In the Clouds or on the Ground?

ground-skyFor a while now, the buzz in the world of information technology has been ‘cloud computing’, however, there are still professional businesses and organisations that have, perhaps, not fully understood what cloud computing is about, and what the potential benefits and drawbacks might be. This is unfortunate, because in many cases, cloud computing can provide an efficient way forward for data-hungry office and business applications.

Cloud computing: What it is?

There are several characteristics that have been used to describe cloud computing, and in some cases the terminology may have muddied the water for understanding what ‘the cloud’ is about. Essentially, however, it is about the delivery of data resources over the internet. This includes software and data infrastructure solutions, as well as flexible data storage. Putting data into ‘the cloud’ means outsourcing the management of that data to a scalable, flexible computing service that does not require the user to have data technology expertise.

The Cloud is the way Ahead

There are several reasons why increasing numbers of organisations view cloud computing as the way ahead for their data needs. For many, it is the motivation of lower fixed costs with greater flexibility that is the key. Cloud computing makes it possible for companies, organisations, and individuals to pay only for the services that they use, without the overhead costs associated with in-house information technology resources. For others, the biggest benefit is being able to eliminate non-core activities such as information technology maintenance, and all the related hassle, and instead simply link to a data infrastructure that is accessed over the internet. The user does not need to be able to see what happens at the other end of the data connection, and that is why it is viewed as a ‘cloud’.

The Dilemma of the Cloud

Of course, not every organisation is immediately comfortable with trusting valuable data to an external and invisible computing infrastructure. When in the process of their enterprise resource planning, organisations can find it difficult or even bewildering when faced with the question of whether to put their data ‘in the cloud’ or simply go with a more traditional in-house computing solution. This is why the service providers of cloud computing go to great lengths to preserve the integrity and security of the data and applications that are entrusted to them. In addition, the aggregate size of the data needs of cloud computing mean that the providers can often reach and employ more and greater expertise than would be available to a smaller company managing its own data technology. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, data in the cloud is often more secure, from the point of view of both secure access and data back-up services, than data held on a series of servers and hard drives in a company’s office.

In the end, though, it is up to organisations to decide whether they want and need to pay for and maintain a whole internal information technology infrastructure, rather than a web connection to a resource that will take care of all of this on their behalf.

This article was contributed by Dave at the Publisher Network.

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