The new buzzword in IT is being dubbed ‘Cloud Computing.’ You probably can guess what it means, but you may not realize that you are actually using it now. As a principal at a multi-regional computer service company, it is my belief that Cloud Computing will be the next territory to be conquered in computer networking technologies.
As an example, think of Google. You go to their website and type in what you want to find. You don’t know where the server is located and you don’t care. As long as you get what you came for in an expedient manner, life is good. Most people never give it a second thought.
Cloud Computing has much to offer small business clients. Small business customers everywhere are beginning to have all of their business computer applications hosted in the cloud on highly redundant networks, giving them a much higher level of resiliency than they could afford on their own for less money than they spend now. Many hosting companies have spent a lot of money on infrastructure to ensure that customer applications do not go down. Cloud hosted applications include all major small business accounting solutions as well as standard desktop applications such as Word and Excel.
The benefits of a Cloud Computing based model over the traditional on-site server model are many. No longer will you need to invest in servers, firewalls and software and undergo expensive and time consuming projects. A low flat monthly fee is standard, and small businesses will enjoy additional enterprise class benefits as well:
Lower costs are built in because you don’t need in house or outsourced IT expertise.
Servers can be provisioned in hours instead of days or weeks.
No more capital investments in new hardware and software since it is included in the monthly fee.
Extremely easy to scale up and down as needed. Hiring more users? Your bill increases to reflect them. Cutting back? It decreases accordingly.
Built in network redundancies eliminate worries about power loss and weather contingencies.
A good robust network will be hosted in a government grade Tier 4, SAS 70 certified datacenter. This highest quality facility ensures uptime.
Electrical redundancy using multiple electrical power grids and multiple internet circuits provide 99.99999% uptime.
Full replication of services to second datacenter is commonplace (ask).
Daily backup to a SAN is typically included.
For email, fully hosted-in-the-cloud Exchange is available.
The Cloud Computing model will be highly attractive for most small and medium business customers, especially during their next upgrade cycle. Using a robust, online network means greatly reduced costs going forward, sometimes in excess of 50-60%. It also means better mobility, with the ability to work from anywhere with an internet connection. Of course, these abilities can be restricted as well.
Craig Davis is a prinicipal at computer networking company SLPowers. For more information on cloud computing or anything referenced herein, please visit SLPowers’ website at http://www.slpowers.com or their Hosted Microsoft Exchange email website at http://www.gnstratus.com