Cloud computing isn't just another buzzword that's here today and will be gone tomorrow. It's the very basis on which the future of computing lies. According to RightScale's fifth annual State of the Cloud Survey, 95% of IT professionals are using cloud computing in some form. The survey also found that 18% of IT professionals were using public-only clouds, 6% were using private-only clouds, and 71% were using some type of public/private hybrid cloud.
So, what makes cloud computing such a powerful platform for IT organizations? Here are some of the many benefits that it offers.
Cloud computing scales to meets the needs of all businesses and organizations, big and small alike. As your business grows, you may demand more bandwidth to accommodate the increased traffic on your network. Because cloud computing leverages the resources of remote services, which are managed by a third-party hosting provider, it can easily scale to offer more bandwidth. Consequently, cloud computing can also be scaled down if the demand for bandwidth decreases. Cloud computing scalability is unmatched when compared to running and maintaining on-site servers, making it ideal for businesses who are planning to grow and expand their operations in the future.
Another benefit of using cloud computing is its ability to protect data from disaster. When storing data locally, there's an inherit risk of fire, theft, flooding, etc. destroying the data. As the saying goes “hope for the best but prepare for the worst” holds true in this circumstance. Hopefully, nothing will happen to your organization's data, but if does, you need a backup copy on hand. Cloud computing makes backups and disaster recovery a breeze. Organizations can set up their networks to automatically back up data on the cloud. So, in the event that something happens to their local server or storage device, the organization can rest assured knowing that there's a second copy available on the cloud.
Access Data Anywhere
Of course, cloud computing allows organizations to access their data anywhere, anytime – a defining characteristic of the cloud. Organizations and their respective workforces are no longer forced to use specific local machines to access their data. As long as there's an active Internet connection, the organization can connect to the cloud.
This alone can open up the doors to a whole new world of possibilities, such as telecommuting for instance. One study found that 43% of workers were willing to accept a lower pay in exchange for the ability to work at home.
A lesser-known benefit of cloud computing is its collaboration-friendly environment. Here's a scenario to consider: you are developing a new software and need the assistance of another employee. With on-premise servers, you'll have to swap work back and forth, which can become tedious and tiresome. Developing software on the cloud, however, allows multiple workers to collaborate on the same project. Workers and teams can edit and share documents from any computer or workstation, assuming they have access to the cloud.
Running on-premise servers isn't exactly environmentally friendly given the sheer power usage it requires. But cloud computing allows organizations to only use the power and resources that are needed for their project or task.
Easy to Adopt
Cloud computing is easier to adopt than most organizations realize. There's virtually no hardware required in setting it up from a customer's perspective. Once you've purchased a subscription or plan from a cloud provider, you can connect to the cloud via the Internet.
Can cloud computing really increase your company's revenue? Many business owners agree that it can in fact increase their revenue. A study cited by Business.com, for instance, found small businesses that adopted cloud computing doubled their profits and increased their additional revenue growth by 25%. Of course, these results are largely attributed to many of the benefits listed above,
Cyber Threats on the Cloud
While most IT organizations today have embraced the use of cloud computing, some remain reluctant to jump on board. So, what's stopping organizations from leveraging the power of cloud computing in their day-to-day operations?
One of the most common reasons cited among IT professionals for not embracing cloud computing technology is the inherit risk of hacking and cyber attacks. Conventional wisdom should lead you to believe that there's a greater risk for unauthorized users accessing your data if the data is stored on a remote server (the cloud) instead of a local device or closed network. According to a recent report published by Alert Logic, cyber attacks on the cloud have nearly doubled from 2014 to 2015, with hackers viewing cloud technology as a jackpot of data.
A separate report published by Netskope found that 15% of business-oriented cloud apps had been infiltrated by hackers, and roughly 25% of all files cloud-based files are shared with at least one person outside of the respective organization or company.
“Employees today have shifted from thinking of apps as a nice-to-have to a must-have, and CISOs must continue to adapt to that trend to secure their sensitive corporate and customer data across all cloud apps, including those unsanctioned by IT,” said Netskope CEO Sanjay Beri when announcing these findings.
There are ways to create a secure environment on the cloud and mitigate the risk of cyber threats, however, including the use of encryption. Ideally, pre-Internet encryption (PIE) should be implemented, so even if an authorized user accesses the cloud, he or she won't be able to gain the encrypt key needed to decipher the data. PIE encryption, when combined with a 2-step authentication for logins, can greatly enhance the security of a cloud computing environment.
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