What is the Cloud?
Ask ten information technology (IT) specialists for an explanation of "Cloud technology", and you will receive 20 definitions. Your experts aren't being intentionally obscure; the word is an umbrella term (unlike "a iPhone", "a model XYZ laptop" or anything with defined stats). The Cloud is not a specific solution. It can encompass many different technologies, and answers change whether you're discussing email, storage, phones, servers or other technologies. "Cloud" describes the method used in designing a solution. Here is a high-level definition of that method:
"Cloud technology is computing and software resources that are delivered on demand, as a service."
Compare a Cloud-based solution to others in its class, and you will find similarities. While the detailed features can change based on the provider and intended solution, the list below is comprised of functions common to many business-focused Cloud solutions.
Cloud solutions are decentralized.
There should be no single point of failure in a Cloud solution. For example, consider a company with five locations. At one location, you have the company's main office with a server room containing the company's email, phones, shared data and everything else needed to make the company work. A disadvantage here is that the main office is a point of failure. If something happens, all five offices will suffer from that failure. A decentralized model ensures that the loss of any one office will not impact the others. If the company headquarters goes down the company may have big problems, but operations in the other four locations -- including access to email, phones and shared date -- is not one of them.
This concept extends to the individual user; there is no longer a technological need to come into the office because "that's where my data is." From the end user's perspective, data access is the same whether the user is in the office, at a hotel or on the beach.
Cloud solutions are redundant.
A common question about Cloud infrastructure is, "So where exactly is my data?" In the Cloud, other companies keep your data contained and secured better than you do yourself. An example is redundancy. The Cloud players deal with massive amounts of data, and consequently have very stable services. We're talking Microsoft, Google and others (companies who have the resources to ensure the data under their control is redundant). The loss of a hard drive, a server, a building or even a city should not affect you being able to access your data. Redundant solutions provide significantly improved access to your data and assurance of backup.
Cloud solutions are secure.
We live in an age with a high focus on security, data encryption and government-level compliance standards to ensure that only the right people have access to the right data. A Cloud solution must ensure the new home for your data has very high safety standards. This often means limited access and high security data centers, but also encryption and data security to make sure that your data is safe when at rest in the Cloud and when in transit to your users. Cloud solutions have a heavy focus on security.
Cloud solutions are scalable.
Scalability is a power tool for resizing your company. If your company grows, you can add Cloud infrastructure on demand... instantly! Deployment becomes significantly faster. Similarly, if your business shrinks you can scale down the cloud implementation to compensate, only paying for the resources you use.
Contract this concept to the equipment in a server room, where companies often struggle to work with their existing overloaded hardware or are forced to pay for more than what they need with the expectation of future growth. Scalability allows you to pay for only what you need, and can immediately accommodate positive and negative growth.
Cloud solutions are easier.
The Cloud brings decreased complexity, administrative time and risk. Cloud services add comparatively little on-premise hardware. Electricity, hardware, software, backup and infrastructure maintenance are absorbed by cloud vendors, not your internal staff.
Cloud solutions are i3 Business Solutions.
i3 Business Solutions provides Cloud consulting services. Our goal is not to sell you all things Cloud, but first determine if it's even appropriate for your business. Based on that analysis, we then provide design and implementation services. Yes, Cloud technology is the latest IT buzzword, but it's justified. Only a few years ago, the industry didn't have the capacity or infrastructure to support Cloud as it exists today. Now that Cloud is here, we see the benefits it bring to our clients.
The Cloud is just another technological tool, but it's a powerful one that can improve your business. We at i3 know how to use it. We'd like to share that knowledge with you. Learn more at www.i3bus.com/cloud or email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.