What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud Computing Definition
Everyone these days is talking about the cloud – from computer geeks, to large corporations and European government agencies. Not everyone though knows what exactly cloud computing is. For some, it is a mysterious place online, where all data goes and applications function.
Cloud computing, or often called “the cloud”, is the delivery of software services, applications, data storage, or any kind of computing resources via the internet on an on-demand and pay-per-use basis. “The cloud is a collection of interconnected IT services and infrastructures that are accessible via a network”, says Dr Rajarajan, Professor of Security Engineering at the City University London.
From an end-user’s perspective, the cloud is any IT application, which syncs data online and can be accessed via any device and any internet browser.
Before and After The Cloud
What makes cloud computing so unique? And what is the difference between having a regular software application and using a cloud app?
Traditionally, business applications were installed on your own computer or server, were costly to buy and long and complex to develop and implement. On top of it all, traditional software offered one-size-fits-all features, which could rarely meet the needs of different industries, company sizes or internal business processes. Not to mention the never-ending in-house IT expenses on software support, maintenance and infrastructure involved.
Thankfully, things have changed. Cloud computing helps you access and use the software you need, as you need it, and even where you need it.
Cloud Computing Benefits
With the advancement of cloud technology, the security and reliability of cloud-based software have been improving steadily. Many large organisations and public sector agencies have moved to the cloud to utilise its unique benefits. According to Gartner’s prediction, by 2017, more than 25 percent of government services in Europe will be cloud-based.
Accessibility and Reliability
Cloud applications enable you to use them anywhere you are and on any device. Depending on the level of security required, users can access cloud services via a secured login, or after special authorisation and e-identification processes, such as an electronic ID card, or electronic signature. Data is synced and backed up in the cloud, ensuring complete disaster recovery, and impressive reliability times.
On and Off-boarding is Fast
Software used on an on-demand and per-user basis is often referred to as software as a service (SaaS). Onboarding on a cloud SaaS application takes considerably less time than implementing a custom software solution. The ease of implementing most SaaS solutions comes from the self-serve features of cloud apps – you sign up, configure the features you would like to use, and start using your application right away, not worrying about its support and maintenance – these are all taken care of by your professional cloud service provider.
Scaling is Easy
With cloud software it is no longer necessary to buy software packages, half of whose applications do not bring any value to your effectiveness. Cloud computing allows your agency to easily scale up or down your requirements when needed. In this way, your business software grows naturally together with the business itself, without incurring expensive changes to existing IT systems.
You Pay for What You Need
One of the biggest advantages of cloud technology is its flexibility – you only pay for what you need. Depending on the number of users in your business or agency, and the number of apps you would like to use, cloud application costs can be personalised to your agency’s IT needs.
No IT Management and Support Costs
Beyond the improvement in flexibility and accessibility, SaaS solutions eliminate the need to manage and maintain software and hardware by yourself. This brings companies and government agencies a substantial decrease in capital IT costs and makes cloud apps a cost-efficient tool when dealing with limited budgets.
Cloud applications can be deployed in several ways, depending on the infrastructural organisation, ownership, size and access to the data. Cloud service providers differentiate among public, private, community and hybrid cloud deployment.
Private and hybrid clouds are the preferred choice for businesses and government agencies because they offer a controlled environment with sophisticated security and governance for all sensitive data.
Sources: Gartner, IBM, Infographic Credit: Microsoft
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