At its simplest, cloud computing means moving the services a company relies on to shared or managed servers outside the organization’s firewall. This saves individuals and groups from investing in on-premises infrastructure, gives their data mobility, grants access to the latest technologies and helps them capitalize on many other benefits.
The cloud computing model offers a potentially cheaper way for businesses and nonprofits to stay organized and online. Still, your particular use case will determine the degree to which that’s true. Organizations don’t need to compare, shop for and purchase physical infrastructure when they have a reliable cloud computing partner.
Although the prices for hard drives, solid-state drives, server racks and other necessary items have fallen in recent years, cloud computing comes out on top in terms of cost outlays. It’s still less expensive in many cases to pay an ongoing subscription fee for cloud computing access than to purchase and then maintain an in-house data-processing or warehousing apparatus.
Running a business, research lab, nonprofit or other entity is challenging at the best of times. It’s also unpredictable, particularly amid worries of recession, inflation, pandemic, war, labor organizing and supply-chain disruptions.
One of the soft advantages of cloud computing is the chance to scale at your own pace. Companies are wise to have their major movements plotted out three to five years in advance, but the world can be unpredictable. Whether you want to grow aggressively or cautiously or scale back strategically during times of turmoil, cloud computing is a business asset you pay for only as and when you need it.
Cloud computing is about far more than online storage for files. Laboratories and companies worldwide now rent access to the next-generation technology they need to complete their tasks, and run programs on those platforms over the internet using the cloud.
Examples of some of the technology available as cloud platforms include AI and machine learning models, data analytics capabilities and containerization. Analysts expect the market for cloud-based AI to reach a value of $13.1 billion by 2026. The chance to build powerful machine learning and AI applications without first purchasing physical computing capacity is a powerful motivator and competitive playing-field leveler.
By some estimates, small businesses are three times more likely to suffer a cyberattack than bigger corporations. That probably comes as a surprise to many owners. The reasons are plain to see, however — just 33% of companies with four or fewer employees register hacks as a threat at all.
There are around 13,130,743 companies in this size category in the United States, which means an enormous number of records could be vulnerable. Conducting business in the cloud means having access to industry-standard data protection, firewalls and automated 24/7 network monitoring. Not every organization can afford to retain that kind of IT talent and infrastructure in-house.
One of the most important benefits of cloud computing is mobility. It’s increasingly important for employees to be able to perform many different compute-heavy tasks from wherever they happen to be. With work-life balance and telecommuting on everybody’s minds these days, data and workflow mobility via the cloud presents itself as a logical investment.
Interestingly, there seems to be a correlation between an organization’s investment in cloud productivity services and employee retention. Companies that name worker satisfaction as a top-tier priority are 24% more likely to invest in cloud products. Contractors, salespeople and field agents benefit from the convenience, and businesses appreciate the seamless organization and data exchange.
An advantage of cloud computing closely related to mobility is simpler collaboration. It’s one thing to take your platforms, services and data mobile. It’s another challenge to reconcile all the data gathered by your company’s agents, organize it, and ensure there are no errors or duplicates.
Cloud services mean simpler and less error-prone collaboration between colleagues, departments, clients, customers, the sales floor and the board of directors. There’s less time required to exchange data and draw meaningful conclusions from it, and everybody works from the same single source of truth.
Data analytics deserves more attention. Cloud computing has done more to deliver powerful predictive analytics to the masses than any other technology. Even when you don’t have the machines you need under your roof, somebody on the other side of the globe has computing capacity available for you to access for a reasonable fee.
Here’s what you can do with this computing capacity:
There’s almost no limit to the capabilities of advanced big-data analytics. You’re only limited by your creativity and the amount of computing capacity available to you.
The cloud itself presents opportunities bound only by your ambitions and imagination. It’s a deeply utilitarian tool by design, but the benefits provided by cloud computing have proven more than the sum of their parts.