Things you really should know about cloud computing by now

Are you harbouring one of the many misconceptions around cloud computing? Are you perhaps one of the many business professionals who still have questions that feel too embarrassing to ask? Let’s straighten out some of the key cloud facts!

What cloud computing means

As you may already know, cloud computing means using a set of remote, virtual, shared resources on demand. This gives you rapid access to computing power, storage and network services that can help you scale your operation up or down, depending on your requirements.

Virtualisation is what enables a cloud service to provide you with a cost-effective hardware infrastructure. Multiple virtual machines can run alongside each other on a single physical server, sharing the same hardware resources, which reduces the cost for hardware, data centre space, power and cooling – savings which can all be passed on to the business and its users.

So, now that we’ve got the basics out of the way it’s time to take a look at some of the more convoluted questions.

Does cloud computing save money for every business?

The question really isn’t if cloud computing can save you money, but how much it can save you – and if the cost for change can be justified by what you save. If you anticipate that the business will grow and expand, you may look at very significant savings as you scale up. If you expect to continue operating at the same level, you may want to measure the potential benefits differently.

To see how cloud can save money for your business, you would need a crystal clear understanding of the cloud-related expenses, such as hardware upgrades, outsourced IT consulting and monthly fees. Then compare those numbers to what it would cost to run the same level of computing power in-house.

Some of the biggest cost savings can be measured through having access to the very latest hardware and software without having to upgrade your entire infrastructure, and not having to recruit more IT staff to manage the operation.

However, a cloud transition is not without friction. There may be some aspects that can cause disruption to the business – such as cloud-based backup, for example. It’s worth considering if any of these challenges overshadow the benefits.

What does it mean to be “cloud-ready”?

Cloud readiness will look different for different businesses. The more complex your operations, the more groundwork will need to be done. For some organisations, cloud-readiness could be as simple as having an IT consultant come in and arrange an automatic backup process.

But for most businesses, being cloud-ready means having a clear view of how they want to manage the transition. You should plan the following:

  • Workloads – which applications and processes will migrate?
  • Priorities – which applications can be migrated and tested first?
  • Timelines – when is the best time to transition each application?
  • Upgrades – should systems be migrated only, or upgraded as well?
  • Training – what do staff members need to learn in order to use the new processes?

Does running on cloud mean 100% uptime?

Cloud providers typically can’t deliver guaranteed uptime. They may get close – some promise 99.99% – but it’s rare to find an offer of 100%. What’s important to remember here though is that while experiencing downtime is very rare, you should simply have a plan for how to handle the situation if it ever does occur.

Can my data disappear in the cloud?

Data loss can happen, regardless of where and how your systems run. When using a cloud provider, they will have a policy on what recovery measures they’ll take in the event of data loss. It’s important to discuss these strategies with the cloud provider before a data loss situation actually occurs, with examples of how they have previously recovered data.

The risk of losing data will also depend on how that data is being transmitted and stored. Encrypted data, for example, can be more difficult to recover if corrupted – but not impossible.

These are of course only a few of the questions that businesses face when discussing cloud computing, its benefits and drawbacks. But the most important issue to consider is how your business is equipped to handle the risks and opportunities of future technology. By taking advantage of the most cost-effective solutions available for your business, you will be able to compete and win in the marketplace.