What is the Cloud?

When used in a technology context, the word “cloud” or phrase “the cloud” has become a metaphor for the internet. So, when someone refers to cloud computing, they’re talking about accessing data and programs that are hosted on a server and accessed via the web using a browser, such as Internet Explorer (IE), Firefox, Chrome, etc.

There are 4 main types of clouds that businesses commonly use:

Private cloud

The cloud infrastructure (network) is used by one organization. It can be hosted on premise on your own server, or hosted by an outside partner like Intelligent Technologies, Inc. If maintained on premise private clouds are the most expensive option, but they allow companies to maintain physical control over the hardware and data.

Public cloud

The cloud infrastructure (network) is made available to the general public by a cloud service provider such as Microsoft, Amazon or Google. The service providers own and operate the servers. As a result, customers share the same infrastructure, have limited control over the system’s configurations and security measures, and generally can’t control where their data is stored. But on the other hand, thanks to economies of scale, private clouds are the most cost effective option.

Hybrid cloud

As the name suggests, hybrid clouds are a combination of public and private clouds. This scenario is generally most useful when businesses have certain sensitive data they need to maintain control over, but would like to also take advantage of cost savings and employ a public cloud with less sensitive data.

Community cloud

The newest of all the cloud options, community clouds are shared by several organizations that cooperatively govern, manage and secure the cloud infrastructure (network), either on their own or with the help of a partner like Intelligent Technologies, Inc. These communities generally have similar needs and are committed to working together to reach their cloud related business goals.

Top benefits of adopting the cloud in your business

Cost Savings

Buying traditional business software usually requires a large upfront investment, whereas access to cloud systems is usually purchased on a subscription basis. That means you are able to pay for the software slowly over time and pay only for the features/users that you really need.

Fewer IT headaches

Anyone who has ever upgraded their business’ PCs and/or servers knows all too well how expensive it can be. When you move to the cloud, you are essentially renting space on the servers owned by whomever is running your cloud service. So, you never have to worry about running out of space and needing to upgrade your own servers again.

Simplified backup and recovery

In most cases, cloud solution providers handle backup and recovery for their subscribers. So, your IT staff is freed up to focus on other tasks that contribute to your bottom line.

Automatic updates

Just like with backup and recovery, most cloud service providers keep their customers software up to date for them. No more spending valuable time applying software updates and patches.

Utilize and duplicate successful business processes with ease

Successful cloud services are designed based on customer feedback and lessons learned from their experiences using the system. New customers are immediately given access to the processes, formulas and interfaces that have been thoroughly tested and proven to deliver the best results.

Improved security

While it may seem counterintuitive at first to say that moving to the cloud can increase your security, there are many times where this may be the case. Consider this, cloud providers know that if the data customers have trusted them with is compromised even once, they risk losing a great deal of business. So the successful ones, including Microsoft invest a lot of time and money in keeping their services secure, and because of economies of scale they’re able to deliver advanced security features at a lower per user cost than business could realize on their own.

When the cloud might not be the best fit

Over the last few years cloud services have matured a great deal and there is no doubt that they will continue to do so as the trend towards cloud computing intensifies with time.

That said, there are some situations where a cloud deployment may not be appropriate.

  • Access to your data or applications cannot be dependent on whether or not you have an available internet connection.
  • You can’t or don’t want to give up physical control over your data and/or applications.
  • Your line of business demands that you comply with extremely strict legal or regulatory guidelines.

If either of the last two items on this list are a concern for you, a private cloud may be a better fit for your business than a public one. Remember, when you move to a public cloud you’re storing your information on someone else’s server.

Now that you have the answer to the question what is the cloud, understand the major benefits and considerations, take the next step and explore what the cloud solutions we offer can do for your business.

Have questions? Ready to learn how the cloud can assist with your specific business challenges? No problem! Our experts can help.