The concept behind cloud computing is simple: it lets you run computer applications over the Internet, without having to buy, install or manage your own servers. You can run your company's IT operations with nothing more than a browser and an Internet connection. Applications, operating systems, servers and network switches all reside out of sight and within the metaphorical cloud, the Internet and are managed by your cloud computing vendor.
A New Way of Doing Business
Cloud computing turns conventional software delivery on its head in a number of ways:
- Low overhead: Upgrades, maintenance and system administration take place in the cloud and are managed by the vendor, so you don't have to spend nights or weekends supervising a new version upgrade or a failed server. One industry analyst study found that cloud-based business software cost 50% less than on-premise software over a four-year period for a 100-employee company
- Ease of access at anytime, and from anywhere: Cloud computing is "always on," making it easy to grow your business and support remote workers and locations, or support a highly mobile sales or service team, because people can access the cloud any time, day or night, from any browser, desktop or mobile device around the globe, 24x7
- High availability: Cloud software architectures are designed from the ground up for maximum network performance, so they frequently deliver better application-level availability than conventional, on-premise solutions. For example, NetSuite commits to 99.5% availability for its customers, and provides data security such as PCI DSS compliance that would be cost prohibitive to achieve with on-premise software
- Security: For many companies, the level of security and availability, disaster recovery and back-up provided by a software-as-a-service provider far exceeds that which they can provide themselves. NetSuite, for example, provides data security such as PCI DSS compliance that would be cost prohibitive to achieve with on-premise software
- Fast deployment: You can be up and running with ERP, CRM or ecommerce applications, on a local or global scale, within a few months, rather than the six to 12 months it would take to install and troubleshoot conventional servers and software
- Optimised performance: The cloud adjusts to your performance needs, dynamically assigning server cycles whenever and wherever you need them, and automatically adjusting to spikes in your business.
- Subscription-based pricing: You pay as you go, often on an annual basis, unlike conventional systems where you have to make a major up-front investment in licenses, hardware and software. You benefit from better cash flow and far greater IT flexibility
- Energy savings: By eliminating the need for on-premise hardware, cloud computing reduces overall server room electric consumption as well, which can save a mid-size businesses more $10,000 or more per year, according to a recent sustainability impact study.
You're in Control
Best of all, cloud computing lets you focus on your business rather than on your software. You don't have to use valuable IT resources to keep business systems on life support. Instead, you can re-deploy them to focus on more strategic business initiatives while leaving your cloud computing vendor to worry about scalability, security, uptime, application maintenance and system upgrades.
And you can be confident in taking your business public, or into new regions of the world, without outgrowing your cloud computing resources, thanks to the world-class datacentres typically provided by cloud computing vendors.