Most offices had only few desktop computers during the early '80s, so when businesses needed their payroll or sales figures calculated quickly, they outsourced these tasks to a vendor equipped with the technology. Nowadays, companies like Complete Technology offer applications like that via "the cloud" so businesses don't have to worry about buying and acquiring licenses themselves.
What is the cloud and how does it work? In essence, cloud computing refers to accessing data and software apps over the internet instead of having to store them on your workstation's hard drive. That means you won't own outright the infrastructure needed to run your operations; instead, you'll rent it from a third-party vendor.
Basic examples of cloud computing
Most people don't realize that they've been using cloud computing ever since the internet was invented. If you open a web browser and type a keyword into a search engine, your keyword travels through the World Wide Web into a network of computers designed to answer queries, and then voila! -- you get your answer within seconds.
And then there's email. Before Gmail and Outlook ruled, you could only send and receive messages through applications that were installed on your workstation. But thanks to browser-based email applications, emails are processed and stored in a remote server that you can still access through a web browser at any place with an internet connection.
Another great example of modern cloud computing is the ability to create and edit shared documents online. All you have to do is sign up for a service like Google Docs and you can work on presentations, spreadsheets, or any other kind of document that will be saved in a cloud-based server. So instead of installing an app like Microsoft Word on your computer locally, you'll be using web-based software that allows access from any device, even if it doesn't have any software installed.
What makes cloud computing so popular?
It is an "on-demand" service
Cloud solutions are normally purchased on a subscription or "pay-as-you-go" basis, and they're available whenever needed. You'll sign up for these services just as you would for internet access, telephone services or electricity from a vendor.
It is managed
Another thing that makes cloud computing an office favorite is the fact that the services are provided by a third party that manages everything for you. For instance, with Google Docs you won't have to worry about purchasing licenses, keeping the software updated, backing up your files, or protecting them from malware. Google will handle all of this for you.
What types of cloud computing are there?
Different types of cloud computing provide different services, and which ones you choose will just depend on your business's needs.
- PaaS (Platform as a Service) allows businesses to develop a website about ecommerce, for example, but host the shopping cart, checkout, and payment functions on their cloud provider's server.
- SaaS (Software as a Service) refers to using an entire program that is running on another computer. Google Docs and web-based email solutions like Outlook are the best-known examples.
- IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) refers to renting access to data storage or a server. This is normally referred to as "utility computing" since you will pay-as-you-go, just as you would pay for your utilities. An example of IaaS is web hosting, whereby you pay for a monthly subscription to have your company's website kept online by another company.
What can we expect from cloud computing in the future?
Most small businesses are still just getting their feet wet and deciding which programs they should migrate to the cloud. But usage is sure to increase as businesses become more comfortable about their data being stored in a server that's off-site instead of in their office.
When your company partners with Complete Technology, it can concentrate on its business while we take care of your IT needs. Feel free to give us a call today and learn more!