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What Is Cloud Computing? (Part 1 of 2)

In this 2-part post we cover:

• A simple definition of cloud computing

• 5 advantages of cloud computing for businesses

• A Real World Example: How Freshtemp leverages cloud computing for business (Part 2)

cloud computing (Photo credit: kei51)

Cloud Computing Definition

The term is used frequently today, but what exactly is cloud computing? One way to picture it is as a way of “outsourcing” the work of your computer to a large server somewhere else in the world. But why is this a good idea?

Here are a few advantages to cloud computing:

1. Less computing power needed on your local computer
2. Accessibility across multiple computers and devices
3. Redundant data storage
4. Easy software updates, scalability, and uniform version control
5. Safety From Malware, Viruses, and Data Theft

Let’s look at these benefits in more detail.

Less Computing Power Needed

Imagine your business requires important software to run. If that software is installed directly on your computer, it will require resources from your computer, such as hard-drive space, processing power, and short-term memory (RAM). For some applications, such as databases with thousands to millions of financial transactions, the computational resources are astronomical! At some point, it doesn’t make sense to continue to upgrade your personal computer just to keep up.

That’s where cloud computing comes in handy. Cloud computing takes advantage of today’s fast internet speeds to reduce resource consumption on your computer. A big, powerful server handles the computation while you control things through an internet connection without straining your computer!

Accessibility Across Multiple Computers and Devices

Okay, what about this: You get home and realize you need to access your critical work software from your home computer. Or, let’s say another colleague needs to use the software, but she’s visiting a client site in another country. The conventional way of handling this was to install a copy of the important software on every device, meaning in these cases, you would be out of luck.

But with the power of cloud computing, you have access to that software anywhere that you can obtain an internet connection, meaning at home or on the road, without previously installing the software.

Redundant Data Storage

Now, remember all those times you forgot to save and your last hour of work was lost? Or when your computer crashed and you hadn’t backed it up? Devastating, painful, and all too common.

With cloud computing, data is backed up across multiple machines, meaning that if one fails, there are safe copies on several other machines and you are in the clear.

Easy Software Updates, Scalability, and Uniform Version Control

Last example, so let’s say that awesome software you use just got a bit awesome-r with a new update. Well the conventional way of doing things means each computer must run the update, which may require special permissions and lengthy conversations with the IT guys. When you move to the cloud, you don’t have to worry about that, it’s all handled behind the scenes. The IT guy updates the software one time, in the cloud, and you carry about your business. This also means that everyone in your company is on the same page, no version control issues and no wasted time fiddling with software updates.

Safety From Malware, Viruses, and Data Theft

Many worry about the safety of Cloud Computing systems, especially with highly publicized events such as the hacking of Sony’s servers or the failure of Amazon cloud servers. But the reality is, these types of failures are highly publicized and just as infrequent. Major cloud computing providers have highly trained teams dedicated to the security of your data, so, while we haven’t seen any studies, we’d probably bet our money on them over the everyday personal computer owner.