'The Cloud' and 'Cloud Computing' are terms we see thrown around quite a bit on social media, the news, and even business now. But what does it mean, & does it even matter? I heard it's just a piece of tech 'slang' thrown around to make a product or service sound cool & sell more -
Sometimes yeah, but really the term 'the Cloud' refers to the collaborative computing network of applications running on data centers across the world to provide a wide variety of services for customers kind of like:
- Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook
- Stripe - Payment processing software and application programming interfaces for e-commerce websites and mobile applications
- Plaid - Data transfer network that powers fintech and digital finance products.
- Figma - Vector graphics editor and prototyping tool which is primarily web-based
- Webflow - Online visual editor platform that allows users to design, build, and launch websites
- Dataminr - Artificial intelligence that provides real-time information alerts to clients
- Loom - Screen recording & sharing application
- Lucid - A Visual Collaboration Suite for Photographers, Designers, Social Media Marketers, & Influencers
- Fivetran - A cloud-based ETL platform for accessing complex data and performing advanced analytics
- Mailchimp - Online marketing automation platform and email marketing service
- Zapier - Workflow automation & Integration hub for large and small teams
And the term 'Cloud Computing' has become one of the most widely accepted ways of describing the practice of remotely storing or managing data for services over the Internet. For example, some of the largest and most popular companies deliver services on the cloud, including Salesforce, Slack, Facebook, Netflix.
3 Types of Cloud Management Strategies
Cloud Services & Solutions
I Still Don't Get It -
Okay, think about your Netflix subscription. Tens of thousands of videos that you're able to access on your computer, home entertainment system, tablet, mobile devices, & much more. What if you had to have every single one of those movies and tv shows saved onto your device to navigate the library and find something to watch? You wouldn't have enough storage. If your Internet connection weren't stable or fast enough, it'd take days, maybe even weeks or more. What if there was a natural disaster and you lost all of the files? Oh boy, and don't forget about the firmware updates and maintenance for the massive storage server you have to maintain!? Would you know what to do? Maybe. Regardless, it'd be more work & a lot more expensive for you to do it than just storing it on Netflix's servers and only accessing one movie or show at a time.
Software Services vs. Cloud Services
What's the difference between a software provider & a cloud service provider?
Resources & Administration.
Typically, when you purchase software like a digital game, an operating system, or even a firewall or antivirus application, you buy software license rights to access & download a file. Once your software installs, you use the physical resources on your device to run the applications and manage your information and services.
Have you ever run too many applications or too large of an application and ended up with your computer lagging, slow, or even crash? That's because the application was too large for your processor or server. A software license from a software provider typically runs on a user's device(s). In contrast, a cloud service provider generally is accessible via a web browser like Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. A user logs in to the cloud service provider's web portal and accesses their information, software, & other services provided.
Cloud Service vs. Internet Service
Wait, how's a cloud service different from Internet Service?
Suppose we compare cloud services, data, & how you receive your data to a hose or pipe. In that case, the Internet Service Provider that allows you to connect to the World-Wide-Web, access social media, and utilize cloud services would be similar to the physical pipe. The bits and packets of information would be the water flowing through it.
The cloud services connect via the Internet, and internet service provides the "Access" or "Transport."
What are the downsides?
Anything ranging from an unreliable internet connection to your internet services having low bandwidth, packet loss, jitter, other network issues, or even local weather events or natural disasters can impact your experience and leave you stranded without access to critical information. Compared to having on-site servers & information where companies can remain functional & running without public applications or internet access. Leadership in companies will all have to evaluate how storing data on an external server can affect their cybersecurity posture. So for local & federal government organizations, healthcare, finance, & retail, and other companies with strict data privacy requirements and regulations where it's critical to store & access consumer information securely, leaders must understand how storing data on external servers can affect their risks and legal compliance.
If that 3rd-party company had a data breach or any other unforeseen circumstances occur causing a leak of information you're company is liable for, that might result in a fine or worse.
Likewise, for companies in areas with limited access to public services or a stable internet connection like remote construction projects, service providers, or even emergency response services-
It's vital to evaluate how occasional weather occurrences can impact their access to an application or service that might also affect a crucial process in your business.
I mean, think about it, if you don't have enough cash on hand, even a grocery store can't accept a debit or credit card transaction without enough access to the Internet to receive verification of approval with your banking services.
Additionally, you have to understand how leaving your, your company's, or your customer's information within external sources factors into your company's cybersecurity risks & legal compliance barriers. In the case of any unforeseeable events, a company might cease to have your information available.
If an error impacts your access to this information, how will that impact your business?
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that the cloud is here to stay. The Federal Reserve is already researching and building a "hypothetical" digital currency with IT.
Digital is the new normal.
However, as we transition more into a digital economy, it is vital as a business owner to understand how using cloud services can impact your business to make the necessary adjustments & precautions to prevent unnecessary impacts or cybersecurity risks.