So this Cloud computing thing – What’s it all about?

We are seeing more and more references to Cloud computing these days. It can mean any number of things, but we’ll look at what it means to us and how it can be applied to your business.

Cloud computing is commonly known as the sharing of resources, such as applications or services, via a decentralized network (typically the internet) known as a cloud.

CloudComputingA very obvious example of Cloud computing is something like GoogleApps. Everything you do is web based and the processing power and actual workings are taking place somewhere in the ether (cloud). The servers that provide the service provide the same or other services to other users in other parts of the world and by sharing these resources the cost of delivering the service tends to come down although this doesn’t necessarily make it cheaper.

So how can it fit in to your business?

Some of the main reasons to consider using cloud services these days are:

• Reduce your IT complexity
• Reduce costs
• Increase uptime and reliability
• Business continuity

Here at the Engine Room we use a small number of high quality cloud based services. These include Hosted Exchange, Cloud Backup, Office 365, VoIP and a number of web based systems.

The main types of scenario we find ourselves in is fully Cloud (using Office 365 and other services), or hybrid cloud where some services, such as file and print, is held internally on a server and others, email for example, are provided by a hosted Exchange provider. Which one is for you depends on a number of factors, but typically the distribution and number of users, volume of data and what line of business applications you run.

For the smaller business fully cloud based can make great sense as it removes the need for any complex technology on site, reduced hardware and software costs and lower overall system maintenance.

Cloud-ComputingFor larger businesses the case can be less persuasive for full cloud as your internet connection will be under a lot of pressure, and the cost of bigger connections can get quite serious, so hybrid tends to make more sense. Microsoft have stopped their Small Business Server suite of products (which included file, printing and email) so to replace this a mix of hosted email and local file and print makes sense as the licensing cost of the software for everything in-house can be quite substantial.

Cloud computing is here to stay and like Microsoft Office may ultimately be the only way to get the technology services we need.