There are countless services describing themselves as existing “in the cloud” today, and the range from online games to information archives to administrative services for businesses. What is “the cloud”? It’s a colloquial term for data management that is handled via remote storage on servers that typically have rotating backup and multi-location data storage. This allows them to provide application services without installing the entire software package on an individual PC. The result is similar, from the end user’s point of view, to the way terminals used to work on mainframes. They couldn’t be more different in terms of actual physical structure, though, because the point of cloud computing is to provide access to the service, whatever it is, from anywhere that clients operate.
Cloud Computing Services
Cloud data services also allow companies to have all the infrastructure benefits of an on-site server farm without the investment. These services allow a client to pay for cloud space and enjoy the automatic multi-location backup, providing secure data storage that can be used for practically anything you’d do with a server, including the management of proprietary software. For businesses looking to create their own software for specialized applications, this is a huge benefit, because it lets them enjoy the benefits that outsourced cloud applications boast while gaining the perfect fit you only get with proprietary apps.
Applications Using Cloud Data Models
Today, cloud applications with end user clients and subscription-based service delivery are available for practically any purpose, and many providers of third-party productivity apps use cloud delivery.
- Enterprise resource planning
- Accounting and bookkeeping
- Archives and long-term data storage
- Education and training
- Gaming and recreation
- Streaming media delivery
- Human resources and benefits management
One of the big selling points of cloud computing to companies is the increased productivity they can bring without a massive increase in infrastructure investment. Commonly cited benefits of cloud services of all kinds include:
- The ability to harness high-end servers and multi-location backup without the physical infrastructure
- Access to the most up to date antivirus, anti-malware, and cybersecurity applications as part of the service
- Outsourcing IT to streamline company operations and reduce the burden on employees
- Keeping data accessible even when devices are lost, stolen, or destroyed
- Giving users the ability to handle data from wherever they need to work
The last item is perhaps the most powerful. With the right security support, employees can not only comfortably work remotely as needed, they can count on accessing all their information from any computer in any facility a company owns. This is especially attractive to global companies with many facility locations.
Cloud computing can do a lot, but the core idea is a simple one. The cloud is a collection of servers that provide data services to clients, including those providing application services to third party clients of their own.