14 Benefits of Cloud Computing for Your Business
Author: Mike Khorev
Numerous businesses all around the world are now adopting cloud computing and other cloud services to facilitate their growth. This trend is expected to continue throughout 2022 and onwards. After all, cloud computing can provide many different benefits for both businesses and individuals: improved versatility, lower operating costs, more efficient time to market, and more.
Yet is adopting cloud computing the right approach for your business? Will the benefits gained from cloud computing outweigh the costs in terms of time, money, and resources?
In this guide, we will delve into the benefits businesses can achieve by adopting to cloud computing. In addition we will cover important things you should know regarding cloud computing, including:
- What is cloud computing?
- A brief history of the cloud
- Different types of cloud computing
- Types of cloud services available
- Is cloud computing secure?
Without further ado, let us begin by taking a quick look at what cloud computing is.
What Is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is an umbrella term used to describe the delivery of computing services (both software and hardware) over a network (in most cases, the internet.)
This means that end-users can access these software and hardware solutions remotely over the internet, even when they don’t have any physical access to the computing service.
Thanks to advancements in technology, there are now numerous types of computing services that can be delivered over the cloud, including but not limited to servers, storage spaces (i.e., DropBox), databases, software solutions, analytics tools, and intelligence solutions.
Before the days of the cloud, people traditionally ran applications or programs on their physical devices: software solutions must be downloaded (or delivered via physical storage devices like a DVD), installed on the physical hardware, and run on the hardware within the underlying OS (Operating System).
With the cloud, on the other hand, the user does not need to download or install anything. The main computing process takes place on another machine (typically remote) that is not the one currently being used by the user. This allows users to use devices with less computing power (which are typically much cheaper) and will reduce or even eliminate the need for storage spaces.
A Brief History of Cloud Technology
The term “cloud” and “cloud computing” might be relatively new in mainstream popularity. However, the actual concept isn’t new and has been around for more than half a century. In 1963, DARPA funded MIT for developing a technology allowing virtual computers to be used by two or more people simultaneously.
MIT then developed those gigantic analog computers (with magnetic tapes), and while the technology seems archaic, the concept is actually very similar to what we now understand as “cloud computing.”
In 1969, the first, very primitive version of the internet was born in the form of the ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network). As we know, the internet is crucial for access to the cloud.
By the 1970s, the concept of a Virtual Machine (VM) was introduced, described as a computer file that acts like a real computer with a fully functional operating system that can be accessed over the internet. By the 1990s, the use of virtual desktop solutions have achieved widespread popularity, and the demands have invited many major companies to develop modern cloud computing infrastructures.
The modern concept of cloud computing was born in 1997 by Professor Ramnath Chellapa of Emory University, which defined “cloud computing” as the new computing paradigm, and suggested the idea that in the age of the cloud, the boundaries of computing will be determined by economic value rather than technical limits alone (which has been proven to be true.)
By the early 2000s, many notable enterprises, including Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple, and Netflix, started providing various cloud-based services to their users, marking the realization of the cloud computing concept.
Today, as we know, cloud computing is already everywhere and is still rapidly growing in scale, implemented in various forms and models of deployments.
Different Types of Cloud Computing
We can generally differentiate cloud computing into four major types based on its deployment models.
The deployment model of the cloud computing service will mainly determine how users can connect to the cloud service and how many users a cloud service is serving simultaneously. The type of deployments chosen can significantly affect the benefits a business will get from cloud computing, so learning about these different deployment types can be useful:
1- Public cloud
In a public cloud deployment, both the cloud infrastructure and resources (i.e., applications) are hosted and delivered by a third-party provider. The enterprise using the public cloud may use multiple cloud services without relying on private cloud infrastructure (or on-premises infrastructure).
The public cloud offers convenience and cost-efficiency. Organizations simply rent the software and hardware solutions rather than buying the solutions at full price, making it a popular option among smaller companies with limited resources and budget to implement an on-premises private cloud.
However, relying on public cloud services will also mean sacrificing control.
2- Private cloud
A private cloud deployment refers to an on-demand infrastructure and resources that are owned by the enterprise in question. Therefore, the private cloud is also often called “on-premises cloud” or “on-premises data center.”
With a private cloud, the business has more control over its resources and data, but this will also mean the business is solely responsible for security and performance.
In some industries, a private cloud deployment may be required to ensure compliance with regulatory demands, for example, to ensure the organization follows relevant security protocols.
With a private cloud, an organization will gain access to more control and freedom in scaling their systems, and when the private cloud deployment is large enough, the organization can even offer IT services to LOB (Line of Business) departments over the cloud.
Organizations with sufficient budget and resources may opt to operate their own data center and gain similar benefits to that of a public cloud.
3- Hybrid cloud
As the name suggests, a hybrid cloud deployment is a combination of private and public cloud deployments. So, a company utilizes both public and private cloud services to improve quality and consistency.
Many companies who initially rely on a private data center and are looking to migrate to the public cloud often adopt the hybrid cloud approach to streamline the transition. This is also a common approach for companies that previously relied on legacy (non-cloud-native) technologies and applications that may need to be refactored before they can be successfully migrated to the cloud.
The hybrid cloud also offers more scalability and versatility. For example, if there’s a sudden demand in traffic, a company can rapidly spin new instances of the public cloud elements, allowing the company to meet the demands without needing to invest in extra infrastructure.
A multi-cloud deployment refers to a combination of one or more private clouds and public clouds.
For example, if an organization relies on multiple cloud providers (i.e., Google Cloud Platform+ Amazon Web Services), then it can be considered a multi-cloud deployment. This practice is common in many organizations: they may use AWS for hosting VMs and GCP for its Google Workspace tools.
Also, organizations can be both multi-cloud and hybrid cloud when they use multiple service providers on top of their own private cloud.
Different Types of Cloud Services
As we’ve discussed, many companies are now increasingly adopting cloud services in their workflow due to their reliability in performance and cost-efficiency, thanks to advancements in technology.
There are basically four basic types of cloud services, each designed to cater to different needs and problems. It’s important to understand the differences between each service type, so you can make the most of the cloud computing solution of your choice and reap its benefits:
1- Software as a Service (SaaS)
Currently the most popular and most developed type of public cloud service. SaaS offers software or a set of software solutions that users can access over the cloud.
Google Docs (including Google Sheets and Google Slides) is a good example of SaaS: you can use Google Docs right away without needing to download, save, and run the application on your hard drive.
SaaS allows businesses to invest in a full software solution but pays only a fraction of the price over a period of time. Also, SaaS allows end-users to access heavier applications (i.e., graphics-intensive applications) from less powerful and more affordable devices.
2- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS is a type of cloud computing service in which enterprises rent servers from cloud providers for data computing/processing and storage in the cloud.
Since in an IaaS model, the enterprise is only renting the hardware and not the applications, typically, it will require in-house IT expertise. So, IaaS is typically more suited for companies with established IT departments (with experienced personnel) or tech companies.
3- Platform as a Service (PaaS)
In the PaaS model, a third-party cloud provider delivers hardware and software tools for application development over the cloud. This allows an enterprise to develop and deploy its own software solutions without needing to invest in the necessary hardware and software infrastructure.
PaaS can be delivered through public, private, and hybrid cloud deployments to deliver the required services. Due to the nature of the service, users will normally pay for PaaS on a per-use basis (until the application has been developed and deployed). Yet, there are also providers that charge a flat subscription (monthly) fee.
4- Function as a Service (FaaS)
The FaaS solution allows an enterprise to execute a code (or pieces of code) over the cloud. FaaS essentially eliminates the need to physically run and manage a server to run this code, and therefore FaaS is often called a “serverless” service.
FaaS allows developers to write, test, and update a piece of code from anywhere and on any device and then can execute the code over the cloud. This makes FaaS a very cost-effective way to implement microservices and is highly scalable.
Benefits of Cloud Computing
Why should you migrate your workloads to the cloud? What benefits will your business get?
Different enterprises may benefit from cloud computing in various ways, which may also vary depending on the type of deployment and the type of cloud services deployed.
Nevertheless, below are the key benefits an enterprise can expect to achieve when adopting any cloud computing services:
1- Flexible resource distribution
One of the biggest advantages offered by cloud computing over legacy technologies is resource distribution.
With the right cloud computing service in place, multiple users can access and share the same data and resources simultaneously, from anywhere, and with technically any device.
For example, with Google Drive or DropBox (both are cloud services), users can easily upload and share files with another user that they can access immediately even when they don’t have their laptop or desktop PC at the moment.
2- Ease of access
To access a cloud service, for example, you’ll only need a mobile device and a reliable internet connection to use the service. You can reduce or even eliminate the costs needed to invest in on-premises infrastructure and endpoint devices. If you have the internet, you will be able to access and use the cloud service right away.
3- Always available
Most of today’s reliable cloud providers will guarantee the availability of your application and data 99.9% of the time, especially if you are hosting your critical data in remote cloud storage.
Investing in a cloud service solution will allow you to access the services whenever you want and from anywhere. For example, you can access YouTube (a cloud service) from anywhere, anytime, and from virtually any device.
The improved flexibility and versatility offered by the cloud computing solution can allow your business to be more agile, which is highly beneficial in today’s digital environment.
Cloud computing is also highly scalable: you can easily increase or decrease the resources you are renting according to your exact needs with just a phone call away. Also, this increase/decrease in resources will not negatively affect the user experience.
5- Real-time monitoring and analytics
Deploying a cloud computing service will also mean easier monitoring of your business’s current performance and resources consumption.
Cloud computing should provide you with some analytics on resource allocation, data usage, and activity logs, among other key performance metrics you can monitor. The information will help you make proactive decisions when necessary.
6- Quick deployment
Cloud computing allows businesses to quickly add computing instances in a matter of minutes or even seconds. In the long run, this can lead to major improvements in both agility and speed.
Businesses don’t have to be cautious in scaling their businesses and can perform tests and implementations without having to be limited by slow deployment processes or hardware limitations.
7- Centralized maintenance and updates
In a cloud computing environment, businesses can have a more centralized maintenance and monitoring process: everything can be monitored on a single dashboard, which makes it easier for IT departments to perform troubleshooting and/or software updates when needed.
8- Improved data security
Still related to the above: centralized maintenance and management would translate into improved security.
It’s no secret that data security is now a major concern for many businesses, regardless of industry and size. Cloud solutions not only offer the ability to monitor everything centrally, but many reputable cloud providers will also offer many advanced security features to ensure the security and integrity of your data.
For example, a cloud computing solution may offer a comprehensive access control feature that allows access management via federated roles, on top of state-of-the-art encryption.
As an enterprise, obviously, you expect your business to grow.
Yet will your system and technology solutions also grow with your business?
Integrating cloud computing services into your business will enable your enterprise to scale up your business quickly, efficiently, and securely. All of this can be achieved, without requiring hefty investments you’d otherwise get when relying on legacy solutions.
Also, when you need to scale down your operations (i.e., when you are losing customers), you can easily reduce the number of resources you get from the cloud provider, which can often be just a phone call or email away.
10- Virtually unlimited storage capacity
In this digital era, the demands for storage space are continuously increasing, and storage is also expected to get more expensive in 2022 and onwards.
By migrating to the cloud, you essentially gain access to unlimited storage capacity to store any data. Obviously, if managed ineffectively, cloud storage could be very expensive and may end up not being cost-effective for your business.
It’s important to first assess your business’s needs regarding storage: access frequency, data volume, how available you would like this stored data to get, and so on. This is so that you can plan a cost-effective strategy when leveraging cloud storage to your business’s advantage.
11- Facilitating collaboration
With the always-connected nature, cloud computing environments facilitate better communications and collaborations across teams and departments. All the different departments in your organization are all exposed to uniformed cloud infrastructure and can simultaneously work without interfering with each other.
Organizations can easily establish roles and implement role-based access control/permissions to ensure better transparency and accountability. In turn, this will not only help with avoiding conflicts but also improves the overall productivity of the whole team.
When required, enterprises can build different cloud environments for different purposes (i.e., one for staging/testing and another for demo). This will allow a more transparent and effective collaboration throughout the organization.
12- Versatile backup and restore
One of the key perks of cloud computing is that data can be stored in the cloud virtually without capacity limitations. This ultimately facilitates more versatile backup and restore functionality for the whole organization.
When for example, a cloud application isn’t working as intended, the organization can easily roll back the application into the previously stable state, so it can continue operations without too much downtime.
13- Centralized access control management
In today’s reality, when data is becoming a very valuable commodity, it’s crucial for any organization to establish control over its sensitive and regulated data. We wouldn’t want sensitive customer data to get into the wrong hands, even to untrained and/or potentially malicious employees.
The cloud environment enables centralized, complete control over your data usage: you can easily provide access to data when an employee needs it to perform their task and revoke access as soon as the task has been accomplished.
Also, with the cloud, it’s possible to share one version of a single file with multiple people simultaneously, providing control while at the same time facilitating a more streamlined collaboration.
14- Preventing data loss
Storing your critical data in the cloud environment ensures that this data will always be available, even when your physical servers and endpoint devices are lost or damaged. You can easily perform data recovery from the cloud in different situations and continue operations.
In a traditional on-premises storage approach, all the critical data will be stored locally, which is not only vulnerable to situations like power outages and natural disasters but also to malicious cyber attacks like malware infection or data breaches.
By uploading your data to the cloud, it will always be accessible if there’s internet connectivity.
More businesses will adopt cloud computing and it is easy to see why!
By integrating cloud computing into their workflow, enterprises can improve themselves in many different aspects.
If you have any questions on how to effectively adopt the cloud for your business, or how to make the most of your cloud environment, contact us today to help you out with your performance and security needs.