Beginners Guide to Cloud Computing & How it Can Help Small Businesses

illustration of man and devices

Beginners Guide to Cloud Computing & How it Can Help Small Businesses

With more businesses working from home, it may be time to invest in cloud computing for your company. In fact, it is more than likely you are already using some form of cloud computing. If you have ever used Dropbox or Google Docs, as two examples, then you are already familiar with working from cloud-based systems.

As more organisations are moving to online working, now is a good time to learn more about cloud computing, and how it can help your business.

What is cloud computing?

Simply put, cloud computing is using programs and storing data online, rather than using your computer’s hard drive. Local computing or storage systems will use programs and store data directing to your computer, whereas cloud computing runs all these programs over the internet.

Cloud computing types include data storage, software, application hosting, databases, servers, and online programs, such as Google Drive or Microsoft Office Online. These web-based systems mean that users can access the same files from any location or device.

Types of cloud computing

There are numerous ways cloud computing works. Types of services include:

Software as a service (SaaS)

Software a service applications are typically run on subscription or pay-as-you-go models. They allow users or members of the same team to work on files simultaneously. Teammates can collaborate on the same file, which is updated in real time, so users will always have access to the most recent version. Examples of SaaS are Microsoft Office 365 and Google Workspace.

Platform as a service (PaaS)

Similar to SaaS, platform as a service (PaaS) allows you to create a service that is used over the web. Cloud based resources such as APIs, web portals and gateway software are used by software developers. This is the more multifaceted form of cloud computing. Examples include Salesforce and Google App Engine.

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)

Infrastructure as a service uses cloud-based servers, rather than traditional physical systems, to deliver a range of services such as storage and servers. Examples of IaaS include Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and IBM Cloud.

computer hardware

Examples of cloud computing

Google Drive

Google drive is a cloud-based storage service, where users upload files directing over the internet. These files can be accessed from any location or device connected to the internet. With the ability to gain access to files from your phone, laptop or tablet, Google Drive is an efficient way to work remotely and data is easily accessible.

Other Google Apps

Many of Google’s applications are cloud-based, such as Google Sheets, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Gmail, and Google Maps. Being able to access these apps from anywhere makes it easier and quicker to access data and work productivity.

Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft Office 365 is great for businesses of all sizes to work collaboratively and access systems from any location. Co-workers can use Microsoft Office email, work on the same projects, and share information and files amongst the team. This is a subscription-based service, with varying prices depending on how many users it is for.

Dropbox

Dropbox has been around for years and is a service that allows users to upload and store files over the internet. These files can be synchronised and shared amongst users. Prices start from AU$18.69 per month for individual users to AU$33 per month for larger teams.

Salesforce

Salesforce is one of the world’s leading providers in cloud computing, allowing users to access CRM, sales, marketing automation, commerce, ERP, analytics and more.

Apple iCloud

For Apple users (and those using Windows devices), iCloud synchronises all your data onto a virtual server. This includes emails, photos, messages, your calendar, contacts, and backups. This is a storage based system which allows you to have a backup of your files.

Cloud Security

Cloud computing stores data via three different methods; public, private and hybrid.

Public cloud

Public cloud providers use the internet for their storage and web services. Your data will be handled by a third party and you will receive a portion of the cloud service, over a shared infrastructure. For larger companies it may not be wise to share sensitive data over a public system, although advantages are that you will be getting up to date services at a cheaper price.

Private cloud

Instead of storing all data over the internet, a private cloud system is installed within your company. This will be conducted by an in-house IT team and can be a great option for bigger corporations with large amounts of data or any company wishing to have a higher level of security.

Hybrid cloud

As the name suggests, this cloud service provides both public and private cloud based systems. This is a flexible way to store the most confidential information on the private cloud and general data on the public cloud. The private cloud will be managed by the organisations own IT team.

man holding tablet

Positives of cloud computing

Flexible working

One of the biggest benefits of cloud computing is the flexibility and efficient way of working it offers. Employees can access services from any device and any location. When previously many systems could only be accessed from the office, which had the software installed, staff can now work from anywhere. This is especially important now as many more people are working remotely.

Up-to-date files

With programs such as Google Docs and Microsoft Office 365, teammates can be assured that they are working on the most up to date file and can do so simultaneously. This seamless workflow can mean projects can get completed faster and better communication is had amongst the team.

Cost efficient

Although cloud computing is still an expense, it is also predicable. You know how much money is coming out of the account each month, making budgeting easier. Rather than paying for an expensive server and the expertise to run it, businesses can work more efficiently when managing a monthly subscription.

Your data is backed up

One of the benefits of cloud security is that if your system crashes, you should be able to retrieve your data. A cloud backup service is different from a cloud storage service, which will allow you to store any files you upload to it. A cloud backup will allow you to restore data which has been lost or damaged.

Negatives of cloud computing

With potentially sensitive information being stored in the cloud, there will always be some vulnerabilities to watch out for. If the cloud service provider crashes from a bug, power cut or cyber attack, then company data can be lost.

There is also the rapid development of the Internet of Things (IoT). Smart devices and anything which uses the connection to the internet can be a vulnerability path into your network and cloud services.

A main concern for many business owners is how exactly their data is stored in the cloud. Before paying for a cloud service, you should be asking the right questions. Ask them how they will store your data and who has access to it. Be sure they are following security protocols, have a good support service and ask which methods they use to keep your data safe.

Cloud computing is evolving as technology evolves. This is the new way to work and as long as you are using good cyber security measures to protect your cloud services, then you are in a good position.

At Cube Cyber we help businesses protect themselves when using cloud based services and can help you stay protected whilst online.

Find out more on how we can help your business.

 

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