Where Is the Cloud Headed?

Cloud computing goes way beyond email and anti-spam to host a multitude of business applications


A cloud service has three characteristics that differentiate it from traditional computing models, according to whatis.com: “It is sold on demand, typically by the minute or the hour; it is elastic- a user can have as much or as little of a service as they want at any given time; and the service is fully managed by the provider (the consumer needs nothing but a personal computer and Internet access).” In previous articles I wrote about cloud services for hosted anti-spam, Microsoft Exchange enterprise-class email, and online backup and disaster recovery.

The cloud can be leveraged to go far beyond using these specific services. Companies can now build upon enterprise-level data centers to securely and reliably deliver entire business networks without the need for expensive on-site equipment.

Hispanic businesses no longer need to buy, manage, maintain and backup servers at the office. All of a company’s data, applications, and email can be centralized in one ultra-secure location enabling access at any time, from anywhere and from any device with Internet access.

This is a good thing! Investing in servers, associated software licenses, and network administration and support staff or outsourced support firms, creates significant IT overhead. Cloud networks offload this liability to cloud providers so businesses can focus on increasing resources to grow their businesses.

Remember the analogy I wrote about in my previous columns comparing computing today to electricity. Buying generators and staffing a team to maintain and operate them doesn’t make sense when you can purchase the electricity you need directly from the utility company. Cloud providers offer you the computing power you need, month to month, similar to the way you purchase electricity today.

Companies such as LevelCloud and ThinkGrid have set up enterprise-class data centers with powerful servers that users remotely access from any Internet-capable computing devices including tables and smartphones. The computers only need a Web browser, so older computers often work just fine. From one login, you’ll see a unified workplace showing your email, files, folders, and applications. Speed is typically blazing fast because of the enterprise-level hardware. Popular applications such as Microsoft Office 2010 are included and always kept up to date. Security is top-notch as browser sessions are fully encrypted.

Admittedly putting all your computing resources, applications, and data in the cloud is scary for some. In my next column, I’ll explore these considerations and how vendors address their prospects concerns.




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