Cloud computing is a way of delivering various computing services like servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, etc over the internet. It deals with delivery of hosted services over the internet.
It allows you to consume a compute resource, like computing resources, storage or application as a utility. You may not need to maintain the infrastructure and related software.
Cloud-based storage helps in storing files in remote machines instead of local storage or hard drives. As long as the system has network connectivity, it can access the information and software available on the remote storage.
Cloud computing reduces operating costs in your business as well as helps in ensuring high business continuity, augments collaboration between employees across different places, manages elasticity of business, etc.
Its use is rapidly rising, and a lot of organizations, irrespective of its size, is adopting this new technology.
Despite its exponential growth and adoption in the world, cloud computing also has certain disadvantages. The pros can help an organization to excel whereas the drawbacks can harm its progress.
Continue reading this article to find out the benefits and drawbacks associated with cloud computing so that you can decide wisely what is right for your business!
What are the advantages of using cloud computing?
Businesses of all sizes can benefit from cloud computing if it is used correctly. Cloud computing has several benefits. Let us look at what advantages cloud computing offers.
1. Cost Saving
Generally, any organization has to spend lot of money on setting up their IT infrastructure.
They need to invest in multiple requirements like servers, network devices, storage, ISP connections, software, etc. Cloud computing eliminates such type of expenses.
Just go to your cloud service provider and avail the required cloud service. The cloud is cheaper and helps the companies reduce their expenses to a considerable extent.
Biggest advantage of using cloud is the option for pay-as-you-go which helps companies to choose and plan accordingly.
You will have option to ramp up or down number of CPUs on the fly and so cost can be significantly reduced. E.g. during month end when you need extra CPU powers, you just increase as many CPUs as you need and post month end activities, lower it down to minimal.
Companies also need experts to manage their IT infrastructure and require finance for this purpose as well. But in cloud computing, the cloud service provider is responsible for managing more or less everything, and thus it results in cost-saving.
With the cloud, you get nearly unlimited storage space to keep your files and documents. So, the problem of running out or frequent cleaning of storage or scalability issues diminishes significantly.
Cloud services are more reliable compared to in-house IT infrastructure, provided you have a good quality network connection.
You need not to worry about updates as they are generally managed by the cloud providers and you get latest versions with minimal downtime.
The services run on redundant infrastructure and offer you higher availability of IT services.
Also, there is a fast failover mechanism where if a server fails, the hosted services and applications can be transited smoothly to one of the available servers.
Many providers also provide a Service Level Agreement with 24/7/365 and 99.99% availability guarantee. With a managed service platform, the cloud is significantly consistent compared to traditional systems.
4. Backup and Recovery
Backing up all your information and restoring them from the cloud is much easier than keeping the same on a physical device.
Even if your personal computer crashes, your data remains safe in the cloud and you can still access them anytime, anywhere if you have internet connectivity.
Also, most of the cloud service providers are competent enough to deal with the information recovery. So, one need not worry too much about backup plans as it is being managed by cloud providers.
Most of the cloud computing services have self-service and on-demand options. Therefore, vast amounts of computing resources can be provisioned in a jiffy.
This makes the businesses flexible and also removes the pressure of capacity planning.
Cloud computing provides central administration of resources; vendor managed infrastructure and SLA backed agreements to simplify IT management.
There is no need to handle any IT infrastructure as the service provider manages more or less everything.
You also get a user-friendly web-based interface for accessing software, applications, and services, without any installation, and an SLA confirms the timely delivery, management, and maintenance of your IT services.
7. Accessibility and Deployment
With the cloud and proper internet connectivity, you can access the required information from anywhere, anytime.
It does not matter whether you move to another timezone or a different location as long as there is an internet connection. Also, you can pay only for the resources you use.
Cloud computing provides quick deployment. With this, your complete system can become functional almost in a jiffy. However, the time consumed will depend on the exact type of technology you desire for your work.
8. Strategic Edge
Ever-augmenting computing resources offer you a competitive edge over other competitors, since the time needed for IT procurement is virtually nil.
With cloud computing, your organization can implement mission-critical applications for delivering significant business advantages, without any upfront costs and with minimal provisioning time.
Cloud computing helps you to concentrate on your key business goals and objectives instead of worrying about technology all the time. It aids you in decreasing the time required to market the latest applications and services.
What are the drawbacks of cloud computing?
So far, we have discussed how cloud computing is fruitful and how a business of any size benefits from cloud computing.
However, cloud computing also has its risks and disadvantages which one should be aware of, especially smaller companies, before using it.
Curious? Let’s continue. The major disadvantages of cloud computing are as follows.
1. Speed and Bandwidth
You require fast internet speed for accessing any cloud service and good bandwidth for uploading or downloading files. Without these two, your services will be hampered.
2. Possible Downtime
With cloud computing, your business becomes dependent on the reliability of the internet connection. When there is no connectivity, you’re offline and cannot access the server, data or apps from the cloud.
If the internet service experiences frequent outages or a drop in speed, then cloud computing may not be desirable for your work.
So, before taking up cloud computing, think about the extent to which your business will be dependent on it because even the most reliable cloud service provider is prone to suffering from server outages at any point of time.
3. Security issues
Though cloud service providers incorporate several security standards and industry certifications, storing information and essential documents on external service providers always pave the way for risks and threats.
Using cloud-based technologies implies that you have to grant your service provider access to essential business data. Being a public service, cloud service providers are prone to security challenges too.
The ease in procuring cloud services may also provide nefarious users the chance to recognize and exploit weaknesses and vulnerabilities within a system.
For example, in a multi-tenant cloud architecture where there are many users hosted on the same server, a hacker might attempt to break into private user-data hosted and stored on the same server.
However, such loopholes are unlikely to occur.
Switching to the cloud improves security problem of a small business. Several big cloud computing organizations have more available resources and can offer various levels of security to the smaller ones.
If you are the owner of any small business, then you need to figure out if the security levels provided by a cloud computing company can overcome the potential security risks of cloud computing.
4. Vendor Lock-in
Cloud service providers claim that the cloud is flexible to use, but the concept of switching cloud services is something that hasn’t yet entirely flourished. It may be hard for organizations to migrate their services from vendor to vendor.
Also, hosting and integrating any current cloud application on another platform may create interoperability and support problems.
For example, applications built on Microsoft Development Framework (.Net) might not function appropriately on the Linux platform.
5. Reduced customer trust
Data breaches undoubtedly result in diminished customer trust. For instance, in one of the substantial data breaches related to payment by card, hackers stole over 40 million users’ credit and debit card numbers from a store called Target.
Thus, the customers began avoiding the Target stores, leading to a loss of business for the company, and severely affecting their revenue.
Even contractual breaches affect the relationship with the customer as well as business partners. Contracts between different business groups often limit how data is used and who is permitted to access it.
When employees shift restricted information into the cloud illegally, the business contracts may be violated, and legal action can be taken against them.
For example, a cloud service, having the right to share all information uploaded to it with third parties in its terms and conditions, is actually violating the confidentiality agreement it promised to the business partner.
6. Data transfer cost
While the inbound data transfer to the cloud is free, on the other hand, outbound data transfers over the monthly allowance are charged on a per GB scheme.
If your business requirements involve downloading a massive amount of data from your cloud applications or data storage on a regular basis, then the additional pricing also increases.
However, cloud computing is extremely competitive, and prices change from time to time. So, do check current pricing before doing any operation.
Cloud computing is an excellent development opportunity for a business of any size, especially the smaller ones. It enhances productivity and performance of an organization by reducing the need for IT infrastructure and management.
The largest cloud computing services run on a worldwide network of safe and secure data-centers. They are regularly upgraded to the latest version of quick and efficient computing hardware, providing multiple benefits over a single corporate data center.
Like everything else in this world, even cloud computing has its benefits and drawbacks. In this article, we have covered them in detail to give you a clear concept.
When opting to use cloud computing, begin with it slowly and select few of your business applications to replace with it and find out the results. With time, you’ll surely become more acquainted with it and will be in a better position to judge the suitability of the cloud for your business operations.