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Cloud computing explained

What is the cloud? Cloud computing is a term that’s been floating around a lot these days, but bad jokes aside, it’s really got nothing to do with the weather.

Rather, it’s a way of storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet. While the origins of the term are relatively unclear, many believe that it stemmed from the fact that our data is stored online and not in physical form (the web being one big unknown cloud).

And it’s true – for many businesses, the cloud is still one big mystery. Research from the Australian Communications and Media Authority shows that 44% of small to medium enterprises actively use cloud computing, yet more than 20% do not know enough about what cloud computing services really are.

What types of cloud power exists?

Many may not know it, but they’re already using the cloud by way of web-based email, file sharing, web apps and social media like LinkedIn or Pinterest.

There are also cloud-based computing systems which allow businesses to host web, email or database servers, mobile applications and offsite backups. It’s great for connecting multiple remote offices together, such as a retail business with various stores across the country or employ people who work from home.

So what are the benefits of the cloud?

Cloud computing makes running your small business a lot easier because all the data is saved in a central online location and offers virtually unlimited storage that expands and contracts with your business needs.

For example, if your business gets burnt down by a fire or is broken into, your data will likely be compromised. But if you’ve backed up all this information in the cloud, your data will stay secure and safe – no matter what happens to your physical premises.

The cloud also lets geographically separate employees connect together and access the same data, on the road, in the office or from home. It’s a really handy thing when you have staff out on frequent site visits who want to check for status updates or send reports back to HQ, or simply if you employ home-based workers who need to get onto the same server as everyone else.

Another huge benefit is saving on IT costs – because you’re only paying for what you use and don’t pay each time cloud software is upgraded, you save heaps on your internal IT team.

Plus, some cloud applications allow you to collaborate better with staff or customers through web based meetings, instead of meeting in person or over the phone. Having the ability to share files and communicate almost instantly can allow staff to work anywhere, anytime and from any device.

What will the cloud be like in the future?

Weather forecast: Looks like a very cloudy day.

Cloud technology is here to stay and its uptake will only grow amongst small to medium businesses. Because it’s so affordable and simple to use, smaller firms can use the same tools as large companies without worrying about ongoing maintenance. This lets them focus on what’s most important to them – running their business.

Some of the trends that will emerge in the future are:

  • Cloud access from any device – Increasing usage of mobile devices means that businesses expect their information and apps to be available on any platform, anywhere.
  • Surge in BYOD movement – The Bring Your Own Device movement will only get stronger as people use their personal devices to access company systems and information.

We think the cloud is pretty cool. For more information on iiNet’s Business Cloud, just head to our website.

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