With modern companies relying on IT to function effectively, cloud computing has emerged as a must-have solution for companies that want on-demand location-independent access to computing resources. In fact, Gartner estimates that by 2022, 90% of companies in the market will be using cloud services. This article will examine some of the top benefits of cloud computing driving adoption among enterprises and outline what cloud computing is.
What is Cloud Computing and What are the Benefits?
Cloud computing is the term given to the delivery of IT resources like data storage and computing power over the internet. Under a cloud computing model, a user isn’t restricted to access local devices but can access services over the internet in real-time. Cloud services can be provided on a public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud basis.
These cloud models can be defined as follows:
- Public cloud – IT resources that are publicly available over the internet.
- Private cloud – IT resources offered via a private network.
- Hybrid cloud – A mixture of public and private cloud services.
You can also break down cloud service into three other categories; Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), and Platform-as-a-Service.
These can each be defined as follows:
- IaaS – A service where an enterprise pays for access to a cloud provider’s computing and storage resources.
- SaaS – A service where an enterprise accesses software on-demand over the internet.
- PaaS – A service with a development and deployment environment that enterprises can use to build applications in a web browser.
Top 10 Benefits of Cloud Computing for Businesses
With such a diverse range of cloud computing models, it’s no surprise that cloud services have a variety of benefits to offer enterprises. Some of the benefits of cloud computing include:
One of the biggest reasons why companies are moving to the cloud is to cut costs. An IDG survey found that 79% of businesses see cost savings, as a benefit to moving to the public cloud. The cloud is a cost-effective option because cloud service providers offer centralized IT resources on-demand on a pay-as-you-go basis so that a company doesn’t have to purchase infrastructure upfront.
Not having to make that purchase also means that a company doesn’t have to invest time and money into maintenance, they can simply outsource that responsibility to a cloud service provider. The cloud provider can then take responsibility for regularly updating hardware and making sure that everything runs correctly.
It’s also cost-efficient because a company doesn’t have to spend money putting together a specialist IT team to run a data center on-site. They can simply pay a monthly subscription and benefit from an expert team provided by another company.
2. Greater Scalability
Cloud computing is scalable because you don’t have to purchase more hardware whenever you want more storage or computing resources. All you need to do to provision more resources is to contact your cloud provider and request extra bandwidth. This enables you to quickly add more resources to continue operating during periods of increased demand.
You can’t replicate the same scalability with an on-site datacenter because you have to purchase new resources whenever you require more memory or hardware. As a consequence, most companies with on-site data centers end up purchasing extra computing resources to prepare for peak periods like Black Friday.
This lack of flexibility with on-site infrastructure makes the cloud a compelling alternative for many enterprises that want to maintain performance at all times without needing to maintain excess computing resources that aren’t used most of the time.
3. Data Backup and Restore
Storing data in the cloud makes it very easy to regularly back up your data. Many cloud services automatically back up your data to the cloud, ensuring that you always have a copy of your files if something goes wrong. These copies are often encrypted protecting them from unauthorized user access.
While you can store your data on-site, this is less convenient and in many ways less secure. For instance, if there is a flood, fire, or natural disaster that destroys your on-site data then you’ll be unable to access your backup.
Storing your information in the cloud gives you more security so that if there is a problem at your local site you can access your data from another device and location. Many cloud service providers will also monitor backups to provide an extra layer of security against data loss.
4. Data security
With cyber-attacks on the rise, keeping data safe is a constant challenge for enterprises that the cloud can help address. Many cloud service providers have built-in security features like role-based authentication, access control, and encryption that can help keep your data secure.
While you can replicate these controls on-site, cloud service providers have teams of experts at their disposal that most organizations can’t replicate on-site. Storing data in the cloud also has the advantage of mitigating the risk of physical access to protected resources.
This is important because, in an on-site data center, employees with physical access to devices and data present a significant security risk as they have the ability to steal or destroy sensitive data. Moving your data offsite ensures that it’s outside the reach of malicious internal actors.
5. IoT Functionality
With the IoT device market on the rise and expected to reach $1.4 trillion by 2027, there will be a mountain of new data that organizations will need to collect and analyze to gather new insights. Cloud computing is the only technology on the market that’s capable of collecting information from IoT devices and storing it in one place.
Cloud services are critical to collecting IoT data because they can collect data generated by multiple IoT sensors and store it in a single central location where a human user can monitor it in real-time to generate operational insights. It’s also essential for collecting IoT data at scale.
Many cloud services also provide users with big data analytics platforms that help them to make sense of the data that’s been collected. For example, Azure Stream Analytics offers real-time data streaming from IoT devices, so that users can turn impenetrable data sets into something that can be easily understood.
6. Enhanced Collaboration
Storing your files in the cloud means that a remote team can easily collaborate on projects from their devices no matter where they are. With tools like Office 365 and Google docs they don’t have to be on a particular desktop device to open key documents, they can access and share files from any location and collaborate in real-time.
For instance, Google documents allow users to work on documents simultaneously, with the option to add comments and make changes in real-time. This instant interaction enables remote teams to work more efficiently without needing to send documents back and forth via email.
Many services also automatically sync documents you’re working on so that they’re regularly updated. This means you don’t need to waste time porting files from device to device or travel across the office to get feedback on important materials. In short, documents aren’t tethered to a local device, but available on-demand wherever you need them.
7. Environmentally Friendly
Data centers have a significant impact on the environment, accounting for 1% of electricity consumption globally. As a consequence, hosting workloads in the cloud provides an opportunity for organizations to decrease energy consumption by not needing to maintain a data center on-site.
By outsourcing to a cloud service provider, an organization can access a cloud provider’s existing resources on a pay-as-you-go basis without needing to power an on-site data center and all the infrastructure that entails. In other words, cloud provider data centers are more efficient than those of smaller organizations.
Storing computing resources in the cloud also decreases greenhouse gas emissions, as not purchasing new infrastructure means there’s no energy consumed during manufacturing, transportation, or disposal of the equipment.
8. Increased Employee Engagement (via remote working)
More employees are beginning to express an interest in working from home, particularly following the Covid-19 pandemic. A Gallup study of US workers found that 59% of those surveyed would like to continue working remotely post lockdown, suggesting that offering remote working is key to maintaining employee engagement.
Cloud computing supports employee engagement by making remote working possible by providing them with instant access to IT resources. With cloud computing, employees only need an internet connection and a personal device to access the materials needed to do their jobs effectively.
Moving to the cloud can thus be a great way to empower employees to work from home and enjoy a greater work-life balance as they won’t need to be in the office to access key resources. This is particularly beneficial for employees with families who need to juggle work and childcare commitments.
9. Automatic Software Updates
Manually updating software is a time-consuming process, particularly if you’re dealing with dozens or even hundreds of different devices. Moving to the cloud enables you to hand over responsibility for software updates to a cloud service provider, who will automatically update the software so there are no security vulnerabilities.
Cloud computing enables users to focus on important daily tasks without wasting time manually updating devices. After all, in on-site environments manual updates are likely to take a backseat to an employee’s day-to-day responsibilities, leaving vulnerabilities open that cybercriminals can exploit.
In this sense, automated software updates also reduce the chance of human error leaving a vulnerability exposed. For example, there’s no risk of an employee forgetting to update a particular application and leaving the entire network vulnerable as the cloud service provider will handle this automatically.
10. Big Data Analytics
Analyzing your data is impossible if you can’t get it all in one place. Cloud computing enables you to store your data in the same location so that you can use technologies like big data analytics and machine learning to process it and develop insights to improve decision-making.
As modern companies make smarter use of IT, data-driven decision-making isn’t just desirable, it’s becoming critical to keep up with the competition. One survey reveals that 79% of enterprises agree that companies that do not embrace big data will lose their competitive position and could face extinction.
So for many enterprises, learning how to gather insights from the mountainous data sets they collect is key to remaining competitive long term. For instance, you can use big data to monitor customer purchasing patterns and gather insights on how to boost customer acquisition rates.
What Type of Organization is Cloud Computing Ideal for?
Any organization, no matter how big or small can use cloud computing to become more agile. You don’t need to invest thousands to reap the rewards of cloud computing as there is a spectrum of cloud solutions you can use to transform your business however you require.
Some larger organizations may require an enterprise cloud provider like Azure to migrate their entire data center to the cloud or to build complex mobile applications. Other small enterprises may just need a collaborative document solution like Google Docs to enable their remote teams to communicate easier or a file-sharing solution like Dropbox to share files between employees.
No One is Too Small for Cloud Computing
The benefits of cloud computing are vast, and with some careful planning, you can significantly enhance your operational efficiency without breaking the bank. Whether you’re looking to use a single cloud application or migrate your entire workload to the cloud, there are a variety of free and paid solutions that let you start to migrate to the cloud on a cost-effective basis.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, so if you decide to move to the cloud then you should look for what processes you want to digitize. Try to remember that no company is too small for cloud computing. Moving to the cloud will put you ahead of many of your competitors and put you in an ideal spot to capitalize on emerging technologies, like IoT devices as they enter the market.