Posted on: 27 April 2015
Ten years ago, if you’d told the average small business owner that to stay competitive they’d have to ‘do business in the cloud’, they’d likely have laughed nervously and wondered how they were going to pay for the aviation fuel.
Despite over 90% of organisations expected to be using cloud services by the end of 20151, many of their owners understand little more about it today than they did back then.
The difference is that today cloud computing is a hot topic in IT, whether you’re a multi-national corporation or a sole trader. There’s apparent pressure to adopt it, but this is equally matched with stories of data mismanagement, data loss and data fraud.
With help from Alex Hilton, CEO of the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF), and Dr Edgar Whitley, Associate Professor of Information Systems at LSE and author of ‘Moving to the cloud corporation’, let’s get to the bottom of what it is, why you should use it, and how to avoid the risks.
What is cloud computing?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the definition of cloud computing is “the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the internet to store, manage and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer”.
We think that’s a bit of a mouthful, so here’s a gentler description:
Cloud computing is a viable alternative to having lots of software on your office computers, an in-house server to store and share your data between members of staff and an IT team to manage it all. A third party provider, called a cloud service provider (CSP), maintains your company’s data, updates it and is tasked with keeping it secure.
The ‘cloud’ bit is the network of servers that use computer power to run applications, with businesses like yours choosing which applications you want to run.
But don’t go rushing off and throwing the software and data you use into the ether just yet. First you need to identify how cloud computing could work for and add value for your business. You’ll need to know the risks of cloud computing too and how to overcome them so that you can be sure it’s the right strategic decision for your business.
Find out more about cloud computing
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