Working in the Cloud
Over the last few years there has been a rise in the amount of people and businesses using the cloud in order to carry out daily activities. However many people still dont understand what the cloud is and what it can be used for. There can also be confusion over which companies have the best and most cost effective solution for cloud based software.
What is the cloud?
In basic terms, the cloud is the internet. Its anything that you store and access over an internet connection. This can be things like your documents, photos, calendars and even your business accounts.
A more in depth explanation is your computer interacts with servers over the internet, these servers store all your information and then you access this information again via the internet. Its actually these servers that store all of the information on your calendar, all your photos and documents, even your emails are stored in this way.
The benefits of cloud computing over traditional computing include:
- You dont need to maintain your own server hardware
- Data storage can be more reliable with on-demand backups
- Its flexible - if you need more power or storage, you can usually just add it at a click of a button
- Cloud based software can be more up to date and doesnt always require installing anything on your own devices
How can your business utilise the cloud?
There are many well known cloud service providers, such as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services. The chances are, youve used more than one of these without realising. If you use Google Docs, or Google Calendar for example, this is all stored within the Google Cloud, and can be accessed from a number of devices and in a variety of ways.
Making use of the cloud can provide big benefits to your business, whether youre using them to power your own in-house software, or using it to store and backup data, the reliability and convenience of the cloud comes with its own advantages. However, theres a lot more to the cloud than just storage.
Some software packages are now offered as a cloud based version (known as Software as a Service or SaaS). You may have heard of software such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Office 365, and even our sister company QuickFile - all these are cloud based.
What is cloud based software?
Cloud based software is just that - its software based in the cloud. This is often seen as software packages you can access through a web browser such as Google Chrome, Internet Explorer / Edge, FireFox and others. But it can also be software or tools accessible through a mobile app that connects to services in the cloud. Dropbox is a good example of this, as you can access it through a web browser, a standalone application on a computer, and also an app on your phone or tablet.
Many software packages are producing cloud versions which helps businesses and individuals make the most of whats available, whether this be up-to-date features, security updates, or just availability.
How does this compare to traditional software?
If youre typing up a document on your desktop or laptop computer, chances are youre saving it to your own device, or to a network drive. If that network drive or your own devices hard drive fails, you could potentially lose your data.
With software such as Google Docs, it automatically saves and tracks your changes as you use it, so it not only knows what youve updated but it has the latest copy too. Plus, its easier to share with friends, colleagues, clients and others, with just a simple email address.
However, not all functionality of traditional software is yet available in the cloud. While they are very comprehensive, some users may find it more comfortable using traditional software.
At the end of the day, cloud computing is something thats still growing and many businesses are adopting the concept and integrating it into part of their organisation. Most cloud tools come with a free trial, so check them out and give them a go. You may find you function better with them.