How Cloud computing can help your business

At its simplest, cloud computing is using the Internet as a storage drive. Vast increases in server memory allow users to inexpensively access gigabytes of storage space. Some email services offer a gigabyte or more of free storage space. The advantage of a virtual drive is that it can be accessed from any computer and there is little risk of losing information due to the physical destruction of the storage media. A thumb drive can get lost, but a cloud only exists online. The disadvantages of cloud storage can be slow download time and inaccessibility when the Internet is down.

Cloud computing is using the Internet as a network. Rather than having several computers attached to the same network mainframe, the Internet supplies a common storage. The difference between a group cloud and a private cloud is that all members can access uploaded information. Some cloud services for businesses offer sophisticated software that allows for instant-update collaboration and even manager oversight of employee activities. Cloud computing and virtual networking have the advantages of universal accessibility and transparency.

Before the invention of shared cloud memory, communication between out-of-office employees occurred through email, and files were sent over email. This solution is still available but has limitations. Updates do not replace the original file but instead are sent in a new email. If the worker forgot to email coworkers, then the updated files were not available. Another limitation to email was maximum upload size. This could be as little as a megabyte for some email systems. To solve the problem, large files had to be broken into partial files and rejoined with software.

Cloud computing came into being with company-owned servers that allowed password-holding employees to upload and download files from the server. They could do this over the local area network or over the Internet. Cloud computing is a logical extension of the local network. With local networks, both memory and software are shared. This means that a single copy of a software is installed onto a central computer and computers attached to the network can access the software by requesting it. A copy is uploaded to RAM, but the software is never retained in the computers memory.

This is the real advantage that cloud computing provides to businesses. There is no need to have to install a software on hundreds of computers and have to pay for several hundred licenses due to software copyright laws. It might be cheaper to buy a network license and allow network members to access software that is stored virtually. This can be cheaper as far as licensing is concerned, but it has the additional advantage that software can be accessed by any computer, anywhere in the world.