So you’re wondering what all the fuss about this ‘cloud’ thing is about. Chances are you’ve heard the term bandied around here and there, maybe you’ve even pretended you know what everyone is talking about to save face!
But what is cloud really? A ’round white fluffy thing’ is not the right answer, at least in the technology world!
The reality is we’ve been using cloud in one shape or another for many years now, it’s just in recent times the term ‘cloud’ itself has become more widely used (or misused!).
When did you start internet banking? Online shopping? Online gaming? Most of us have been doing these things for years, and the truth is that they are all forms of cloud services.
Cloud services are simply services we access that are located outside of our own environment, in a datacentre out on that crazy big network known as the Internet.
What makes cloud services attractive, is that they typically become ‘consumption-based’ expenditure. In other words, rather than paying thousands (or even tens of thousands) of dollars up front on hardware or software, customers pay for them on a month by month ‘pay-for-what-you-used’ basis. This turns what used to be a massive capital expenditure into small monthly chunks of operating expenditure – something accountant types like to see!
The two most common forms of cloud services are: Infrastructure as a Service and Software as a Service.
Infrastructure as a Service is an offering wherein a Cloud Provider has massive amounts of server computing resources in a datacentre, and these resources are chopped up into small pieces and sold as consumable services to customers that need a server to perform a function for them.
Software as a Service is where software providers take those resources and deploy software applications on them, then provide access to those applications to their customers via the internet. Good examples of SaaS are Office 365, Xero, and Salesforce.
These products provide ‘big-business’ features to businesses of any size, with the price scaling based on the number of users accessing the platform.
So is cloud for you? Maybe, maybe not! The way some businesses operate is perfectly suited to utilising cloud services, but others are not so much.
The key is to get the right advice that puts you on the path to getting the best outcome for your business, whether that’s using cloud or not will depend entirely from one business to another.
One thing is for sure, cloud is here to stay.