Overview: Why Cloud Computing?
Have you ever wondered what the advantages of cloud computing might be for your business? Are you concerned about the possible disadvantages of cloud computing? In this article, we’ll give you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the pros and cons of cloud computing to help you get the most out of cloud computing solutions.
With so much information available, it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. At Advisory HQ, we’ve done the research so you don’t have to. You’ll find out everything you need to know to get the most out of cloud technology, no matter which cloud provider you use.
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What Is Cloud Computing?
Did you know that more than half a million businesses in the United States use the cloud ever day? You’ve heard the phrase before, but what exactly is it?
Generally speaking, cloud computing is defined as Internet-based computing. It’s the term for accessing software and hardware that resides on machines other than yours by way of a network, usually over the Internet.
It refers to using software or hardware stored someplace other than on your personal computer’s hard drive. A good example of this is Gmail or Google docs. You access them from your computer, but they aren’t physically on your machine; they remain remote. You use them via the Internet, and that is one reason why cloud computing is so popular.
What Are the Advantages of Cloud Computing?
There are numerous cloud computing advantages for both end users and businesses of all sizes, whether for one person or one thousand. One of the more important advantages of cloud computing is that you don’t have to build or maintain the software, hardware, environment or applications. When you use cloud computing solutions, everything is taken care of by other people, in other places – in the cloud.
Let’s Take a Look at Some of the Key Benefits of Cloud Computing
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There are many ways that cloud technology can help businesses. How much something costs typically tops any list. So, let’s start there.
Another one of the advantages of cloud computing is cost. No one wants to spend money if they don’t have to. If you’re a business, spending money you don’t have to spend can have a detrimental effect on your overall bottom line.
By using software or servers over the Internet, you no longer need to shell out huge amounts of money for stand-alone servers or software. By taking advantage of cloud computing’s online accessibility, individuals and businesses can also reduce the cost of licensing fees. And you won’t have the additional data storage-associated expenses, such as:
- Power usage
- Administration costs
- Air conditioning
The cloud offers cheaper rates than more traditional methods (such as on-site data storage), reducing your overall IT expenses. By providing scalable charging models (such as pay as you go), it’s easy to see why the future of cloud computing is very promising for both individuals and businesses all over the world.
Another one of the popular advantages of cloud computing is its convenience; as an end user, you can access services no matter where you are located. So many companies have employees scattered across multiple geographic locations and time zones. Due to the cloud computing advantages, such as remote access, team members can collaborate, share documents, files, and ideas, regardless of where they are or what time it is. This also means that companies have a greater opportunity to acquire top-notch talent from anywhere on the globe.
In the majority of situations, service uptime is guaranteed in a “service level agreement,” and that may be one of the most significant benefits of cloud computing. Cloud vendors regularly use multiple servers for maximum redundancy. So, in the rare event of a technical failure, alternate servers automatically step in to take control and continue providing end users with their guaranteed uptime. Cloud providers typically ensure reliability 24-7-365, with an overall service availability of 99.99%.
That mean’s they’re ready to work whenever, wherever you are.
Disaster Recovery and Backup
We all know how important recovery and backup is, and thanks to the cloud, it has become so much simpler. Since data now resides on the cloud (not on a physical machine), it is easier than ever to back up your information with any of the assorted cloud computing solutions offered by your vendor.
Many cloud providers offer comprehensive disaster recovery and backup capabilities. In fact, many companies and individuals use the cloud itself, solely as a backup for data on a physical computer!
Good for the Environment
One of the lesser realized benefits of cloud computing is its minimal impact on our environment. Overall, cloud computing is more efficient than traditional IT infrastructure; it requires fewer resources to complete assigned tasks.
In other words, when a server is not in use, it scales down. That not only frees up resources, it also consumes less power. At any given moment, the cloud is using only the resources it legitimately needs and nothing more.
One of the built-in advantages of cloud computing is the scalability feature. Cloud upgrades or increases are implemented only when needed, automatically. That means you only pay for data storage or applications you actually need. There’s no bundling, forcing you to purchase items you either don’t want or don’t need.
Cloud computing solutions can be scaled precisely to meet your continually changing IT demands. Businesses or individuals can instantly purchase and add-on software or other items to improve their day-to-day operations. And your personal dashboard will also have access to additional tools.
The time required for IT procurement and implementation is practically non-existent when you use cloud computing solutions. That means you can start tackling an issue while you competitors are still exploring their options. With minimal provisioning time and zero upfront costs, working with cloud-based technologies allows you to focus on your main business objectives.
Another of the benefits of cloud computing is rapid deployment. Opt in for this method, and your complete system will be fully operational within a matter of minutes. The exact time will depend on the specific technologies you will be using. Time is money, so spend yours wisely.
Greater Storage Capacity
The cloud has a larger, nearly unlimited storage capacity compared to your personal or business computer. Gone are the days when you need to worry about running out of data storage space. Not having to upgrade computer hardware just to increase storage capacity is one of the valued benefits of cloud storage.
Your Location, Your Device
The future of cloud computing is strong, thanks to benefits like this one. Cloud computing solutions are accessible by virtually any device that has Internet connectivity. Smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, etc. can all access the cloud with the same ease as more traditional devices such as PCs and laptops.
You can also decide the location from which you work. Whether at a conventional on-site office, your home or a favorite coffee shop, the increased device diversity, paired with location independence, is a favorite on a long list of advantages of cloud computing.
To make sure you are in the position to take advantage of all that the cloud has to offer, you need to know the pros and cons of cloud computing. We’ve looked at the advantages above, now let’s continue our analysis of cloud computing pros and cons by checking out some of the risks of cloud computing.
What Are the Disadvantages of Cloud Computing?
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As with any tool or device we use, there are always limits to even the best designs. In the section below, we’ll go over the most talked about inefficiencies when using cloud computing solutions for your business or personal use.
Many people are concerned about cloud computing security risks for end users.
By using a cloud-based infrastructure, a company is essentially handing over its private information and data – sometimes sensitive and confidential – to a third party. It is the responsibility of the cloud provider to protect, manage, and retain that data. Having a reliable and reputable cloud provider is critical.
In the same vein, many individual end users feel uncomfortable putting their information into the hands of a third-party administrator.
Cloud service providers typically implement the highest security standards. Many providers who offer cloud computing solutions carry industry-respected certifications. However, the fact remains, third-party data storage always comes with some risks, and cloud computing security risks are no different.
For example, imagine that you are part of a multi-tenant cloud structure that has several users hosted on one particular server. In that situation, a hacker may attempt to break into other users’ information and data from their “location.”
While such instances can occur, their likelihood is not great. So, while the risks of cloud computing should be considered carefully, the overall risks are not that significant. (The 2016 State of the Cloud Survey reported that security is no longer the top concern for users.)
While we’re talking about security, it’s good to keep in mind that the Internet itself carries with it some inherent disadvantages that can spill over into end users in the cloud:
- Internet-dependent: Being Internet-dependent is not really one of the disadvantages of cloud computing, but it can be when the Internet is not accessible. If you find yourself in a location without Internet access, you won’t be able to access your data or files.
- Greater Vulnerability: The Internet brings many things, including greater vulnerability for those who use it on a daily basis. Cloud computing solutions have greater exposure on the public information highway. Increased exposure brings increased vulnerability when it comes to things like malware or hacker attacks. Despite best efforts, nothing on the Internet is ever 100% secure.
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One of the main disadvantages of cloud computing is what the industry calls “vendor lock-in.” All cloud vendors promise flexibility to integrate or migrate. The reality, however, can be entirely different. Once you’ve signed on with a particular vendor, it can be difficult and sometimes even impossible to switch to a different provider.
Transferring large quantities of data from one cloud provider to another can be a serious challenge. Integration and hosting of current cloud applications on a different platform could potentially create incompatibilities and support issues.
One example is Microsoft and Linux. Applications that have been developed using Microsoft Development Framework (.Net) may not be compatible or work properly on a Linux platform.
Downtime and Technical Difficulties
Companies or individual end users will likely enjoy not having to deal with the day-to-day technical issues that are now being handled in the cloud. However, even the best cloud computing solutions can still have bumps in the road. Downtime and service outages are possible with even the most diligent cloud provider.
Unfortunately, you will not be your cloud service provider’s only client. As it deals with an increasing number of customers each day, the potential for it to become overwhelmed can happen. It may experience its own technical difficulties which, in turn, will mean downtime for you.
If you have limited or low bandwidth, you won’t be able to fully utilize the benefits of cloud computing. Additionally, even if you do have higher bandwidth, poor satellite connection can lead to inferior performance as a result of high latency.
The cloud infrastructure is entirely owned, monitored, and managed by your cloud service provider, who, in turn, transfers some control(s) over to you, its customer. But even then, you are given only certain, specific options.
As a client, you can manage and control applications, services, and data but not back-end infrastructure. Things like firmware management or server shell access, typical fundamental administrative tasks, may not be passed on to the end user, or customer.
Some good questions to ask yourself to find out how cloud computing solutions could help you or your business are:
- How much money will I save?
- How much extra would in-house software cost?
- How much extra would on-site data storage cost?
- Is my cloud provider certified? Does it offer top-of-the-line security?
- How much downtime do I currently have per month?
- What would the average cloud downtime be (ask your cloud provider for its monthly downtime rates) in comparison?
Technology, by its very nature, is always evolving; it’s always changing. Due to that, you’ll want to keep an eye on things, even if you’re not ready for the cloud just yet. What may be a deal breaker for you today may no longer be an issue in three months time.
Cloud tools are continually developed and updated, so if you find yourself a little hesitant to start working on the cloud today, don’t let it bog you down. It’s not an all-or-nothing situation. The solution to that business problem you've been tackling may be just around the corner! You may find yourself in the cloud sooner than you think.
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We hope our big list of cloud computing pros and cons has answered most of your questions. While it’s true there are disadvantages of cloud computing, the benefits of cloud computing significantly outnumber its shortcomings.
Cloud computing is still young, and its future is very promising. With a user base growth that shows no signs of stopping anytime soon, more and more people are attracted to cloud computing solutions. Successful IT management can be a challenge at the best of times, but thanks to the cloud, it just became a whole lot easier.
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