Cloud computing happens when a local user is consuming resources that exist on a remote machine. It’s a service that is delivered over a network, most often over the internet, but a local intranet can serve the same purpose. It requires the end user to trust their data to the remote service, who has very little, if any, influence over that data.
Cloud computing was first received in a lukewarm manner. Some thought it would just be a passing fad. Others thought that the data would be insecure and third-party access would be ridiculously easy to achieve. As the industry has continued to grow and evolve, however, there have been a number of advantages seen by end users that have made it a very tempting option. There are certain disadvantages that must also be considered, so here is a look at the cloud computing pros and cons.
What Are the Pros of Cloud Computing?
1. It is very cost efficient.
Once cloud computing is initiated, the business no longer has the requirement to maintain a full IT infrastructure. Development and application implementation can all be handled remotely. The cost burden shifts to maintaining the cloud computing relationship instead of keeping expertise in-house. By leveraging the capabilities, even licensing and data storage costs can be reduced thanks to its elimination of capital expenses.
2. It is extremely convenient.
Cloud computing can happen wherever an end user happens to be when there is a public option. This makes a business more productive because data access is more convenient. Someone living in Singapore has the same access as someone living in New York City, as does someone living in London. Improved access creates improved collaboration and that ultimately allows for enhanced creativity.
3. Service uptimes are guaranteed.
One of the biggest frustrations that the modern business has today is a lack of data access. If the local network goes down and there is no data distribution happening, then the workers earning a paycheck are just sitting at their computers, twiddling their thumbs until the network becomes active again. Cloud computing agreements often have a guaranteed service uptime so that if it does go down, the business gets compensated in some way for that last productivity.
4. There is a simplified system of backup and recovery.
There is less of a risk of data loss with cloud computing because the information that is being used is instantly synced to the remote server. Even if a catastrophic failure were to occur, most businesses using this system would at-worst lose 1 day of data. There is no longer a need for tape backups and other information resources for the local network because the missing data can be downloaded remotely over the cloud when needed. Sometimes the cloud can even be the sole backup plan for a business.
5. It takes fewer overall resources to run in the cloud.
Cloud computing requires fewer resources in order to provide results that are similar to a local network. This means it is an environmentally friendly choice because it costs less energy to be involved with cloud computing than other methods of data distribution.
6. It is an entirely scalable system.
Cloud computing can be whatever size a business needs it to be. This makes it a viable option for every business type. Even the sole proprietorship structure can benefit from cloud computing because resources are scaled up or down based on whatever a company’s needs happen to be at any given day. This also means that only the resources that are needs are consumed and this adds another point of emphasis to the advantages already listed for cloud computing. Businesses can pick and choose what services they need and then everything is built into the chosen package and changed in an instant when needed.
7. Redundancies are easy to build.
Cloud computing also has an advantage when it comes to resiliency. It is very easy to build in a system of redundancies through third-party servers so that the architecture of the data distribution can be delivered as needed. Computing on the cloud also offers automatic fail-over between platforms with disaster recovery, further securing the data that has been entered so that productivity levels can stay where a business needs them to be.
8. Cloud computing is very easy to learn.
Many people don’t like change. They’ll resist it with every fiber of their being because they are used to their routine and don’t want to alter it. Cloud computing is a system that is very easy to learn because it is so similar to using local resources. This makes an entire business base more effective because the time to get up to speed is much less than in other data use and storage options that are available today.
9. It creates a bring your own device atmosphere.
Many businesses that change over to cloud computing find that their employees become much more productive, even voluntarily in their off hours. That is because cloud computing can be designed to work on virtually any device. This includes smartphones, tablets, and anything else that can connect to the internet. Instead of sitting for 15 minutes because a meeting is starting late, an employee can pull out their smartphone and still get some work done.
10. Most businesses will see a storage capacity increase.
Many businesses have sharp limitations on the amount of data that can be stored. This is especially true for small- to medium-sized businesses. Storing terabytes of data is costly, so data storage is naturally limited by budgetary restrictions. Cloud computing takes this all away and allows virtually unlimited storage for a fraction of the cost of what it would take to have the hardware and software to achieve the same benefits locally.
11. Most software can integrate automatically.
When local resources are being used, there must be a certain amount of time and cost dedicated to customizing hardware and software resources to meet a company’s unique needs. With cloud computing, software integration happens automatically so that options can be completely customized through hand-picked services and the initial setup. This saves a lot of time and energy.
12. Even old terminals can become effective data input and output solutions.
It doesn’t take much for a computer to access the cloud. As long as the processor speed is good and there’s enough RAM on-board to support decent speeds, a machine that is very cheap with limited storage and is very simple to run can still be used daily for productivity purposes. A Chromebook could become a versatile machine that could literally connect anywhere.
13. It’s really easy to sign up for cloud computing services.
A business can literally create a customized service solution in 15 minutes or less thanks to modern technology. In return, they can create a system where employees, contractors, and even freelancers can all communicate together pretty effectively and be able to collaborate when necessary to create a needed end result. Many are also vendor neutral so specific online accounts aren’t necessary to receive needed results.
What Are the Cons of Cloud Computing?
1. Security will always be a top concern.
The problem with cloud computing is that a business is basically just giving away their private data. By nature, this means confidential information is being shared to a third-party server. It becomes the responsibility of the cloud provider to maintain the integrity of that data so that a business can have their data properly protected. All it takes is one password leak for a data breach to occur.
2. It creates a system of dependency.
Businesses are forced to choose one basic provider for cloud computing and are essentially forced to maintain that relationship no matter what happens. This is because data migration from one provider to another further exposes the collected data to possible security breaches. Large data amounts can also be costly and cumbersome to transfer, which means the industry forces businesses to lock into long-term contracts that may be manipulated at the expense of the business later on.
3. Cloud computing is not 100% reliable.
To be fair, nothing is 100% reliable. Stuff happens and things break down. Cloud computing is no exception to the rule. The only problem is that businesses are stuck waiting for a service to come back online and have no control over how long that time may be. IX Webhosting customers had to wait 5 days in March 2014 to have their cloud computing resources restored. That’s potentially problematic.
4. Connectivity issues can create unanticipated down times.
Businesses that use cloud computing aren’t just relying on their third-party server provider for data access. They also have a 100% dependence on their ISP. If there are connection issues, outages, or other connectivity problems, then the entire setup for cloud computing is absolutely worthless. Even when connectivity to the internet isn’t a problem, a business has no control over where packets get sent, so it may take several minutes to connect to a server.
5. There is often a lack of features offered.
The main problem that a business faces with cloud computing involves the differences between local hosting and remote hosting. A third-party server is going to be using remote software in order to maintain data syncing. This takes times to happen because communication has to happen in real time over the internet. Many ISP plans have data upload rates that are 20% of their download rates. This creates a speed deficit that would never be able to beat local applications and software that are running.
6. Interdependency creates vulnerability.
Any cloud computing solution that has exposure to the public internet makes a business more vulnerable to ill intent. Even a VPN over the internet isn’t 100% secure, so a malicious hacker has the chance to access critical data. Every top cloud computing agency suffers security breaches and regular attacks that may create a data breach. The system also has an interdependency to it that means if one server gets breached, every other remote server can get breached as well and that creates the chance for a problematic data leak.
7. Cloud computing requires a business to change the way that it works.
Once the decision to begin cloud computing is made, then the business won’t be able to load their old programs that were being used. The operating systems for cloud computing are very different. This means a business can’t just go out shopping to find something that works for Windows 10 or the latest Apple O/S. It has to be something that works specifically with their chosen cloud provider.
8. Security software is often needed to protect data.
In order to prevent critical data loss, especially if social network sharing is involved with cloud computing, then there must usually be an investment into a complimentary security solution that provides a barrier against intrusion. This lessens the risk of having malware affect the data, viruses from being downloaded, and other common email threats can be minimized. Despite this, however, many cloud computing services recommend that data be encrypted so that data loss can be prevented and that’s a process that not every business completely understands.
9. It creates descent within the ranks sometimes that could potentially split a business in two.
In the past, many businesses were initially setup with certain divisions having their own IT resources. This often means that each department has their own email server, their own permissions, and their own workgroups. Cloud computing centralizes all of this to create one consistent system that can be controlled from the top down. Because this is often seen as a consolidation of power, it is not uncommon to see entire departments resist these efforts.
10. Uptime guarantees can be very expensive.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that 99% uptime is a good thing. It’s not. What it means in practical terms is that about 1 minute out of every 100 there will be downtime. That’s about 5 minutes of downtime that occurs over the course of an average working day for most businesses. Ask FedEx about what 5 minutes of downtime means to them. It costs them $1 million. Most businesses therefore invest into fractions of 9 after the 99% [i.e. 99.99%]. Having four 9’s after decimal point is pretty standard. Going to five 9’s could break the budget of a business.
11. It takes a lot of time to transition into cloud computing.
If someone is just starting their business, then cloud computing is no big deal. If, however, a company has been in business for a number of years and has decades of data to move, then the time to transition to cloud computing could be quite a lot. It is not uncommon for a transition to take 1-2 years to fully complete. This is why a business must be 100% committed to the process and have performed their due diligence on their preferred provider. Any second-guessing becomes a very costly proposition that could cost months of time.
Cloud Computing Can Be a Game Changer For the Business World
It allows small- and medium-sized businesses to compete on a large scale that would have been impossible before. It also allows large businesses to more effectively manage their data without the same need and cost of local resources. By evaluating these cloud computing pros and cons, it will become possible to choose which type of data management is right for every business.