Keep Your Head (and Data) in the Cloud
on Apr 25
The Cloud. You’ve probably heard this term thrown around your office. It is one of the biggest buzzwords in the telecom world but not entirely understood by today’s consumers. According to a recent US survey, 30% of Americans still believe it involves a real cloud in the process. People think their data is stored somewhere beyond their understanding, but this “somewhere” - a network of online servers - is easily available and accessed by users on a daily basis. Popular applications such as Google Drive, Google Mail, Apple iCloud, Spotify, Netflix, and Dropbox are popular cloud services used by millions of people on any given day.
Many businesses, regardless of size or industry, migrated to cloud services and enjoyed lower operational costs, increased productivity, and a better peace of mind with their data. According to LogicMonitor’s Cloud Vision study, over 80% of companies’ workload will be cloud-based by 2020, and this trend will continue for the next few years as technology improves and offers more cloud-based options for business operations. Before we highlight the advantages of cloud computing, let’s dig deep into what the platform actually does.
What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is the delivery of computing services over an internet-based connection. Instead of businesses buying expensive computing infrastructure or data centers, businesses can now rent access (via subscription or one-time fee) to cloud applications from a third-party provider. Using a cloud service is like leasing an apartment vs. owning a home. You pay a fixed fee to rent a space for your items, and the owner of the space is responsible for any updates or maintenance. Contrary to popular belief, the cloud is not an acronym that means anything. It started as a figure of speech when engineers noticed that remote networks drawn on paper always resulted in a cloud shape. But where exactly did the cloud come from?
The beginnings of cloud computing started over 60 years ago before anyone imagined having a personal computer in their own home. In the 1950s, commercial computers were the size of a one-bedroom apartment in Honolulu and cost businesses a fortune to rent. Computer service bureaus were created to allow multiple businesses to share a central computer. They would schedule two or more people at a time via dumb terminals to access the mainframe. These terminals included hosted applications and certain protocols to improve the user experience, which are very similar to ones used for today’s cloud servers.
By the 1990s, these 'time-sharing' services were overtaken by the rise of the PC and made owning a computer much more affordable. This trend in personal computers led to the rise of corporate data centers where companies would store vast amounts of data for security purposes. Telecom companies also offered virtual private networks (VPNs) that allowed companies to access servers remotely without spending a fortune on infrastructure. In 1999, Salesforce.com launched a website that allowed companies to access their applications online for the first time. Then Amazon provided a breakthrough in cloud computing with the launch of Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2002. Originally an effort to clean up Amazon’s Merchant.com service, they created a shared infrastructure that provided services such as storage and computation. They launched the system in 2006 as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud to the public and now provide over 70 cloud services to over one million customers.
In 2009, Google launched its 100% online application system, which includes G-mail, Google Drive, Docs, Calendar, Sheets, and Slides. These applications assured businesses that cloud services were stable, reliable, and offered a wide range of tools to business productivity. Now, cloud computing is a key component for companies to function successfully and can’t imagine living without it. It's now so popular that many vendors offer different cloud services for business operations that help with data backup, file storage, cloud-based telephony, and much more.
Types of Cloud Services
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Also known as cloud application services, this is the most common cloud service that businesses use. SaaS relies on the web to provide applications to users managed entirely by third-party vendors. Most of these applications run through a web browser and don’t need users to download or install any software. These vendors deal with all issues such as data, servers, and storage, which makes support easier for businesses. Examples of SaaS include Google Apps, GoToMeeting, and Salesforce, all popular applications that businesses use worldwide.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Platform as a service (referred to as PaaS) is a cloud model that provides a platform for developers to build their own applications and services on the web. Third-party vendors host services on a cloud server, and users can access them through a web browser. Third-party vendors only manage the cloud server and hardware, while users manage their applications. Many businesses use this platform to create their own custom applications and reduce costs. It also saves developers the headache of maintaining the software when creating their apps. Examples of PaaS include Windows Azure, OpenShift, and AWS Elastic Beanstalk.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
Known as cloud infrastructure services, a cloud provider hosts the infrastructure that is usually present in an on-site data center such as servers and hardware. It is fully self-service and provides users access and maintenance for computers, networks, and storage through virtualization technology. Access to the infrastructure is available via dashboard or API, and users have control over the entire infrastructure. Users manage their own applications and data, but IaaS maintain the servers, networks, and storage. No matter the size of the company, it purchases resources when needed and scalable for any business changes. Examples of IaaS include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Compute Engine (GCE), and Cisco Metapod.
According to 2018 IDG Cloud Computing Study, over 77% of businesses use one or more of these cloud services to benefit their operations, and many committed to becoming 100% cloud-based in the next few years. So why are so many companies suddenly moving to the cloud?
Benefits of Cloud Computing
1. Lower Costs
Unlike traditional systems, no expensive hardware needs to be purchased and businesses never need to rely on data centers. They don’t need to spend money on facilities, utilities, hardware, and other operation costs associated with traditional data storage. There’s no need for internal IT teams to handle your infrastructure since vendors already have staff to assist with their needs. Businesses only need to pay for what they need with a flexible cost structure and can upgrade or downgrade their service costs anytime.
2. Data Security
One of the largest concerns for cloud computing is data security. Any cybercrime can affect a business’s services and reputation. When files, programs, and other crucial data aren't kept on-site, how do businesses know it’s secure in the cloud? For cloud providers, security is their first priority. They know that any data breach is their fault, so they store all their data securely in their servers with constant 24/7 monitoring. Every cloud server implements a protection system that includes authentication or encryption, and different security settings are available for each user that has access to business data.
3. Fast Recovery
While businesses believe their data is secure in their on-site computers, their valuable data is prone to theft and hardware malfunctions because of user error, deterioration, and viral infections. Cloud servers makes sure all your info is safe and always accessible with an internet connection. Unfortunately, sometimes data loss is out of a business’s control. Disasters and power outages, no matter how much you prepare, can affect your business’s data and operations. Cloud services keeps your data secure during any emergency and offers a quick recovery time when needed.
Every company, small or large, has a need for IT services but it’s always difficult to address them. With all the other business responsibilities, owners and employees don’t have the time to deal with internal computer or data issues. They only distract businesses from achieving their own goals and improving customer satisfaction. Cloud computing empowers your business and allows it to meet customer demands without being dragged down by the usual IT maintenance and related activities. It offers a great solution to this issue because it provides the option for a third-party to take care of all IT needs for a business. If a company needs to scale up, cloud services can increase their capacity quickly and efficiently with no physical infrastructure.
Never worry about being in an office again. Cloud computing makes it easy for users to access files anytime and anywhere, in any part of the world, as long as they are connected to the internet. Any data in the cloud is stored or recovered in just a few clicks, and are available on any web device including computers, notebooks, and mobile devices. Employees who travel frequently or work remotely have instant access to data and can stay up-to-date with other team members and customers.
6. Automatic Updates
No business has enough time to wait around for manual system updates and installations. Good news is cloud-based applications automatically update themselves with very little wait time. Cloud service providers also offer regular system and security updates to meet IT and security requirements - freeing up lots of time and money businesses would spend doing these updates themselves.
7. Better Collaboration
Businesses, especially larger ones, have team members working in separate offices or possibly different countries. Cloud services eases the collaboration process because team members can communicate, view files, and share data in one place. For larger projects, team members never have to track down the latest document version or worry about sending large files. Cloud servers provide lots of room for file storage that is updated with the newest version for easy viewing from any team member. Brainstorming sessions are also better and faster than ever with cloud-based collaboration. Many cloud platforms offer a virtual space where team members and project managers can share ideas via instant messages or video conferences. Employees now have more opportunities to have a say in their businesses and create positive relationships with their managers and coworkers.
8. Software Integration
Business with existing programs can integrate their software into a cloud-based system. This eliminates the need for businesses to manually integrate their software. They can customize all software or services on a cloud platform, and businesses can pick what they need for their operations. Any software can also be removed when needed.
9. Competitive Advantage
Cloud computing is a vital organ for businesses that helps them stay above the competition by providing crucial customer and service insights that can be used to determine obstacles, achieve business goals and provide a quick turnaround for launching new services and products. All the time saved from IT maintenance and updates in a cloud-based platform goes towards business improvement, and all services and operations can be integrated into one platform for easy viewing.
10. Environmentally Friendly
Want to do more for the planet than the typical office recycle bin? Reduce your business’s carbon footprint by virtualizing your services. Cloud services offer a wasteless option for businesses and eliminates the need for paper products and physical hardware. This reduction in products leads to cheaper utilities and more energy efficiency. Since businesses access cloud services from anywhere with an internet connection, they also reduce carbon emissions related to commuting for employees.
Cloud computing is a revolutionary platform that's affordable and accessible than ever before for businesses. It offers a multitude of benefits to help streamlines operation, enhance productivity, and secure sensitive data, and it's available right here in Hawaii. Already known for its seamless VoIP and high speed fiber internet, Servpac offers businesses a single vendor solution to migrate all of their existing services into a local cloud server. You can always access your data with a dedicated fiber connection secure with HIPAA, SSAE 18, and SOC 2 compliance with guaranteed backup on-site and off-site. Let your business grow with no hardware to manage and have Servpac take care of maintenance and updates. We always monitor our cloud server and offer free customer support from our local engineers with less than 24 hour response time. Say goodbye to all your IT troubles and request a free consultation from one of our experts today.
Servpac is a Hawaii-based telecommunications company providing innovative and integrated telephone, internet, and cloud solutions for Hawaii businesses since 2004. The company is the largest locally based CLEC (competitive local exchange carrier) in the state and provides 24/7 local support for island businesses to help them compete in the global marketplace.