Cloud computing is and has been a hot topic for some time now, but it's nothing new, so why all the fuss? Studies suggest that the majority of all data is inactive and unstructured, yet many businesses and organizations still pay to host all of their data onsite - an expensive, and potentially risky option.
Cloud computing is seen as a way of enabling businesses to do more for less; it frees up IT departments' time and significantly increases data security and accessibility, all for a lower cost than traditional onsite data management.
By outsourcing data management, IT departments are freed up, as they no longer have the laborious tasks of updating servers and dealing with associated data access issues. More time allows IT professionals to concentrate on innovation and driving their businesses forward. By utilizing cloud technology, even the biggest corporations can operate with only a handful of IT staff.
Cloud computing offers a number of associated cost benefits, including:
Equipment purchase - The costs associated with purchasing the equipment required to house and protect data can be eye-wateringly expensive, even for the largest of corporations. By utilizing a service provider's hosted virtual servers (or colocating your own physical servers in a service provider's data center) costs are significantly reduced.
Maintenance and upgrade - As well as the initial investment of onsite equipment, the ongoing management, and upgrade requirements present additional expense, as does the need for staff required to manage it. A cloud service provider will handle all the associated costs of upgrades, managing the environment and so on. Not only does this present a business with immediate savings, but it also allows for a much clearer budget certainty.
Budget certainty - With the service provider providing the infrastructure, a business will enjoy a low capital outlay and predictable monthly costs. Most services operate on a monthly plan, offering a company a flexible "pay-as-you-grow, save-if-you-shrink" model. This allows businesses to forecast technology costs clearly, much like other utilities, such as gas, water, and electricity. It also ensures that no money is wasted on excess technology or storage, which may be surplus to requirements.
Energy usage - By centralizing business systems and running applications on a virtual platform, huge power savings can be made. As fuel costs and carbon tax continue to escalate, there's no better time to embrace cloud computing.
While cost is undoubtedly a big draw to cloud computing, the most important aspect is security; all the savings in the world will never make up for a loss of data. According to the National Office for Statistics, 43% of businesses never re-open after a site loss, while 93% go out of business within five years. Being prepared to deal with disaster is essential, and a cloud hosting provider will have all the infrastructure resilience to avoid such scenarios.
As you can see, the cloud is flexible, scalable, cost-effective and frees up IT departments from time-consuming maintenance. Embracing cloud computing alleviates capital expenditure, reduces operational expenditure and provides businesses with clear budget predictability. With so many benefits, it's easy to see why so many businesses are taking to the cloud.