You may have heard the term “cloud computing” over the past couple of years and you’re probably considering using it as an option for your new business. However, like most people when they start out, you’re probably thinking- but wait? What is “cloud computing”? What does it actually mean?
The “cloud” is quite simply another way to refer to the internet. If you think of where the internet is you might think of it as being all around and above us. A bit like a cloud! That’s where the term came from. So when it comes to cloud computing we are referring to storing all of your data and any programs you may have on the internet (in the cloud) as opposed to on a hard drive or some other kind of storage device.
When you move all your data over to the cloud you won’t have any physical representation of where your data is any more. It will be elsewhere, hosted by one of thousands of cloud servers. It may seem that you won’t have quick access to your files but the cloud is aimed at being a fast, any time-anywhere connection to your data without all the hassle of keeping your servers up to date and clean. It’s all done for you. Think of it like a maid service, but for your computer. While you’re not looking they’ll keep your information and belongings safe and you can come and use them whenever you need.
When you first start out your business cloud computing, as an individual, can be a great way to handle all of your data. You can access it at any time and in any place (providing you’ve got an internet connection), which can make managing your business a breeze. However, once you expand your business you may wish to move your data onto a more business specific version of the cloud. We will discuss the pros and cons of different available platforms in another post.
If you’re not sure about the cloud there are plenty of other options for retaining your data. You can buy directly attached storage, for example USB sticks and hard drives. While you’ll be able to physically put your hands on your data you will have to run regular backups to ensure everything is up to date and safe. Make sure you make copies of your storage and keep them in separate places just in case anything was to happen to your office premises.
You could opt to purchase your own server. Therefore offering you an in-house network where you can save all the data within your business. This is a good option for a small business when you begin to see growth within the company as you can have one larger storage option where everything is stored. This will work across the business and you can synchronise folders as you see fit. You will however have to maintain the server yourself.
Choosing your data storage option is integral at the beginning of your business. You will want to ensure security and accessibility at all times. Some people remain uncomfortable with sending their data off to a third-party cloud supplier and therefore opt for options which they can manage themselves. It is most probably the case that over the course of your business as you see growth that you will find that you will need to upgrade your data management in some sort of way. Whilst keeping your own servers is close to home, cloud computing is the future and its benefits are not to be forgotten.