The proliferation of cloud-based storage in the way we do business and personal computing is at an all-time high. This unprecedented growth is expected to continue well into the future, having a big effect on how we run our businesses and our lives.

So what’s all the hype about? Where is it, and what exactly does it involve? In layman’s terms, cloud-based storage involves the access and storage of data and programs over the Internet instead of a computer’s hard drive. Essentially, the cloud is simply a metaphor for the Internet. Cloud computing is not a single fragment of technology—it’s a system primarily composed of three services: infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), software-as-a-service (SaaS), and platform-as-a-service (PaaS). Apprenda offers a good discussion on the distinction between the three if you’re interested in the specifics.

You are likely using the cloud fairly regularly, even if you don’t know it. With cloud computing services, we check our email on different devices and store files with access from anywhere using services like Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive. Cloudwards recently published a good review of the benefits and distinction between these “big three” services.

So what are the cloud computing advantages and disadvantages? First, we’ll look at the pros of cloud-based storage, and then we’ll look at the cons.

8 big advantages of cloud-based storage.

From a business standpoint, cloud-based storage offers a wealth of advantages. These include increased production from employees, big savings on upfront and ongoing costs, improved customer satisfaction, increased partnership opportunities, a sharper competitive edge, technological capabilities, scalability, and disaster resistance. 

2. Big savings. With no need for up-front spending for expensive equipment and maintaining an in-house IT infrastructure (think personnel, power, space provision, hardware, software upgrades and licenses), companies can save big—and, importantly, put those savings back into the business.

3. Improved customer satisfaction. With the immediate access to data and information that customers now have at their fingertips, businesses large and small are experiencing improved customer satisfaction and increased competitive advantage.

4. Growth of partnership and M&A opportunities. Cloud platforms facilitate smoother transactions regarding business deals, partnering, and M&A activity.

4. Growth of partnership and M&A opportunities. Cloud platforms facilitate smoother transactions regarding business deals, partnering, and M&A activity.

5. Competitive Edge. Cloud computing advantages also include easy access to resources. The cloud offer scompanies the ability to deploy mission-critical applications that can deliver significant business results, offering a competitive edge over the competition.

7. Scalability. As business needs increase or change, a company’s systems and software need to be able to react quickly. In the cloud, a company can install any software or infrastructure when and as it’s needed. This type of flexibility can help a business to save money and provide new opportunities for growth.

8. Disaster resistance. We don’t always think of it, but disasters do occur. In the event of fire or other types of threats, the cloud can protect a company’s crucial data.

8. Disaster resistance. We don’t always think of it, but disasters do occur. In the event of fire or other types of threats, the cloud can protect a company’s crucial data.

3 cloud computing disadvantages to think about.

While the pros outweigh the cons, there are also several disadvantages of the cloud that can affect businesses and individuals. These merit consideration while evaluating what’s right for you and your enterprise. They include possible issues with security and privacy, loss of data, and the risk of outages.

1. Security and privacy. Every component placed into the cloud is potentially accessible from the Internet, which, of course, means increased vulnerability to external hackers and other breachesIt’s important for businesses and individuals to take every precautionary measure possible in order to proactively protect sensitive information.

2. Loss of Data. Many reputable cloud service providers offer top-tier protection from data loss; however, there are still instances where it can happen due to human or other error. Which makes a good case for backing up data physically before working on it in the cloud.

3. Risk of outages. With cloud service providers handling many clients, they can become flooded, and this can cause technical outages, which can result in the temporary suspension of your business or personal processes. If your Internet service provider goes down, your processes go down. The good news is that generally speaking, users experience less downtime from service providers than they have in the past. However, downtime is downtime, and it still does occur—but it’s important to remember that it occurs in-house as well.

A bright future in the cloud.

Given the scope and advantages of the cloud, there are thousands of pioneers in IaaS, SaaS, PaaS, cloud-based data, and other key emerging enterprise technologies vying for the biggest space in the sky. Companies like Amazon, Google, HP, IBM, Pivotal, and Salesforce come to mind when we think of the pacesetters. But who are the other frontrunners that we need to keep an eye on as we look to the future of cloud? The Forbes Cloud 100, considered the definitive ranking of the top 100 cloud companies in the world, released its 2017 list that includes an impressive roster of leading organizations from across the globe.

Cloud computing has come a long way, and the future is looking very bright as the cloud continues to innovate, allowing us to work even faster and more efficiently than we do today. Businesses and individuals will want to stay tuned to the trends and developments in the world of cloud computing in order to remain competitive and continue doing the most that we can with our technological resources.  

Featured image: Composite with CC 0 AllClear55 via Pixabay ; CC0 PCDazero via Pixabay.

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