What is it?
The ‘Cloud’ is this instance is the internet. Since the very earliest microcomputers and then the PC’s; software has been stored and run on the desktop, and any data stored there as well. With cloud computing the software is run from a server somewhere on the Internet and your data is stored there also.
Whilst “Cloud Computing” might be something of a buzz-word – it has actually been around for some time. Web based mail services such as Hotmail are instances of cloud computing, and there are several online photographic services which will store your photographs, and allow you to organise them in albums, manipulate them and do basic photo editing.
What is new is that now there are mainstream services aimed at businesses. These include accountancy software, customer relationship management (CRM) or for corporate email and collaboration; such as Office 365 from Microsoft.
Benefits of Cloud Computing:
- Being a subscription service means that there are no upfront costs for software, or paying for upgrades every few years. You merely pay a regular fee (usually monthly)
- Scalability: As your workforce grows or contracts you can change the number of licenses (or seats)*.
- Reduced IT support costs, the service provider is responsible for ensuring that everything is working smoothly.
- Your workforce can access the service from anywhere using a standard web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox Safari etc.) This is useful if you have a dispersed or mobile workforce, or senior staff members need to check on things from home.
- Independent of devices. – the service is frequently accessible via a smart-phone or Tablet.
- If your PC should crash, you can keep working on a different machine.
*some providers may have a minimum contract terms or be less flexible in changing down. Microsoft bills monthly for the number of seats in use.
Find out about Office 365