Cloud computing: A beginner's guide
Does the phrase 'cloud computing' inspire visions of
hacking away at a keyboard while balancing on a cumulus nimbus? If
so, here's the ultimate beginner's guide to the cloud and why this
technology is relevant to your business.
We are in the full throes of the 'Information Age'. A company
without an adequate information technology infrastructure will
almost certainly be left behind, as speed, efficiency and
communication are the building blocks of business success.
IT is, effectively, the superconductive glue that holds modern
business together. It allows for a new field of business known as
knowledge management, which, like a synthetic brain ensures that
the right information, or "knowledge," gets to the right people in
the right places at the right times, with few delays.
The advent of cloud computing is a further example of how
information technology best practices radically innovate the way
business is done. Depending on whether you choose to use a public
cloud or a private cloud, you can either have all of your business'
computing resources located on an off-site server (if you use a
public, or outsourced cloud), or all the computing resources are
located in one massive server at the heart of an office (if you use
a private cloud).
Whether it's public or private, the server creates "virtual"
machines which it sends to different terminals around your office
for users to work on.
"Cloud computing" comes from the fact that the new information
network, once a decentralized web of nodes, is now a single entity,
or cloud, from which every point draws its sustenance.
Save money with the Cloud
Cloud computing drastically cuts computing costs, including
those related to maintenance and tech support, because there are
far fewer machines that need to be serviced. A single IT management
professional can monitor all of the machines from one location, as
the "machines" are just programs on the network. They are virtual
constructs of memory, processing power and hard drive space stored
on the central server and "served" to office workers and
Working within the cloud also makes it easier to foster
collaborative projects in the workplace, as the same programs can
be installed on every computer with the click of a button. Virtual
machines are already stored on the same drive, so it is easy to
create programs that allow different virtual machines to work on
projects together. This makes it easier to hire freelance workers
for collaboration efforts, saving money on health benefits while
maintaining stellar productivity.
Security in the Cloud
As e-commerce grows in importance throughout the business
community, many managers find that cloud computing lets their
company engage with customers as a unified brand rather than as a
bunch of disparate technicians or workers. In addition, cloud
computing is great for keeping networks safe from malicious
programs that populate the Internet of today. Antivirus, firewall
and other security programs need only be installed on one machine -
the server. If a security risk is detected, it is easy for the IT
professional to shut down an entire machine without having to leave
Cloud computing is undoubtedly the wave of the future for
business information technology. Improvements in efficiency,
security and collaboration have cemented its place as the cutting
edge of IT, at least until the next big breakthrough comes along.
Undoubtedly, that will be sooner than we think.
Amy Greenacre writes on behalf of ITHound.com,
business technology article library; for the latest cloud computing white paper
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