is easy to scale up your operations at a minimal cost.
Cloud computing can also guarantee a more secure environment, thanks to increased resources for security and the centralization of data.
Despite all of the benefits, some business owners are reluctant to move to the cloud because of misconceptions. Here are some common ones.
Misconception: The cloud is risky and untested.
✅Fact: The cloud is safer for your data than your computer. Security in the cloud is likely to be tighter than your existing system.
Misconception: It is difficult to use cloud services.
✅Fact: Cloud vendors design their interfaces to be intuitive and easy to use.
Misconception: The cloud is unreliable.
✅Fact: The cloud is more reliable than your computer, and most vendors guarantee a 99.99% up-time.
Misconception: Stormy weather can affect the cloud
✅Fact: The cloud is not an actual cloud, and it’s not located in the sky.
Misconception: Transitioning to the cloud is expensive and time-consuming.
✅Fact: Cloud vendors make data migration quick, easy, and cost-effective.
Misconception: Cloud services are an all-or-nothing proposition.
✅Fact: You choose what you use the cloud for.
Misconception: Cloud providers are at fault for most security breaches.
✅Fact: Keeping the cloud secured is a full-time endeavor for cloud vendors.
Misconception: Customers don’t trust businesses that use the cloud.
✅Fact: Customers already trust the cloud, as well as businesses that use the cloud.
Misconception: There is no customer service or support if something goes wrong.
✅Fact: Reliable cloud vendors like Renesent have 24×7 dedicated customer service teams ready to help.
Misconception: The cloud provider can see all of my data.
✅Fact: Cloud vendors isolate and encrypt your data so that only you can see it.
Misconception: The cloud gives you less control over your data and processes.
✅Fact: The cloud is flexible with a pay-as-you-go policy. It’s also accessible anywhere you have an internet connection.
When it comes to cloud computing, best practices for businesses start with screening potential vendors carefully. Your network is only as good as the providers you work with.
1. Choose cloud service providers wisely.
Reputation matters when choosing a provider. Top-notch cloud service providers have multiple data centers that are geographically dispersed. This provides defense against natural disasters and geopolitical turmoil.
2. Negotiate the terms of your service level agreement (SLA).
A cloud service level agreement is a contract, blueprint, and warranty all rolled into one. Take care to define key terms and define the roles and responsibilities of all parties. Your agreement should spell out:
3. Optimize your security.
Before entering into a relationship with a cloud service provider, it’s important to evaluate your current IT security controls and vulnerabilities. Then review the vendor’s security and data protection policies. Look for suppliers with certifications like ISO 27001, ISO 27017, DoD IL4, HIPAA, and the UK’s Cyber Essentials. Renesent has all of these accreditations and many more.
4. Protect your data.
Ensure the classification of your data based on sensitivity and restrict access accordingly. Handle tiers of data based on how much risk unauthorized disclosure would present to the company and affected users.
5. Monitor your cloud services rigorously.
It is important to monitor your cloud services rigorously. Most problems are much easier to solve if caught early. Unusual spikes in activity can alert you to security threats.