In our last article we introduced the cloud and explored some of the myths that business owners have had about cloud computing. Much of the apprehension around it is misplaced, but we also stressed that choosing a dedicated provider that offers genuine post-sale support is important, as not all providers are serving equally, even if they offer the same service.
In this piece we clear up some of the jargon that professionals use when they are referring to the cloud. After reading this, you will be savvy with cloud language, enabling you to navigate cloud solutions and to understand the value they can offer to your business.
Explaining Cloud Terminology
Your applications are running on an underlying infrastructure that stores, computes and allocates resources to them, whether it is on-premises, cloud-based, or a mixture of the two.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service is a type of cloud computing framework which provides computer resources over the internet. Upon contracting an IaaS provider, they will supply and manage the infrastructure where your software will be hosted on a subscription basis; enabling a scalable, flexible and precise infrastructure solution for your apps.
Infrastructure as a service is a complex service. Depending on your technical literacy, it is often best to involve a team of IT professionals to help you to plan, implement and maintain the infrastructure so that it runs like clockwork for your business. With expert help, you can smoothly leverage cloud infrastructure to deliver enhanced value and scale securely.
Software as a Service delivers software services and data over an internet connection and web browser. Your provider will take full management and responsibility of both the security and back-up of your data, all within your agreed price.
SaaS is certainly the most popular choice of Cloud service – some of the most popular SaaS offerings include Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, and Xero Accounting amongst thousands of others. These services are also becoming more integrable, enabling more customised and streamlined workflows for businesses.
SaaS takes the stress and arduous process of managing your software and hardware out of your hands, leaving it in the capable hands of your provider’s expert team. For non-technical business leaders seeking to leverage technology and gain a competitive edge, SaaS is something of a godsend, as it takes the complexity out of managing and maintaining software away from the service user.
A Cloud Application is a software that you can access from any device that is connected to the internet, instead of installing it on each computer individually.
Compared to saving data on a physical hard drive on your computer, cloud storage is when you save your data to the cloud, where it is stored on remote servers and can be accessed directly from there. This essentially means that you store the data physically elsewhere in a secure data warehouse, but you no longer need to manage the physical infrastructure (I.e. on-premises servers) for doing so.
This takes us back to the point we made at the start of our first article, remote working is made possible with the cloud and cloud storage. Both your office and remote teams have seamless access to all the data that they need to fulfil their roles more efficiently and seamlessly.
This is the process of creating a virtual representation, or virtual replica, of a physical resource, such as a server, storage device, or network. These are called virtual machines.
Virtual machines behave like the physical resources they are based on; except they can now run multiple operating systems and applications at once. Imagine a computer being able to be broken down into mini virtual versions of itself and being able to operate across multiple physical computers (or in this case, servers) at once. This unlocks a great deal of flexibility and scalability for businesses, as virtualisation enables the consolidation and optimisation of hardware resources via cloud infrastructure.
For the final part of this article, we’ll highlight some of the benefits of using cloud technology in your business.
The benefits of the Cloud to your Business
The cloud enables the ability for businesses to work flexibly with remote working capabilities. This ability allows teams to work together across different distances and times coherently and seamlessly. The cloud has unlocked the ability for businesses to tap into talent across the globe and to form teams from a range of geographic locations.
Operationally, teams can work on documents in real time, see version histories, including who is responsible for changes, as well as easily communicate via calls, video chats and messaging functionality. For developers and a business’s application infrastructure, the cloud liberates more scalable capacity for developing, deploying and hosting apps.
In all, the cloud achieves the kind of collaboration that can be found in the office, with some additional benefits too such as the potential for enhanced focus. This said, the cloud is not a granted collaboration paradise; it also takes an organised and responsible approach to get the best from cloud collaboration technology.
Backup and Business continuity
As much as we try to avoid them, disasters do happen, and they can be business defining. You need to have an efficient way of accessing all of your vital business data rapidly should the worst happen, and the cloud offers exactly that. The cloud allows you to continue with business-as-usual even in unusual circumstances. If a business experiences a disaster or emergency, such as a gas leak, flood, or fire for instance, they would be able to continue working from other locations with an internet connection, access the cloud, and resume operations.
A chief benefit to cloud computing is how flexible and scalable cloud solutions are, which often offer greater cost-efficiency as well. Whether a business is hosting its applications or servers in the cloud, or leverages SaaS solutions in its workflows, or uses VoIP technology, these can all be scaled easily and seamlessly to meet demand as the business scales up or down.
Compared to traditional forms of IT, the initial capital investment into cloud computing is far lower than it was in the past. Businesses using cloud solutions get much closer to paying only for what they are using, as cloud resources are scalable, precise and flexible in their nature. For businesses seeking to get more value at a relatively lower cost, cloud technology is a great leverage point to invest in.
We Are 4TC Managed IT Services
4TC can support you with all the services you need to run your business effectively, from email and domain hosting to fully managing your whole IT infrastructure.
Setting up a great IT infrastructure is just the first step. Keeping it up to date, safe and performing at its peak requires consistent attention.
We can act as either your IT department or to supplement an existing IT department. We pride ourselves in developing long term relationships that add value to your business with high quality managed support, expert strategic advice, and professional project management.