Understanding Cloud Computing

Learn what cloud computing is, as well as benefits and drawbacks of including it in an IT strategy.

When talking about IT strategy, the term cloud computing can get thrown around a lot. It’s important to pause and make sure everyone involved in the decision-making process understands the basics of cloud options. Cloud computing is a disruptive technology, and having a working knowledge of it helps in making good strategic decisions.

What is cloud computing? Cloud computing is simply a way of saying that instead of data and programs being stored at the company’s physical location, they are accessible through the internet. Rather than storing information on proprietary hardware, data is stored in cyberspace, or in a data center.

What types of services are available through cloud computing? While many companies initiate their experiences with cloud options through software applications (Software as a Service, or SaaS), the solutions are constantly expanding. Companies are utilizing platform options (Platform as a Service, or PaaS) for DevOps and infrastructure (Infrastructure as a Service, or IaaS) for network connectivity, and there is also a broader approach referred to as Everything as a Service (XaaS).

Some enterprises take the XaaS approach because they recognize the benefits that come with cloud technology and want to apply it to every possible business process. There are currently ample opportunities for service providers wanting to offer options like managed services, security services, or even hiring out a CIO-level expert to smaller companies that cannot afford to have one in-house.

The benefits of cloud computing: Including cloud computing in a forward-thinking IT strategy is a wise choice, but companies should have a solid grasp on the total cost of ownership. While many benefits look appealing, there can be complications or certain legacy systems may not be appropriate for a move to the cloud. Some of the common benefits include:

  • Scalability: As a company grows, it is easy for users to be added as needed to a cloud solution.
  • Cost savings: Many enterprises realize extensive cost savings by removing the need for purchased hardware, reducing maintenance and the ability to categorize the investment as an operational expense versus capital expense. This is an area where expectations may not match results, so it’s good to understand how various components will affect costs, such as variable costs for data storage.
  • Agility: The lack of investment in hardware allows for easy transitions to other options, making cloud computing an attractive choice.

Companies considering cloud solutions should also be aware of potential drawbacks. For instance, a migration to the cloud may require an updated approach to security and IT personnel that are well-versed in areas like service level agreements. There may also be some challenges in areas like visibility and control when it comes to managing the infrastructure of a cloud solution.

If you’re looking for an unbiased expert to guide you through the technology selection process and lifecycle, you’ve come to the right place. Contact Compass Solutions to talk more in-depth about cloud computing options and choosing the right fit for any situation.

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