To be able to appreciate what cloud computing is all about, it is very important to understand what it stands for. Cloud computing is essentially used to describe a process where a number of off-site servers are pooled together on the internet to share resources rather than having servers and processors locally doing your IT work. What characterizes cloud computing is that it is often available for a price only on demand – when you need it and how much you need and is outsourced and managed by a service provider.
For many cloud has been a difficult concept to understand, but there is no doubt that it is disruptive and positive for an enterprise. It provides speed and agility to an enterprise’s IT needs. Cloud has seen popularity because of its many advantages:
Fast – Cloud is a lot faster than any traditional software and hardware. It does not suffer from any of the limitations of physical hardware and software, which means the output is much faster. For example 3D and graphic rendering for many products are now done on the cloud. This has vastly improved the speed of generating output and has meant work that generally took days to complete is now done within hours. Cloud enables a firm to be nimble and ensure it has faster processing speeds at reasonable costs.
SaaS model – Cloud has opened doors to Software as a Service Industry (SaaS). This means an enterprise does not have to pick up the entire suite of software, he can pick and choose the parts that suit them the best and only pay for that. Cloud has meant different subscription models can be offered to an enterprise, which has made IT software adoption much more economical. Good quality IT software is now accessible to everyone and anyone.
Demands on IT – As an enterprise grows in size, its demands on IT increases. As the world moves rapidly in adopting technology, IT is expected to look at every aspect of business. From office intranet, to planning, marketing, sales, customer experience and big data analytics amongst others, the demands for IT is ever increasing. This has meant there is tremendous pressure on enterprises to meet all the IT needs and keep up with emerging requirements.
Skilled manpower – As demands increase and IT within an organization grows, an enterprise needs the manpower to address various needs. However, good and skilled manpower in the field of hardware and software is hard to come by. IT staff also needs to stay updated on new technologies and this may prove to be a problem. Some try to get over the paucity by outsourcing their IT requirements, but this is not cheap. Cloud does away with all such needs as physical IT infrastructure for an enterprise is limited and an enterprise needs very little of no manpower to take care of it.
Expenditure – One of the biggest advantages of cloud is that it does away with capital expenditure needed to set up an enterprise IT framework. Beyond a good internet connection, an enterprise does not need to incur any cost in buying costly hardware like servers and processors. This also means significant space is freed up that can be used for other purposes. Technology evolves at a rapid pace and even before an enterprise realizes, most of its IT can be outdated. Being on the cloud ensures an enterprise will save on the cost of upgrading the IT infrastructure.
Effective Disaster Recovery – The problem with physical infrastructure is that it is prone to developing problems. In systems parlance, what is known as “crash” often leads to vital information being lost. It can be particularly problematic if information or data was vital in nature and the recovery process is often futile. To manage such risk, various levels of backup needs to be created and this adds to another layer of costs. Cloud removes all such risks as there is no physical infrastructure. Information is held on the remote servers that have effective data recovery systems and every bit of information can be retrieved on demand at any time. Completely secure, data management and its record keeping on the cloud is simple and efficient.
Easy Scalability – For a company that is growing an evolving, getting a fix on the amount of IT infrastructure can be a tricky proposition. SMEs often face uncertainty and by having your IT needs on the cloud, an SME can tune its services according to its needs. This also means when the good times come, an SME is not impaired by the lack of adequate and required IT systems. With cloud scaling up and at the same time scaling down the IT services is almost instantaneous. This means when business peaks an SME can demand for extra resources to keep pace with demand in a much more economical way.
Mobility – A company nowadays is in a constant state of flux with many of its employees in motion. Having a system that is accessible from anywhere at any time is a necessity and not a luxury. By adopting the cloud technology an organization is able to create a mobile environment for itself and employees can gain information, collaborate and share from any place at any time as long as they have access to the internet. This greatly increases productivity and a company’s ability to have seamless flow of information within its employees.
(Ashish Mittal is founder and Chief mentor, Turning Ideas, focused on helping multiple startups in mobile, social and cloud domain. He was instrumental in starting Google Enterprise business in India and worked for Microsoft, Oracle and IBM. He is part of advisory board for multiple higher education Institutes and Government and also guides students in becoming Industry ready. He also drives charity for underprivileged known as Turning Life Foundation.)