The cloud has become a major computing buzzword in the past five years, but when you strip away the jargon the concept is a simple one. Computing resources and IT solutions can be situated in-house, or they can live on servers and users can connect to them via the internet. The latter is the cloud.
In a sense, then, the cloud is simply a return to an older model of computing, where resources are located off-site. What makes it different from the mainframe model of the past is that the internet has increased the power available to end users, and has opened up availability.
The barriers that remain are largely psychological - some business owners may be bewildered by the sheer range of cloud-based services to choose from, and others find the complexity confusing.
The idea of complexity can be put to bed. The cloud comes in three basic varieties: public, private and hybrid.
The public cloud is simple. Shared services are accessed over the public internet, as is the case with, for instance, well-known services like Dropbox, Office 365 and Salesforce.
A private cloud is a custom installation of software, running on a server but solely for the use of the subscribing customer.
Hybrid cloud is a mixture of some use of cloud services along with traditional on-premise IT services.
A Secure Cloud?
When the cloud first appeared one of the biggest concerns was security. Today more and more enterprises - from the smallest business right up to major multinationals - are turning to the cloud to safeguard their information security.
So What Happened?
It’s simple, really. SMEs in particular often lack in-house IT resources, and those that have them are often stretched thin. In addition, security has become a real challenge and traditional antivirus software can no longer deal with the kinds of sophisticated threats out there, such as so-called ‘zero-day’ attacks in which the code can’t be identified by virus scanners.
By going to the cloud for security, SMEs are able to ensure that their systems and networks are protected 24/7 without having to deal with the ever-changing threat in-house. In addition, it allows them to share in the hardware and software infrastructure that hitherto was only available to massive organisations such as government departments and large businesses.
Moving to a Cloud Service Model
Large business, meanwhile, is also moving to the cloud in order to free-up its in-house IT resources to work on strategic planning and product development.
The message is getting out there, too. A 2016 study by Intuit found that 64% of SMEs across the UK, Canada, Australia, and the US now run their operations in the cloud, up from just 37% in 2015.
Disaster recovery specialist Databarracks has predicted that 2016 will see more SMEs move towards cloud services precisely to relieve the growing headache of managing information security in-house.
Given that the moving information security to cloud means no more managing servers and complex software in-house, this is no surprise.