Cloud Computing


What is the “Cloud”?

Simple really the "cloud" is basically just the internet. Cloud computing is the use of the Internet for the tasks you perform on your computer. This means not only accessing services but putting more data out there (in the cloud) and less on your PCs or servers.

This can be done in various ways, such as SaaS (software-as-a- service) or PaaS (platform-as a-service). There are fundamental differences between the various forms of cloud computing, and they do not all offer the same benefit.


Benefits of the “Cloud” to SME’s

• Reduced Cost - Cloud technology is paid incrementally, saving money.
• Increased Storage – Ability to store more data than on private computer systems.
• Highly Automated - No need to worry about keeping software up to date.
• Flexibility - Cloud computing offers much more flexibility than previous computing methods.
• More Mobility - Employees can access information wherever they are.
• Allows IT to Shift Focus - No longer having to worry about constant server updates and other computing issues.

What is software-as-a-service (SaaS)?

Google Mail and Google Docs are examples of this kind of cloud computing. Services accessed using a web browser.


What is platform-as-a-service (PaaS)?

Microsoft Windows Azure and Google App Engine are examples of PaaS. These are lower-level services such as an operating system (Windows) or web server offered by a cloud provider. Developers can then build their own custom applications.


What is infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS)?

Running of servers or virtual servers that a business can use on a “pay-as- you-go basis”.


What is the difference between public, private and hybrid clouds?

Businesses who want the benefits of cloud computing but without the risks involved with trusting their data to a third party can create cloud-like infrastructure in their own data centre. This is called a private cloud.

The public cloud refers to providers such as Amazon, Google and, whose shared services are available to everyone.

A hybrid approach uses both public and private services.


What is virtualisation?

This involves mimicking computer hardware in software, this means one or more emulated computers can run simultaneously on a single physical computer.

Cloud computing service providers can use hardware efficiently by running many virtual servers on each machine in a data centre. Sometimes virtual machines can be moved between company premises and cloud providers.


Are there any risks?

Cloud computing has real benefits, but some of the risks can be devastating for SME’s. They can include but are not limited to - complete loss of service, regulatory problems (when personal data is stored internationally), security concerns when users lose control of how their data is protected and in some cases one-sided service agreements that give users little compensation in the event of a catastrophe.


Cloud computing and Interoperability

One obstacle to cloud computing is the interoperability of applications especially with web based applications. This is where one of the main benefits of cloud computing i.e. being able to store information on the web and allowing it to carry out most of the 'computing' actually becomes a barrier to getting things done.


Cloud computing may or may not be the most suitable option for your business, if you're unsure please give us a call and we'll talk it through.