What is cloud computing and how does it work?

The cloud is really another name for the internet and if you use the cloud to store photos or documents, such as Drop Box or Google Drive, then you are already using the cloud. In fact, if you use Gmail you are also making use of the cloud – this means that many Australians already use the cloud in their daily lives, although they might not realise it.

How does cloud computing work?

Cloud computing is where you store your data or files on the cloud and you also access software and applications, which are not stored on your own hard drive or an in-house server. Cloud service providers have “server farms”, which can be located anywhere in the world and provide instant access, via the internet, to all of their customers.

Cloud computing works because it makes you location independent, gives you unlimited storage capacity, is easy to setup, gives you automatic software updates and is very cost effective.

 

  • Location independent: With cloud computing, you can access your data and software anywhere in the world. So you can leave the office and have a lunchtime meeting in a local restaurant and access your excel presentation or any of your files on your tablet or smartphone.
  • Unlimited storage capacity: You don’t have to worry about the storage capacity of your hard drive or server and you can forget about losing those USB drives. With the cloud you have an unlimited storage capacity, which can expand as your business grows.
  • Easy to setup: Most service providers will walk you through the setup process, but essentially all you need to do is to choose a password and the software or applications you need. Then you are ready to continue working – it is that simple.
  • Automatic software updates: You don’t have to worry about updating your software on time or having your IT employees spend endless hours updating and integrating everyone’s software. The service provider will ensure that all of the software is updated as necessary and you just keep working. This saves you a lot of time and money you would otherwise have spent on these updates.
  • Cost effective: Many start-up businesses head straight to the cloud, because it is so cost effective. No longer do businesses need a huge capital outlay on hardware, servers and software. All of your computing needs are accessible via the internet. Of course, you still need to purchase computers or mobile devices that connect to the internet, but once you have done that – you are good to go.

The main reason that businesses use cloud computing is because it is so affordable, allowing them to reallocate their budget to other important aspects of their business. Of course, you need to make sure that the provider has data encryption and top level security protocols in place as well, so that your data is stored safely on their servers.

Also make sure that they have firewalls, malware and virus checkers, as well as a complete disaster recovery plan, in case their servers go down. It also pays to ask them about their downtime and uptime, as a reliable provider should have at least a 99% uptime. With all of this information to hand, you should have no problem finding the right cloud computing provider for your requirements.

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