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Cloud Computing - What is it?

Post by Tony Hogan, 23/5/2011

Cloud Computing really means accessing an IT service through the Internet. It's as simple as that. Examples include using your hotmail email account via a web page or getting access to your RTA records online. You can now also move your servers that you use to store all your data, email and files to a hosting company and access them via the Internet.

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Advanatages of hosting your server in the cloud

Having someone buy, manage, update, backup and secure your IT infrastructure has to sound good. Here are some of the advanatages.

  1. No Initial Outlay for server hardware (there is an ongoing fee however)
  2. Less support for your IT hardware as it is maintained for you
  3. Backups are done for you
  4. Security is taken control of
  5. You can scale up or down as required

Disadvantages of hosting your server in the cloud

Make sure you host with a reputable and trustworthy provider, and make sure to do your own checking of backups and security as often as possible. Here are some disadvantages.

  1. Access to your mission critical data and email is dependent upon a fast reliable Internet connection. Until the NBN comes in, this is the main sticking point.
  2. You are reliant upon a 3rd party. If they fail - you fail.
  3. You don't have control over who has physical access to your data. You need to trust the hosting provider and their staff.
  4. Ongoing fees can become prohibitive and subject to change.
  5. It's not easy to divorce yourself from the hosting company.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Software as a Service means you pay an ongoing fee to access software on the Internet, rather than downloading it to your computer. Examples are 'Campaign Monitor' for sending email marketing campaigns, or CleverStats.com.au for recording your indoor cricket statistics.

Microsoft and Google both offer Word and Excel type applications on the Internet. You don't have to buy the software up front and install it on your computer. You just go to the web page and start creating your document or spreadsheet.

The Pretty Clever team (yes us) have also created a number of applications to run on the web for our customers. Software that allows you to store and manage images, keep track of jobs, allow clients to book jobs in and SMS reminders, as well as online shops, surveys and booking systems.

All of these applications live in the cloud (on our Tier 1 Web Server) and are accessed via the Internet. You don't need to worry about updating every computer every time there's a change to the software. It's done in 1 place and effective immediately.

Summary

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Remember 25 years ago when computers were dumb terminals that connected to a mainframe (maybe not, it's a long time ago). All the computing power lived on the mainframe and operators simply entered data through their terminals. We've gone full circle except that now it runs through the Internet, rather than a local connection.

The Cloud is the way of the future, but until we get a very fast, reliable Internet connection you may be better off with your own server and a Pretty Clever team to look after it.

Software as a Service is the way applications are being written now. If you need advice or would like us to build a custom web based application to help streamline your business, please call us.



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