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Understanding the Cloud

This brief overview of the key terms and uses of the 'Cloud', will give you the confidence to branch out.

Cloud computing has been used back as far as the 1950s, generally known as ‘mainframe’ computers back then. These were housed in the same place as the ‘dumb terminals’ that used its power and information. Now we rely on a global network of servers which we call the ‘cloud’, even though all of the servers are still very much on the ground.

There are three types of cloud network that are easy to follow, ‘Private’, ‘Public’ and ‘Hybrid’. Private is a distinct and secure area for just one business where all company information is kept on a separate server. The main reason for having a private cloud is for security reasons however it is also useful when looking to develop and deploy new programmes a business may need. The Public cloud is hosted in multiple locations and stored on shared servers with other clients, however that doesn’t mean the other clients can access your data as it is still separate and secure. Hybrid is as the name suggests, it is a customised mixture of public and private as per the clients’ needs.

It seems with the cloud things come in threes. So if you prefer to that instead of buying you would rather rent the services there are three ways to do so.

  1. Software-as-a-Service or SaaS: This would be rented or subscribed to and in return you would have a programme that would always be up to date and have new features introduced regularly, for example payroll software like Sage.
  2. Platform-as-a-Service or PaaS: Again this would be a subscribed service which gives the business the tools, storage and assistance to develop and create their own programmes.
  3. Infrastructure-as-a-Service or IaaS: This is the hardware itself so renting just the servers to basically allow the business to set up and run their own cloud.

Now is definitely the time to get involved with cloud services to make the most of your business as the graph below shows. It would also benefit everyone to buy into a cloud set-up as the competition between providers will reduce the current prices. The graph below doesn’t even account for the SaaS market which is currently the biggest.

The growth potential in cloud services is predicted to double in just 3 years according to Goldman Sachs.

Even with these great figures the confidence level of business owners in the cloud is still less than half. As well as this Microsoft asked 250 senior managers about the cloud and a massive 70% of respondents said they do not use the cloud in their organisation. However it could be just that some of these managers aren’t aware that the cloud is part of our everyday lives now and probably are used in some capacity.

Either way hopefully this has helped shed some light on the cloud and show the silver lining that it has to offer to your business.


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