Cloud Computing

Cloud computing refers mostly to storing your data and sometimes programs on the web and using that as a "home" for your applications and data. Cloud computing is attractive because doesn't rely as much on in-house hardware.

Cloud computing is here to stay. We’ve helped several companies take advantage of cloud computing. There are a number of advantages. There are also some very valid concerns about this new opportunity.

There are 2 primary concerns for cloud computing. Concern #1 is how long it takes to do things when using the cloud and concern #2 is about security and reliability.

Most office networks run at 100 megabits or even a gigabit in bandwidth per second. A lot of data can travel quickly. Many office class broadband connections offer between 1 and 5 megabits per second, which is great for web browsing but not so great when trying to work with large documents or to handle a lot of traffic. With some recent broadband offerings reaching up to 50 megabits per second, more possibilities are becoming practical. But few have this much bandwidth at their disposal and it is still fairly expensive. So based on this, one can get enough internet bandwidth to equal about 50% of local bandwidth, but on average most have between 1% and 10%.

Many applications are optimized to work on the web. Email was the first and most widely used. Anyone who has an account with Yahoo.com, Gmail.com, Hotmail.com uses the cloud regularly. Microsoft Exchange Server can be web based as well as being based on an in-house edition. Other applications are becoming available. Microsoft, for example, released its Office 365 platform and also has Office Web Apps which work with SharePoint 2010. This growth of web based applications will continue indefinitely. So given enough broadband, the web becomes capable of providing more of the services businesses use. At this time, bandwidth is typically a limiting factor.

Security is the next major concern. Put simply, anything you do on the web can be reviewed by 3rd parties. Due to this you have no guarantee of privacy when you use web based services, unless, of course they are your own services.

Reliability is another major concern. All web providers experience times when they are off-line. Find out if your provider offers what is called a “high availability” solution. This kind of solution suggests that their equipment will be operational more than 99% of the time. Get references from the provider. Find out how long they have been in business. Find out what their disaster recovery plan is, and get it in writing!

There are a great number of advantages and some disadvantages to cloud computing. They advantages are largely based around short term costs. Our goal is to help you make an informed decision and then to get you where you'd like to go.

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