Understanding The Cloud

In the modern computing world, it’s difficult to talk about IT without the term ‘the cloud’ coming up at least once. It’s become a commonplace term, something people are just expected to know about. Many of us have welcomed the cloud into our lives, with our mobile phones and computers set to automatically backup to our personal cloud. But unless you speak techie, how are you supposed to know what the cloud is, or how it works? Simple – ask the experts. 

What Is The Cloud? 

In traditional ‘local’ computing, all of your data and programmes are stored on your local network storage – either your machines or your servers. But if you are using cloud computing, your data is stored in the same way, but on a completely separate system elsewhere. You can still access your programmes and data at any time using the Internet, which means you can make the most of your physical computer’s speed and keep your data safe in case something goes wrong. The actual word ‘cloud’ is just the generic name we have given internet storage. The industry chose that term because back in the days of flowcharts and presentations, the internet would always be represented as a puffy white cloud full of possibilities. So whenever you think of the cloud, think of it as a big virtual space that can be used to connect users, store data and share information.

How Does It Work?

So that’s all very interesting, but how does the cloud actually work?

The first thing to make clear is that cloud computing is not about your individual storage. If you are storing data on your machine or even on a local home or office network, you are not utilising cloud computing. This is instead known as ‘local’ computing, which is how businesses and households functioned for decades before the cloud came along. There are still many businesses who prefer local storage to keep everything in house and secure, but the reality is you don’t need to any more.

To use cloud computing, you simply need to be accessing your data and storage via the internet instead of your local hard drive. For individuals this might mean using Google Drive, Amazon Drive, iCloud or Dropbox – services designed to provide you with off-site storage and secure backups for a small price. But if you’re a business, you have a few more options open to you, all designed to help ease your IT costs and concerns. There are many different levels of cloud computing offered by IT companies like us for your business. You can opt for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), which means you pay a monthly subscription to use someone else’s hardware instead of having to buy your own. There is also Platform as a Service (PaaS) which allows bigger businesses to develop their own web based software, apps and tools on someone else’s servers. The final popular option is Software as a Service (SaaS), which lets you use all of your software while it is hosted and runs on someone else’s system. The best known example of this is Google Docs, which allows you to view, edit, share and collaborate on documents and workflows within the Google ecosystem.

A photo by Galymzhan Abdugalimov. unsplash.com/photos/ICW6QYOcdlgSo Why Should Businesses Use It? 

Cloud computing is somewhat of a revelation for businesses, as it allows them to spread the cost and the risk of their computing resources. It provides an automatic option for disaster recovery, as your data isn’t in the same physical place as your office, so if something happens to your office you can still access your data. It also allows businesses to decrease their spend on IT overall. Instead of buying their own hardware and servers, along with hiring people to maintain and manage them, they can simply rent all of it at a fraction of the price. Cloud computing solutions also allow businesses to be more mobile, as staff can access their data from any device, anywhere using their passwords. It makes creating new workspaces cheaper, as these can be virtual deployments on a basic screen and ‘internet box’ computer instead of an expensive machine. Businesses can also be confident that their systems and software will always be up to date, with the latest security patches installed if they are using a managed IT service.

At Indigo IT we provide cloud hosting services to hundreds of businesses of all shapes and sizes across the UK. No matter what your needs or experience, we can help you understand the cloud and what it means for your business. If you aren’t confident or don’t have the time to handle your business IT needs, look no further than Indigo IT. For more information, get in touch with one of our advisors today.