Sometimes the IT industry throws out a load of hype. “Everything would grind to a halt in 2000″ they said, and it didn’t. “We’ll all be using tablets soon” and … oh, so we did. That’s the problem with the tech market: some of it appears to be hype, some of it doesn’t.
One thing that isn’t going away anytime soon is the cloud. This, essentially, is technology where your own computer is basically linking into someone else’s computer elsewhere and lets you use files and applications over the Internet. It’s like a variation on the old mainframe computing: your computing is hosted elsewhere; you simply log on.
There can be a number of reasons to opt into cloud computing, not least of which is that by now almost everyone has experience of it. Have you used Google Docs? Gone on to the Facebook site? If so, you’ve accessed someone else’s data from your own computer using the internet and, therefore, used cloud computing.
Gmail, and subsequently Google Apps, was adopted by Trunki, the children’s luggage manufacturer. Phil Bagnall, head of operations, explains that the main reason for opting for cloud was that the company didn’t want to run its own IT department as it grew.
“We’re 90% on the cloud now,” he says. “After Google Apps we expanded into Box for file storage and to share documents with customers across the net, and at the end of 2012 we started using NetSuite for finance and enterprise resource planning.”
The company didn’t want to get locked into managing its own IT and recruiting a technology team in its early stages. “Cloud was really the only option,” he says.
It wasn’t just costs and convenience, though; there are real business issues. “You don’t have as many problems with legacy issues,” he says, such as using old versions of software. A good cloud provider offering applications will update software without bothering the end user; it’s just there next time they log on.
Of course, not everything has to go on the cloud. Many people opt for a mixed model of cloud for sensitive things and localised computing for the day-to-day stuff. There are different forms of cloud – private cloud which is exclusive to its clients, public cloud such as Google, which anyone can log on to very cheaply, and hybrid, in which the provider balances the client’s needs against the technical offerings.
There are a few myths about problems with cloud technology, but it’s only another form of computing. If you don’t want to concern yourself with technology and upgrades, it’s something well worth considering and you also won’t have to fork out a load of initial expenditure.
Myths of cloud technology busted
• “Your data is safe on the cloud because it’s backed up” Quite possibly as long as your cloud provider is backing it up. Make sure your cloud provider is backing up. Ask.
• “All cloud providers understand the Data Protection Act” The good ones in the UK do. Elsewhere, they may feel less bound by the laws that exist over here – although many will. Again, ask.
• “Cloud is safer than computing on site” It may well be but you need to find a professional cloud provider who has contingencies planned – including what happens when they are acquired or go bankrupt. Ironically, the ones who’ve planned for it are possibly among the least likely to have a problem.
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