The Shift Toward Cloud-Based Services

“To the cloud”

You’ve likely heard those three words before. Get used to them – you’re going to be hearing them a lot more in the future. So just what is “the cloud?” “The cloud” is short for cloud computing, which is a concept wherein resources, data, software, information, etc. are shared over a network. Think of it like an electric grid, which acts the network that provides power to homes and businesses within a designated area. In the case of cloud computing, the network that shares this vital information is typically the Internet or some type of specialized server. And the designated area in which its shared is typically employees of a multi-location company.

So why is there this global shift toward cloud technologies? For three primary reasons: Cloud computing is easy to use, can increase business efficiency and decrease business costs. For example, cloud computing consists of storing data and files remotely rather than on a hard drive. This ensures that data can be easily and efficiently stored and minimizes the risk of lost data due to hardware malfunctions or stolen data thanks to computer hackers. This strategy is increasingly important for international companies, or domestic companies that manufacture their products overseas. Cloud technologies enable such companies to keep better track of data and changes to data without having to e-mail or ship files, plans or blueprints. And such information can be acquired instantly.

Consider the following example of the eco-luxury automaker Fisker Automotive. The automaker has developed two vehicles – the Karma and the Surf (the Surf is essentially a family-sized version of the Karma). Fisker had both models manufactured in Finland and communicated via the cloud with the manufacturer to inform them of any design changes that would be made to the models so that changes could quickly be made to modify such requests immediately on-site.

The Fisker example brings us to the other two main benefits of cloud computing – increased efficiency and decreased costs. Just like in the Fisker example, the cloud enables instant communication of data and important information. The faster a business receives such data, the faster they are able to either learn the information or make the changes that will keep the business operating. And essentially, increased efficiency means decreased costs.

Some of the most basic examples of cloud computing are e-mail services like Gmail, while some of the more advanced technologies are private business clouds. Cloud technologies are services that employees should be able to access from either their laptop, phone or tablet device, just so long as they are able to access the Internet. Because these technologies are accessed via the Internet, they’re less labor intensive, as hours of software downloads and updates and required maintenance are no longer necessary. That can save big dollars in IT costs in and of itself.

While cloud computing is one of the hottest buzzwords in the tech world today, there are still a good amount of businesses that aren’t taking advantage of its benefits. The most common reason for this is because many companies state that they don’t yet know enough about it. It’s true – some companies are intimidated by the thought of taking business to the cloud and stand by the “if it’s not broke, why fix it” mantra. But companies that enable the cloud and use it correctly could take business profits from modest to significant. Yes, cloud computing has that much potential pay off. And it’s why those three simple words – “to the cloud”- will only be increasing in how often they’re said.

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