Business spent around $109 billion on cloud computing in 2012 and it is predicted that this will rise to around $207 billion by 2016. (Gartner) So what is driving business to move to the cloud? Put simply, its down to flexibility, efficiency and cost savings.

 

What is cloud computing? Basically, it uses the internet to allow users to access applications that would previously be stored physically on their PC or on a server somewhere in the building. Now they can be stored anywhere in the World Wide Web (cloud) and accessed through a web browser, on a iPAD, android phone, iphone, tablet or PC in an internet café.

 

This has enabled application developers to offer software as a service (SaaS) usually on a subscription basis rather than the user buying a product in a box and loading it directly on their PC.

 

So what benefits does cloud computing bring to the business user?

 

Flexibility

 

All you need to access a cloud computing application is a web browser, so they are available anytime anywhere. This is great for clients constantly on the move, or for those who want to work flexibly, for example from home on some days.

 

Software maintenance

 

All updates for applications are done centrally in the cloud, meaning the user does not have to download and install updates and patches. This saves the user time and also means that they are always on the latest version of software.

 

Backups and disaster recovery

 

Users of desk top based systems need to have plans in place to back their data up on a regular basis. Depending on what the data is this could be every day and may also require the backup to be stored of site just in case of a disaster. This all requires planning and administration. In the event of a disaster the user would have to find new hardware and restore all their data from the backup they had taken. For cloud computing users they simply log in to their application from a different PC/location.

 

Security

 

In 2012 there were 800,000 laptops left in airports alone, never mind railway stations or taxis or those stolen from cars or homes. When your data is in the cloud however, a user can be up and running again quickly and doesn’t have to worry about the loss of any confidential data.

 

Collaborative Working

 

Applications in the cloud are perfect for colleagues to be able to work on a document at the same time and share information. It makes document control so much easier and can result in the better coordination of the organisations activities, better use existing resources and can lead to significant financial gains.

 

Storage capacity

 

Storing information in the cloud gives you almost unlimited storage capacity. Hence, you no more need to worry about running out of storage space or increasing your current storage space availability.

 

Cost

 

Finally there is often a significant cost benefit for the cloud computing user. Cloud services are often subscription based so there is no large upfront expenditure required and ongoing costs are predictable. It’s unlikely that there will be costs for system upgrades, your energy costs may reduce and you will not have to find money for additional storage capacity.