Top 5 Advantages of Cloud Computing


Published under Software by Hardeep Mehta on August 10, 2017


Introduction

Cloud computing has become a term that is used on a regular basis. It's easy-to-use implementations and customizable features have made it a key piece in long-term business processes and transformations. It is such a widely used technological concept, that companies are provisioning their budgets to include cloud products over traditional IT infrastructure. According to IDC, worldwide spending on public cloud services and infrastructure will reach $122.5 billion in 2017, an increase of 24.4% over 2016. Cloud service usage is growing at an exponential rate, with millions of users to back.

With all of the buildup aside, do we really understand the key benefits of cloud? Think about what you or your company may use on a regular basis. Do you utilize Amazon Web Services (AWS) for server instances? Do you have G Suite by Google Cloud at work? You may not fully comprehend the business decisions that have gone into applying these.

With all of the buildup aside, do we really understand the key benefits of cloud? Think about what you or your company may use on a regular basis. Do you utilize Amazon Web Services (AWS) for server instances? Do you have G Suite by Google Cloud at work? You may not fully comprehend the business decisions that have gone into applying these.

In this post, we will discuss the 5 major advantages of cloud computing, as well as some considerations when deciding on cloud products. We will also talk about three different kinds of cloud and their use cases.

Advantages of Cloud Computing

Advantage #1 - Lower IT Infrastructure Costs

One of the biggest advantages of implementing a cloud service is the cost savings involved with IT infrastructure. There are far less operational costs with a cloud service as compared to traditional, on-premise infrastructure.

Typical items associated with on-premise infrastructure are servers, operating systems, licensing fees, and network switches. There is also the cost of maintaining the physical, tangible hardware, like powering them with electricity and installing security systems to protect them.

With a cloud-based solution, there are none of those costs involved. With a cloud solution implemented, a system administrator is able to oversee included and automatic processes that would otherwise be more manual work to put in place. Not only is money being saved from not having to purchase hardware, the IT team member has more time to spend productivity-wise on other projects.

Cloud services, like AWS, have experts that are extremely well versed in what their domain is to help their users. Disaster recovery and cybersecurity are such areas. These both take much time to research, plan, and implement, which could lead to more money being spent on less productivity for an IT team. Someone on that team could be learning about something they don't know as much about as compared to one of these Cloud experts. This time and money could be utilized better elsewhere with cloud product support.

Advantage #2 - Flexible IT Infrastructure Costs

With a cloud service like Amazon Web Services, particularly Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), you're using a pay-as-you-go, subscription-based model. You can pay for what you need with no strings attached. This is a great option for a growing business that projects their assets and files could grow to a certain amount within the next year. You can pay for 1TB of storage now, but when it's needed, pay for 2TB next year. When you're buying an on-premise hardware solution like a server, you're paying for a 1TB server with no chance of adding more storage. You would have to pay for an entirely new server, including the costs of implementation and maintenance of the new hardware.

Are you about to release a blog post or press release where you can anticipate more traffic than usual to your website? The cloud allows you to automatically upgrade your CPU for that certain period of time. It will go back to it's original configuration settings after that time has past. This is a great way to stay on top of budgeting within your team and company.

Advantage #3 - Flexible IT Infrastructure Capacity

There is no need to consider any changes to a cloud service's capacity. If extra resources are needed, you can get them when you need them. If you run out of storage when adding files, you can add more storage, and only an amount that is needed. Capacity in regards to on-premise IT infrastructure is not as flexible as the cloud. If you have a server that stores 2TB of data, and the files you have need more storage than that, you may need to buy a new server altogether. There is no way to add more storage onto hardware that is built to only support a certain amount.

Advantage #4 - Latest Versions of Software

A great benefit of cloud computing is that there are no expensive software upgrades. An example of this is the setup of an EC2 instance on AWS. When an instance is created, you have the choice to set automatic updates from a certain product, i.e. Oracle for databases. You could also have it customized so that only certain versions of that product are upgraded. This is beneficial if there are new versions of a product out, and there is apprehension due to lack of time in the market or known issues and bugs.

The process of upgrading software for on-premise infrastructure tends to be more complex. If a software update is released, a system administrator typically needs to manually download and implement it. This includes carving out time for a specific server to be down to implement the upgrade. Once it is installed, the system administrator needs to test it to ensure nothing has been broken. This entire process could take up to an entire day, and if it needs to be done when no employees are accessing the service, the system administrator needs to spend time on the weekend or late at night in order to fix the issue. In the end, productivity goes down for all employees.

Advantage #5 - Always & Anywhere Available

Google Cloud, particularly G Suite, thrives off of the model that anything related to a company could be accessed at anytime and anywhere with an Internet connection. Important documents that may need to be viewed outside of work hours is available if needed. There is no need to wait until you're back in the office to connect to the on-premise server. Many companies set up Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), so that access to files are limited to certain IP addresses or locations. This is not a limitation for access to documents using the cloud.

Another benefit for cloud-accessible items is the allowance of flexible hours and locations for business operations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24 percent of employed people did some or all of their work at home. This statistic has risen with the growing use of cloud products. A company is free to hire more remote employees, full-time, part-time, or freelance, if it would best fit its business needs.

Cloud Computing Considerations

While cloud computing is the direction that a majority of companies are going in, it is important to realize some implications that could arise if you choose to move to the cloud.

Security & Privacy Issues - Since having location restrictions may defeat the purpose of accessing the cloud whenever you can, you should be aware that a login and password sign-on process could be easy for someone to steal. If username and password credentials are saved in a browser session, it's simple to get into your account and access sensitive files.

Possibility of Downtime - While this is not something that happens frequently, since cloud product models rely on this to work, data centers may go down either due to maintenance or other issues. If this does happen, rarely does this affect a user few longer than a few minutes. It is still a more efficient option than having scheduled, longer downtimes initiated by a system administrator.

Vulnerability To Cyber Attack - The cloud could be vulnerable to cyber attacks. While cloud products are known for having great cybersecurity features that are administered and monitored by the best experts in that domain, there are still some key concepts that you would need to be aware of. Some of these concepts are accessing information from insecure APIs, not transferring assets from secure clients to the cloud, and the possibility of a data breach.

Data Transfer Costs - One of the most common ways of transferring data and assets to the cloud is through hardware, which can include hard drives, flash drives, and optical storage. There are added costs just to aggregate what you need to get onto the cloud.

Cloud Computing Service Costs - When implementing a cloud service, lots of planning should be done before to determine the specs of your cloud usage. Some items and features to consider are paying for too much storage, not taking down specific instances, and dismissing thresholds for free services.

Conclusion

Believe the hype of cloud computing. It has transformed the way businesses plan and implement their IT infrastructure. It has offered benefits for hardware and software that would have seemed impossible a few years ago. Running a virtual machine with all the desired configuration settings one minute, then taking it down the next minute is something that could only be possible here and now.

While cloud computing is a viable choice for many businesses and companies, it's best to be aware of any implication associated with its processes. A plan, strategy, and budget should be in place to successfully migrate or implement a cloud solution. Just like anything, research is key gaining benefits of a product.