The Cloud – What it is and why you should use it
It wasn’t all that long along ago that the word cloud was reserved for conversations about the weather, so you can be forgiven for being a bit hazy on what “The Cloud” is all about.
In a nutshell:
- Cloud computing uses the internet and central remote servers to store and maintain data and applications – rather than a hard drive.
- This means businesses and individuals can access applications from the cloud without having them installed on their device.
- With the cloud, so long as you have an internet connection, you can access your personal files on any device, anywhere.
And, whether you’re familiar with it or not, you’re probably already using the cloud.
- You use cloud computing when you update your Facebook status.
- When you upload photos to Instagram, you’re uploading them to the cloud.
- You’re in the cloud when you do internet banking on your phone.
- Those apps you love so much? Yep. In the cloud.
- Google drive is another cloud-based application.
- Do you subscribe to Netflix? You’re favourite shows are up in the cloud.
“I WANDERED LONELY AS A CLOUD”
The poet William Wordsworth famously used a simile of a cloud to describe his solitary state.
In a similar way, “the cloud” is just a metaphor for the internet – who knew computer engineers could be so poetic?
The term may sound insubstantial, and the cloud can hold a whole heap of information and has the potential to save you a whole heap of money.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE USING THE CLOUD
There are many good reasons to move to the cloud.
Cost saving and profit increasing
- You don’t have to invest in expensive hardware or the staff to maintain it. In fact, you don’t need a very powerful computer or tonnes of GB’s on your phone to run your business in the cloud.
- You don’t buy software, rather you subscribe for access to what you need, when you need it. This means you get all the latest upgrades.
- And, because you’re accessing the best technology, you’re in a better position to compete against other businesses – big and small.
- Cloud-based systems allow you to scale up or down your bandwidth demands.
- It also allows you and your staff to access your files or shared documents anywhere – so long as you have internet access.
- On top of this, you can usually access what you need on any device.
- The fact that you can work from anywhere, anytime will make your business more efficient.
- Staff members who work off-site can access emails, plans or documents, fill in forms and submit applications on the spot.
- In most cases when staff are given the chance to telecommute, at least some of the time, productivity rises.
- You won’t be wasting time, or money, dealing with onsite hardware failures.
- The cloud allows your team members to access, edit (in real time) and share documents from anywhere at any time, leading to better outcomes all round.
- Collaboration between onsite and remote staff or consultants saves time, email chain frustration and is great for document integrity too.
Security and recovery
- The cloud has made reliable disaster recovery a reality for businesses big and small.
- And when you use a cloud-based system, if you or your staff lose a phone or laptop you don’t lose all your important files.
- You can even wipe a lost device remotely.
CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF RAIN
Of course, there’s disadvantages to every technology, including the cloud.
Not all businesses need or even suit the whole gamut of cloud-based options. And, if you do want to embrace it all, you may need bigger and better phone and internet plans.
The big one is that if the internet goes down, or you suddenly find yourself with no service, you can’t access the cloud. But, in my experience, local problems are short lived. What’s more, if the whole thing ever falls apart, and the likes of Amazon, Google and Apple go down, we’ll all be dealing with bigger problems than accessing personal data.
Some people question the security of the cloud, but others think it’s the safest place for their information. It’s certainly got some of the best minds in the business working to keep it that way.
ONLINE INFLUENCE’S CLOUD-BASED APPROACH
You could say that Online Influence has its head in the clouds. Our web servers are cloud-based and we also use:
- G Suite for storing our emails
- Google drive and dropbox for file storage
- iCloud for desktop storage and or backups
- Podio for project management and team communications, and
- Zoom and Podio for client support and communication.
I use a Chrome book when I’m out of the office. This is a new breed of device, primarily designed to be used while connected to the internet, with most applications and documents living in the cloud.
I have to admit I was a little sceptical when I first got it, but I soon realised how handy it was to link to our cloud-based systems. It also allows me to access my Mac desktop from wherever I am (so long as I have an internet connection) or I can hotspot from my phone. Too easy.
NOT SURE WHAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU?
If you’re unsure of how to maximise the benefits of the cloud for your business, the Online Influence team has the insight and the experience to help. Call us today to find out the best solution for you and your business.