Although the trendy "cloud computing" term is relatively recent, the technology behind it has been in development for many years. Cloud computing originates from a gradual technological evolution that goes as far back as the 1950 -1960s with the introduction of mainframe computing and virtual machines (VM's). VM's can be described as the virtualization of a computer system that allows users to execute multiple operating systems within a single physical hardware platform. Does that sound familiar?
But what exactly is cloud computing?
In essence, for users, cloud computing represents the ability to go to an internet site through any device to access software, manage, store and process data from anywhere in the world.
For many people, two important questions immediately come to mind; “What are the advantages vs. disadvantages of cloud computing?" followed closely by, “Is my data secure on the web?”
What are the advantages of cloud computing?
- Shorter implementation time.
- High availability (up-time)
- Mobile & Anywhere productivity.
- Provider supplies off-site, consistent back ups across multiple locations.
- Lower total cost of ownership.
- No large upfront costs (Hardware, Data Servers, etc.)
- Monthly payments (Cash flow advantage)
- IT support supplied by provider
- Pay per Use
- Geographical expansion, scalable storage needs, additional users, etc.
What are the potential disadvantages of cloud computing?
- Limited control over the infrastructure.
- Good internet speed and bandwidth is a requirement.
- Software with limited flexibility (internally)
- Ongoing costs vs. upfront costs (debatable)
As you may have noticed, SECURITY appears as both an advantage as well as a disadvantage. Allow me clarify; since cloud services are provided via a web interface and the client has very minimal control over the infrastructure itself, the client is highly dependent on the provider’s security systems. For this reason, a good cloud service provider should have the following:
- Robust risk management policies
- Strong security infrastructure
- Comprehensive security policies
- Rigid authentication system
- Good reliability and trustworthiness
Fortunately, these platform providers and their underlying security is highly advanced and truth be told, the large majority of security breeches occur due to internal users as end-users are generally the easiest access point to your company’s data, intentionally or not.
For many companies, the benefits of cloud computing will greatly outweigh its disadvantages and eventually all companies will be using these systems as software providers scale back on developing their on-premise solutions. The cloud computing market is growing rapidly and will continue to grow and evolve in the upcoming years.
If you are interested in jumping on the cloud wagon or simply have a few questions, it would be my pleasure to introduce you to Sage's Cloud accounting & HR solutions (Sage Live and Sage People) and answer any other questions you may have.