What is Cloud Computing?
One of the biggest leaps in technology recently has been the advent of ‘Cloud Computing’, and it is easy to get confused as to exactly what Cloud Computing is. Many people think they have to choose between Cloud Computing and ‘traditional’ computing, whereas the reality is there are many different types of Cloud Computing and a hybrid approach is often the best.
As an independent IT support and software development provider, sfG Software is ideally placed to advise on what form of Cloud Computing is right for you. Some of our clients use a very light form of Cloud Computing and have their email ‘on the cloud’. Others store documents on the cloud, while for many the traditional server approach is still most appropriate.
Put very simply, ‘Cloud Computing’ is where parts of your IT applications and data are stored away from your offices, ‘on the internet’ or ‘on the cloud’. But this doesn’t have to mean ‘all or nothing’. You might keep your business applications locally, while managing your email on the cloud, and perhaps also storing some data files on the cloud.
How can you decide?
The big advantage of implementing a form of cloud computing is that a lot of the management of your IT infrastructure is done remotely and you don’t need to worry so much about the physical hardware in your office. If you have many remote users then storing data on the cloud is very sensible, since it is easier and faster for remote users to access and they are less reliant on the physical office.
However, the downside of cloud computing is that you are totally dependent on your internet connection. If your office internet goes down then anything you have on the cloud is inaccessible from your office, which at worst might mean that your business stops. The most important question to ask is:
- What will be the impact on your business if your internet connection fails?
If you decide that Cloud Computing is right for some or all of your IT infrastructure, then the next question is who do you want to trust with your systems and your data. Some questions to consider are:
- How many copies are there of your data and systems? (i.e. if there’s a problem with one copy then is there a ‘spare’ copy that means your business will continue without you noticing?).
- How will you be affected if your cloud provider has a power failure or an internet outage, or a disaster such as a flood or a fire? It’s important that they store your data in multiple locations so they and you are unaffected if there is a problem at one of their sites.
- Does it matter where your cloud provider stores your data? Should you worry that it’s hundreds or even thousands of miles away? You could be forgiven for thinking that the speed of accessing your data is directly affected by the distance, whereas often it is actually faster getting data from half way across the world than it is from the neighbouring town! The important thing is that your data is stored in multiple locations.
How can we help?
sfG Software always advises clients to consider each part of their IT network separately, and decide on the most appropriate solution. For example, moving email to the cloud makes a lot of sense for many businesses, but very few businesses will want to take the risk of moving their entire server and desktop infrastructure onto the cloud unless they have 100% confidence in their internet connection. Keeping your office applications like Word and Excel locally means that at least you will be able to continue writing documents when your internet goes down. If you have moved your office applications to the cloud then your entire business is dependent on your internet connection.
We can discuss with you how we have implemented different forms of cloud computing with some of our clients and what might be appropriate for you. For example, one of our clients has a mixture of local and remote users and a very slow broadband connection. We have implemented a hybrid approach where the files used most often by their local users are stored locally, and the files used most often by their remote users are stored on the cloud. As a result, all users have quick access to most of their files all of the time.
As with most things, the best approach is normally a combination of different solutions. sfG Software can help you understand if and how Cloud Computing might benefit your business and will work with you to implement the most appropriate solution.
If you are a business based in Inverness, the Highlands or beyond, see what our local and regional IT Support and Software Development customers in your area are saying about us on our Testimonials page or contact us for advice on Cloud Computing or on any of our other services.