Cloud Computing and Business

In the corporate world, cloud computing has become a popular buzzword as companies shift more and more of their products and services onto the web. Most people understand the general concept of cloud computing, but fail to grasp the specific impacts it has on their industry. Part of the problem is that cloud computing cannot be simplified into a single application or platform. Rather, it encompasses an entire trend of computing servers moving into centralized data centers, where its power can be leveraged by companies all over the globe. Read on to learn how cloud computing works and what impacts to expect.

Cloud Architecture

The revolution of cloud computing actually preserves the basic structure of how businesses have used information technology resources for the last few decades. Servers still host applications, which are accessed by users from workstations or web browsers over a network. But cloud computing does represent an architectural shift in how these resources are stored and deployed. Each cloud server is located in a central data center, which is typically operated by a third party company and built on virtualized hardware. This eliminates the need for corporations to run their own data centers and hire staff to support the equipment inside of them.

One of the major advantages of the cloud architecture is that data in the cloud can be accessed from anywhere at any time, while still being secured.

The central data center contains networking equipment to connect all of its servers to the internet, giving companies the power to host websites, mobile applications, and more. Cloud providers also offer a range of backup and replication services, so if an outage or disaster occurs, a company can shift resources to a different location and continue their operations as normal.

Software as a Service

Modern data centers offer unprecedented speed and performance, but how can cloud computing be used? The answer is a new concept called Software as a Service, or SaaS. In the early days of computers, all applications ran on external media like floppy disks or CDs, and had to be installed on a local machine. Now with cloud computing and SaaS, companies can offer software solutions purely through a web interface. This has created a new market for subscription services, where customers pay a monthly or yearly fee for access to a web product for personal or professional use.

Human Resources is one of the many business disciplines to be impacted by cloud computing and the SaaS model. Software developers now sell suites of HR tools to individual businesses, all of which can be accessed through a standard web browser. Cloud computing in HR can cover hiring, payroll, time off systems, personnel directories, performance reviews, and more. Previously, most companies would hire an internal development team in order to create these types of systems and run them in-house. But with cloud computing, reliable HR tools can be rolled out quickly without much overhead required.

Productivity and Affordability

Cloud computing will continue to change how all industries do business, even those not directly related to software and internet services. The most common changes that companies will notice are around productivity and affordability. Cloud computing can increase productivity in the workplace, because all tasks related to setting up and managing servers is effectively outsourced to the data center provider. It also improves communication between dispersed groups of staff, as these teams can remain connected to central systems in the cloud.

Many companies will also find that adopting a cloud architecture for IT resources will represent significant cost savings, as opposed to traditional in-house server hosting. Data center providers charge customers only based on the computing power they actually use. So if a company's busiest time is during the holiday months, they can increase server load for that period and then reduce it afterward and lower their financial commitment.

The trend towards cloud computing is bound to continue to progress in the future, as more industries move towards global connectivity and centralized resources. Companies will find that most of their core operations rely on the internet, and cloud computing makes such work possible.