The Cloud is, at first, a foreboding place for small and medium businesses to venture. There is a lot buzz surrounding the increased productivity and efficiency in cloud computing and storage. There is an equal amount of talk concerning security of cloud services. In the information age, there is no question that all businesses should at least consider moving to the cloud. The real question is what kind of cloud? On the most macro level, clouds can be divided into two types: Private and Public. Each have their own unique qualities.
Private clouds are those that built in-house. This cloud allows companies to shift workloads from server to server and disseminate new applications quickly. The biggest concern to a business thinking about building a cloud of their own is whether or not they have the IT support to create or even maintain one. If they can’t, the situation becomes more complicated. Do they expand their IT department or hire an outside firm to do it for them? In some situations, this is unavoidable such as in the pharmaceutical industry which has to comply with strict regulations concerning their data. But if you’re not a giant pharmaceutical company, a public cloud service may be the way to go.
A decade ago, people would say that we lived in the oil age. Now, it seems like we are living in the information age. A report done by analysts at Ovum show that IT services will grow 4.5 percent by 2013, impressive considering the state of the global economy. Companies survive and adapt based on the data at hand. Backing up that data is essential. In days long past, companies had to pay for dedicated storage. It was expensive and inefficient. Today, companies can just sync with an offsite cloud server. The data can flow and ebb as demand dictates without any fear of unused capacity or running out of space . This is important for keeping costs down. However, the issue of security does come up. The solution is simple, just as you would with storing your physical possessions, you need to find a reputable cloud host service. Find a company that is willing to comply to your specific security needs. Look into their past and see if they’ve had any breeches or unethical activity. It’ll become apparent that most cloud hosts are secure and on the level.
Perhaps neither private nor public clouds seem that appealing. That’s the sector that the hybrid hopes to fill. Microsoft recently announced that its Office 365 service will be creating a government-only cloud. This cloud was built to allow government agencies to share data with each other but not the general public. It’s not a huge leap to imagine hybrid clouds being the favored tool in a B2B setting. Companies in partnerships could share information with each other while being shielded from unwanted eyes. This would combine many of the security features of a private cloud while providing the ease of collaboration of a public cloud.
The cloud computing and storage landscape is in a state of flux. We may see public, private or even hybrid clouds become the standard. What is clear though, is that the cloud is here to stay. Companies that adopt this paradigm will have a leg up on their competitors, so they better get their head in the clouds.