By Colin Durrant, Managing Director, Midlands based Colins IT

So what is cloud computing? Should I be embracing it or sheltering from it? Whenever I’m faced with a question like this I always find it comforting to make a list of the pros and cons but before I do this let’s start with some basics. Cloud computing, in its simplest terms, enables you to store files and software remotely rather than on a hard drive or server in the office. You may not know it but you are probably using the cloud everyday in your life.

Services such as Gmail, Hotmail, Skype, YouTube, Vimeo and SoundCloud all operate in the Cloud. So if all these services are using the Cloud it should be safe shouldn’t it? OK, it’s nearly time for that list. It’s now possible for businesses to have their own private cloud which incorporates specific services and is only accessible to selected people. Sounds good doesn’t it? Let’s look at the Pros of Cloud Computing:

  • Employees can access data and files they need even when they are working remotely or outside of office hours.
  • Assuming they can get onto the internet employees can access information from home, in the car, from customer’s offices, and from their smart phone.
  • Employees can work collaboratively on files and documents even when they are not together. Documents can be viewed and edited at the same time from different locations.
  • Setting up cloud computing can be very quick and easy. If you think about how easy it is to set up a Gmail or Hotmail account and be up and running in comparison to installing software which can be time consuming.

Cloud computing can be cheaper – you don’t have to buy and install software because it’s already installed online remotely.
You don’t need loads of disk space. With cloud computing you subscribe to the software rather than own it which means it works a bit like pay as you go. You only pay for what you use and you can scale this up and down depending on your requirements.
Cloud computing can offer unlimited data storage because it is online. It is not restricted by server and hard drive limits and there are no issues with server upgrades etc. If you need more data you just up your subscription fee.

Sounds like a no-brainer so far doesn’t it? With all of the above benefits why wouldn’t I embrace the Cloud? Let’s have a look at some of the Cons of Cloud Computing. After all, every silver lining has a Cloud, if you pardon the pun!

With the Cloud you do not physically possess storage of your own data, leaving the control and responsibility of your data storage with your Cloud provider. So it could be seen that this is a leap of faith.

  • You could become completely dependent upon your cloud computing provider taking away your freedom to some extent.
  • Your business continuity and disaster recovery are in the hands of your provider. Do you trust them enough?
  • What happens with data migration issues should you want to change provider?
  • What happens if your cloud provider goes out of business?
  • Can your Cloud provider guarantee the security of your data?
  • Cloud servers can go down just like normal servers so how do I access my data if this happens?
  • Cloud computing is only as robust as your internet connection. If you are experiencing internet issues you won’t be able to access your data.

Hmmm, not so sure now. However, it’s still early days for Cloud Computing and as time progresses then some of these issues will get ironed out. The comedian Peter Kay once famously said about Garlic Bread…’s the future! The same can be said about Cloud Computing. It’s here to stay, it is the future and whatever size your business is, it’s time to start thinking if Cloud Computing is going to be the most cost effective and flexible solution for your future data needs

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