Learn the top advantages of cloud computing for your business and how these solutions can give you a competitive edge.
Cloud computing is the delivery of on-demand computing resources via the internet. Cloud service providers offer everything from data storage to processing power, virtual servers, development tools, networking capabilities, and more.
Instead of building their whole computing infrastructure in-house, businesses can use cloud computing services to distribute their IT infrastructure across the internet.
Cloud computing isn’t new. It’s been around for almost 20 years, and many businesses have found that adopting a cloud computing solution brings many advantages.
In this article, we’ll walk you through some of those advantages to help you understand why cloud computing matters, and why you should explore implementing it for your business or org.
Wherever your business is on its cloud computing adoption journey, it can be hard to determine precisely what benefits you’ll realize from this shift simply by reading a technology or software solution description, or a list of a cloud provider’s features.
Here are seven ways cloud computing can benefit your business.
Many companies are worried about how much migrating to the cloud will cost. While any type of technology change will carry an upfront cost, it is important to look at the long-term ROI of moving to the cloud.
Ninety-four percent of companies that migrate to the cloud expect it to reduce infrastructure setup and maintenance costs, and 47% say cost savings is the primary benefit of cloud computing. There are a few reasons for this.
With traditional on-site data centers, a business has to buy the servers, networking cables, switches, and other technology, as well as pay for the space to house it and the price of installation.
With cloud computing, a cloud provider uses virtualization to split physical hardware into smaller units, and a business only pays for the resources it uses. When a business hosts its own infrastructure, it must pay for the power required to run complete servers, even if it only uses a small percentage of them.
When a business’ IT infrastructure is hosted in the cloud, the provider takes care of all maintenance and upgrades. This means the company doesn’t have to hire extra full-time IT staff to do this work.
Often, businesses worry about security when they consider adopting a cloud computing solution. You may wonder how all of your files, data, and applications can be secure if they are accessible via the internet. Doesn’t that make them more vulnerable to hackers and data breaches?
Actually, no. This comes from a misunderstanding of how cloud security works.
Cloud service providers have made it their mission to keep customer data secure. SLAs hold them financially responsible in the event of a security breach, and their reputation depends on not letting that happen. Most service providers adhere to the strictest security standards and hire cybersecurity experts with years of experience to maintain those standards.
The distributed nature of the cloud also aids security. A physical breach could give a hacker access to all resources if your infrastructure is stored in one place, such as a corporate data center. On the cloud, distinct parts of an application are spread out across different servers, and users are authenticated each time they connect to a different part of the application.
Also, because your cloud provider handles maintenance, your applications remain up to date with the necessary bug fixes and security patches, so security vulnerabilities are handled before they even become an issue.
Scalability is another major benefit of cloud computing, and is made possible by sharing computer resources among a range of users. Servers, CPUs, hard drives, and other resources are virtualized in a cloud environment. This means they are essentially turned into software, which comes with a couple of beneficial features.
The first is that physical hardware can be broken up into smaller components. Not every business needs an entire physical server to run their applications. Virtualization allows businesses to rent a portion of the server to fit their needs.
The second benefit is that adding more resources to a business’ infrastructure won’t require new physical hardware. If it did, scaling a company would take weeks of planning. Instead, by using the cloud you can add resources with a click of a button or simply configure your cloud solution to auto-scale so it can adjust dynamically based on usage.
With a traditional data center and software, collaboration can be hard. Documents must be transferred via email, and when multiple people are editing a document, it can be hard to tell who has the final version. This makes it a challenge for employees to work as a team.
With a cloud solution and cloud-based software, employees access and use the same applications via the internet. When a document is edited, everyone can see the changes at once and work together to finalize a document. When files are shared, all employees who need to access them can do so in a centralized location, so they are never lost or outdated.
Moving to the cloud is an important goal for companies that are concerned about sustainability. In a typical on-site data center, a lot of energy is wasted. Servers remain running even when they aren’t being used. And when they are in use, servers can be used inefficiently with extra resources on standby to handle sudden usage surges.
With a cloud provider, virtualization and auto-scaling capabilities mean businesses only use the resources it needs when it needs them. Sustainability is also a focus for cloud service providers; according to Google, for example, their data centers are twice as efficient as a typical corporate data center.
Cloud computing also allows for more flexibility. In the physical hardware world of the traditional data center, an upgrade or change is not easy.
When a business needs to deploy more applications, they have to buy new hardware, rent space to house it, have IT staff install it, and finally reach the point where they can configure the servers and install the necessary software. After that, they may still have to configure security and networking.
On the cloud, they can do all of this with a few commands via an API or through a cloud management dashboard. When changes only take a few minutes, a business can move fast, scale quickly, and test new prototypes efficiently.
Few things are as harmful to a company’s growth as poor quality and inconsistent reporting. To avoid this, all documents are kept in a single location and in the same format in a cloud-based storage system.
When everyone has access to the same data, you can ensure data consistency, combat human error, and keep a clear record of any additions or edits for auditing purposes. When information is managed in silos (like in an on-site data center), employees may unintentionally save multiple versions of documents, which can cause confusion and muddle data.
The benefits of cloud computing covered above can give you a competitive advantage in the following ways:
- Because it saves you money, you will have more available to invest in and grow your business.
- Because it is secure, you avoid data breaches that cost you time and money.
- Because it is scalable, the resources, applications, and processing power you need are always available, and there are no bottlenecks slowing your processes.
- Because your employees can collaborate more effectively, work can be completed at a faster pace.
- Because it is sustainable, it communicates an eco-conscious brand image to your customers.
- Because it is flexible, you can adjust to changes quickly.
- Because the quality of your data is higher, reporting is more accurate.