The Advantages of Cloud Computing
The advantages of cloud computing solutions are extremely varied. Cloud services increase scalability, optimise employee efficiency and improve IT security.
Unsurprisingly, as a result, more businesses are migrating to cloud computing services. With research predicting that by 2021, almost a quarter (24%) of IT spending will account for cloud services alone. That number has sharply risen and is expected to increase.
But what exactly is cloud computing and what are its main benefits for your business? We’ve compiled 7 key advantages of cloud computing so that you can make the right choice.
What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is a sweeping term for the delivery of hosting services via the internet.
This could include any software or application that provides online data storage such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Google Cloud Storage.
However, it also extends to servers, databases and networks – which some of the above examples also provide.
Cloud computing offers businesses multiple benefits. For instance, the ability to access data and use software from another device. As such, all files a user works on (and their settings) can be accessed seamlessly.
Of course, this is particularly useful for smaller companies who do not yet have a physical location. But also for larger companies with multiple office locations. As it can streamline processes and ensure consistency.
Cloud computing is not just about accessing files on different devices
In addition to better file access, there are multiple advantages of cloud computing. Cloud services enable users to check emails and store and access files. Whether they use a work computer or they work from home. This unlimited access means that companies can be flexible and offer remote working options to their staff.
For the average member of the public, users can utilise cloud computing to back up personal files, photos and music. For instance, Google Photos or Microsoft OneDrive can be set up on your phone to automatically store any photo you take. This is particularly useful if your mobile phone system crashes or if you lose or damage your device.
However, for companies, cloud computing has a myriad of additional benefits. The biggest of these is how cost-effective it is. In fact, before the advent of cloud computing, companies needed to purchase and maintain physical servers on premise. Or alternatively, in dedicated data centres. In fact, some companies pay fees to various outsourced software or service providers to do so for them.
Physical server and storage infrastructure is not easily scalable. It soon outgrows capacity and is costly to replace. Not to mention the frustration of losing money and time due to physical damage. For instance damage caused by unexpected disasters such as an office flood, electrical surge, fire, or eventual device failures.
Nowadays, as long as you have a fast internet connection, all tasks can be processed online by leveraging the cloud.
We’ll look at some more of the benefits in more detail later on. First, let’s look at the main differentiators between cloud computing and traditional infrastructure.
How Cloud Computing Differs From Traditional IT Infrastructure
Unlike traditional IT infrastructure such as a local storage device that contains physical hard drives, cloud computing is always accessible. Without the need for complex VPN’s or expensive security infrastructure. As long as you have an internet connection, all of your processes and data is stored, processed and available instantly online.
As illustrated above, cloud computing differs from traditional IT infrastructure as all the data is saved and processed on a remote, secure, and online virtual infrastructure. However that’s not the only way cloud based computing is different.
First, cloud computing is incredibly flexible. Some companies choose to rely on it entirely. In fact, there are now virtual companies that not only work remotely, but exist entirely online.
Even before Covid-19 affected the global workforce, many companies were already innovating and leading the way in remote work. For instance, one major player in the UK is multi-award winning virtual law firm, Keystone Law.
However, remote working is certainly not the only advantage of cloud computing. Another benefit is that any cloud user can access large amounts of data on demand. Whether they’re at home, off-site, in a business meeting with a client, or at the office.
And finally, there’s is less overhead. As the provider will manage all key aspects of the cloud service. It gives you and your IT support team one less thing to worry about. All a business or consumer needs is a device powerful enough to provide the necessary inputs and access to the internet.
Next, we’ll look in more detail at some of the main advantages of cloud computing.
7 Advantages of Cloud Computing
We touched upon some of these in a previous article ‘How Cloud Computing Differs From Traditional IT Infrastructure’. However, we thought we’d expand upon these and so have compiled 7 key advantages of cloud computing.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of cloud computing, especially for business owners, is that it can dramatically reduce costs.
Cloud computing resources and services can be altered depending on the business requirements at any given time. This means they can be increased or decreased accordingly.
Often, cloud based services operate on a pay-as-you-use basis. Which means businesses save money on unused capacity. In addition, this is incredibly cost effective if your business has occasional quiet periods.
Another example of the advantages of cloud computing is how flexible it allows businesses to be. The aforementioned advantage of being able to operate on a pay-as-you-use basis is one way cloud computing offers flexibility.
However, the ability to access data from anywhere in the world on any device that connects to the internet is another.
For instance, employees with the ability to access corporate or work-related data on mobile devices can work more efficiently. The use of portable devices such as smartphones and tablets means they can access data anywhere. It means they can be flexible too, with the ability to work freely, away from traditional 9-to-5 time constraints.
The option to work from home also reassures employees that their employers trust them to work productively from home. It can also have a positive impact on their mental health and wellbeing. And, it’s been proven that if you have a happy workforce that can work flexibly, it can improve business productivity immensely.
In fact, according to research by Eskenzi PR, 91% of employees would prefer to have the option to work remotely. So it enables your business to operate in a more accessible way.
In addition, cloud computing means data can be stored, processed, retrieved and recovered easily. Without the need to be physically in the office. It means data can be accessed while on the go, such as during off-site meetings with stakeholders.
Cloud based computing solutions are remarkably scalable. They can grow effortlessly and in-line with your business and its current needs. This infinite scalability and unlimited storage is great for companies that want to avoid upfront costs. It saves on large investments in hardware. Especially as hardware eventually becomes outdated or loses its value over time.
As your business grows, it will inevitably require more storage space. As well as the capacity to deal with extra site traffic or larger workloads. Therefore, cloud based servers can improve website speeds and ensure peak performance.
Cloud technology can be implemented with relative ease, and quickly too. Thus, the move from traditional IT infrastructure to a virtual environment can be a seamless transition.
Due to its adjustable scalability, cloud computing can accommodate any sudden changes in your business strategy too. It works in tandem with your business and can align to your goals in a way that traditional IT solutions can’t.
Benefits to Business Continuity
Naturally, a huge risk factor that many businesses often lose sleep over is data loss. Especially since the inception of the GDPR and UK Data Protection Act. But with cloud storage, business owners can spend less time worrying. As users have access to important information and data even if their device is faulty or inoperable.
As such, it’s ideal as a disaster recovery solution and prevents wide scale data loss. All data is retrievable. Even in the event of unexpected power outages or natural disasters like an office flood caused by a faulty air conditioning system.
As a result, this means there are no delays or disruptions to your day-to-day business operations. Thus, you can ensure peak business continuity and efficiency at all times. Even during office IT relocations or global pandemics such as we have experienced this year.
Cloud computing also leads to fewer data redundancy problems too. As it helps to avoid the issue of an identical pieces of data stored in multiple places. Of course, in some cases this is intentional but more often than not, it isn’t. Instead, these duplicates can lead to inconsistency or errors due to outdated or inaccurate information. Cloud systems can intelligently de-duplicate your entire dataset. Thus, they save on capacity, and thereby reduce costs.
As such, cloud computing ensures these errors are kept to a minimum or avoided altogether. However, when duplication is necessary that space is recouped for maximum efficiency.
Better for the Environment
Businesses that want to reduce their carbon footprint may find that cloud computing can help them achieve this goal.
This is due to virtual storage environments and online applications that use a pay-per-use subscription method. As a result, businesses only pay for what they use. As such, this means companies can effectively reduce workplace carbon emissions and consume less energy.
Cloud computing also reduces the need for physical hardware too. This results in less plastic and fewer mined materials that can devastate their local habitat and environment. Precious mined materials such as silica sand, bauxite, gold, hafnium and iron ore are essential components of IT infrastructure.
Of course, a remote team working on their own equipment with cloud based services can lessen this impact. But it also means reduced costs on IT equipment for businesses; ideal for small-and-medium sized businesses or start-ups.
Cloud computing provides businesses with the opportunity for improved collaboration between both individual employees and departments. As well as the opportunity to work in tandem on a single project effortlessly and efficiently.
It breaks down the barrier of communication that can occur with traditional IT solutions. Employees that work in different locations or time zones can all maintain access to the most up-to-date information.
As a result, this drastically improves collaboration. Therefore, it helps to increase productivity and in the case of some industries, can improve creativity.
For example, a creative agency may find that content or copywriting work can be edited in a more efficient way. In most cases, cloud based documents can be shared with clients. Giving them editing permissions to make comments, suggest amends and make edits directly.
Automatic Software Updates & Integration
Because cloud service providers afford businesses the ability to access data at all times, updates are automatic.
As a result, regular maintenance of cloud based servers is carried out, as are any security updates or patches. This reduces the need for security updates or regular server maintenance to be carried out in-house. Which frees up time and resources to spend elsewhere in your business.
Of course, another advantage of cloud computing is that it has automatic software integration too. Again, this reduces the time it can take to integrate software manually.
Cloud software and technology is easily customisable too, it means businesses can decide which services are most suitable.
In addition, cloud based services automatically refresh and update themselves. Naturally, this dramatically reduces the probability of human error.
For example, using a cloud based application such as Google Docs or Microsoft OneDrive with Office 365 can result in fewer calls to IT support. No more accidental lost files or deleted documents or employees who forget to save their progress. All work is saved automatically, which ultimately leads to less time wasted on common IT support issues.
In conclusion, these 7 key advantages of cloud computing demonstrate what can be achieved for businesses with cloud computing. Whether you’re an established company looking to take your processes online. Or a small start-up searching for a solution to scale up as your business grows; there are countless benefits.
From flexibility, scalability and cost to environmental impact and business continuity, the advantages of cloud computing can clearly be seen.
Cloud computing provides scalable access to IT services and resources. It allows you to store and access large amounts of data with ease. Of course, this is invaluable for smaller businesses with limited finances.
Not to mention, many companies are now opting to transition from traditional IT infrastructure to cloud computing. With 58% of companies currently adopting a hybrid cloud storage system.
This is a great approach for companies who want to gradually move from a traditional IT system to fully virtual one. It also means the transition can move at a pace you and your team are comfortable with.
It’s important to note that not all businesses will currently benefit from an entirely cloud based approach. Many prefer to maintain control over their servers and physical infrastructure. This in itself can be both a pro and con in terms of security.
However, due to the sudden increase of remote work becoming a necessity, a fully virtual cloud computing approach could be more viable for some.
Still unsure whether cloud computing is right for you?
If you’re unsure about which approach is right for your business, we can help. We offer IT consultancy services and IT auditing. So we can advise you on the best option for your business.
Why not get in contact with a member of our team today? We’ll help you unlock your business potential and boost your growth with the right cloud computing solution for you.