Technology

Cloud Computing: A Look at its Benefits and Drawbacks

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Cloud computing or “the cloud” as it is often called is the delivery of computing resources that are on-demand such as applications and data centers over the internet. These services are usually provided on pay-for-use basis. This means that you only pay for the resources you use. The basic concept of the cloud is sharing of computer resources to handle computer applications such as storage and applications instead of using personal devices and local servers for such services. Through this sharing of resources, service providers are able to deliver efficient services cheaply thanks to the economies of scale they enjoy. Even though this concept has been around for a while, it is only in the past decade that individuals and enterprises have begun using cloud services widely. These services can be broadly categorized into three types as discussed here.

Cloud Computing

Types of the cloud

The cloud has three basic types: infrastructure as a service, software as a service and platform as a service. Here is a look at what each of these types entails.

Infrastructure as a Service

Abbreviated as IaaS, it is cloud’s foundation layer that includes services such as security, backup and storage. An example is Amazon Web Services.

Platform as a Service

Abbreviated as PaaS, its service providers offer users with a framework and a set of functions that they can use to customize and develop applications of their own. Examples of PaaS include Microsoft Azure and Google App Engine.

Sotware as a Service (SaaS)

These are internet-based softwares that users can rent for a specified period. It is the most common cloud service used in small offices. Some of SaaS examples are Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365.

Benefits of the cloud

The main reason cloud services have become very popular over the past decade is the numerous benefits they have for businesses of all sizes. Here is a look at some of these benefits.

Cost efficient

Compared to traditional desktop softwares, cloud computing costs much less to use, upgrade and maintain. Mid-sized and large companies often use a lot of money to buy, set up and maintain such softwares thus reducing their profits. The cloud helps businesses reduce such costs by allowing them have their storage and other needs catered for without having to set up on-premises infrastructure. This enables businesses save money that would have been used not only on setting up such infrastructure but also on associated operational costs such as power and administration of the data.

Backup and recovery

If you use the cloud to store your data, it is relatively easier to back it up and restore it than when using physical devices to store the data. Moreover, almost all cloud service providers usually handle information recovery on behalf of their clients. This makes backup and recovery process much simpler than the traditional data storage methods.

Ease of information access

As long as you have registered and stored your data in the cloud, it is very easy to access it from any place that has internet connection. This makes the technology far more convenient than traditional storage methods.

Automatic software integration

The cloud technology allows software integration to occur automatically. This eliminates the need for additional efforts needed for customization and integration of your applications.

Unlimited storage

Most cloud services offer storage capacities that are either unlimited or large enough to meet the storage needs of any company, regardless of its size. Using the cloud, therefore, frees you the worry of running out of space for storing your data and eliminates the need to constantly increase your storage space as your business grows bigger.

Draw backs of the cloud

As discussed above, there are many benefits of the cloud. However, the technology also has some draw backs. Here is a look at some of these draw backs.

Technical problems

Cloud technology is prone to technical problems such as outages. Even some of the best service providers usually have such problems. During such times of serious dysfunctions it becomes difficult to access your data even if there is internet connection. Moreover, sometimes access to your data can be hampered when there is poor internet connection.

Security

Most cloud service providers usually have multiple layers of security to make sure that no one accesses your data except those that are authorized to do so. However, not all providers are able to provide excellent security for your data. In addition data stored in the cloud, like all other data stored on the internet, is vulnerable to hack attacks. This potentially puts some of your company’s most sensitive data at risk.

There is no denying that the cloud has great benefits for businesses. However, it also has its drawbacks. To get the best of this wonderful technology, it is important that you understand all of these benefits and drawbacks so that when choosing a service provider to store your data, you go for one that will enable you enjoy all the benefits of the cloud while cushioning you from some of its drawbacks. It should also be remembered that cloud computing is still an evolving technology. As time passes, service providers are going to make changes to the technology so that they better address some of the weaknesses discussed above.

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