Benefits and Risks of Cloud Computing

The phrase “cloud computing” quickly grew from a vague concept into a popular data storage, retrieval and sharing strategy that more and more companies are using to streamline their businesses. As cloud technology continues to advance in terms of security, user-friendliness and efficiency, it becomes more important for every company to consider whether or not cloud services are for them. If you are not using cloud computing yet, should you be? Here’s what you need to know.

What Exactly Is the Cloud?

The cloud is a virtual IT environment where all data and applications are maintained and stored on cloud servers. You may have your own servers and host a private cloud, or your data and applications may be uploaded to a cloud via the internet. Access to your data is controlled by passwords or other security methods as in, for example, Google’s Gmail application.

What Are the Benefits of Using Cloud Computing for Your Business?

A big benefit of cloud computing is that it allows your operation to scale unfettered by space or system demands. The cloud has virtually infinite memory and can handle as much data or software application as you put into it.

Along with this benefit comes lower costs. You don’t have to worry about maintaining a lot of hardware or a team of IT specialists to manage it because so much of your operation takes place on remote cloud servers.

Furthermore, cloud computing can increase efficiency by allowing employees to easily share and access data, allowing you to recover data if it becomes lost or corrupted on your company’s in-house network and freeing you of many hardware maintenance and software installation concerns.

This all sounds pretty good, but what are the downsides to cloud services?

Risks of Cloud Computing

The main risk of cloud computing concerns security. Most of the major cyberattacks you hear about these days, where millions of people’s data are lost or stolen, are the result of attacks on cloud environments. Think of the cloud like a big bank vault in the sky with data instead of cash inside. It’s heavily fortified, but it is still a tempting target for thieves. If you engage in cloud computing, it’s very important that you know and understand the security measures put in place to protect your company’s data and systems.

Another risk is downtime. This is critical because anytime your cloud servers are down, you will not have access to critical data stored in the cloud, which could temporarily shut down your whole operation. Make sure your cloud provider has the least possible downtime and that they have strong backup measures in place for getting you access to your data in an emergency situation.

Finally, inquire about the process should you want to get out of your contract with a cloud service provider. How will you get your data back and how quickly? You don’t want a situation where your data is hijacked because of a disagreement with your provider.

Cloud computing seems to be the wave of the future, but be sure to go in with your eyes wide open and protect your company as you take advantage of cloud technology.

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