Cloud computing is continuing to be adopted at a staggering rate by SMBs because it offers many advantages over on-premise infrastructure. In fact, Forrester research estimates that by 2020 spending on public cloud computing services will grow to be about $160 billion.
There are many reasons for this enthusiasm. Cloud computing offers more flexibility, quicker disaster recovery, and automatic software updates. It also reduces capital expenditure, enhances collaboration, and makes it possible to work from anywhere.
Yes, But Is It Safe?
One criticism leveled by non-adopters is that there is an element of risk in putting all your data in the cloud. Skeptical business owners wonder if they might be vulnerable to a hacking attack that will destroy their business. Fortunately, this potential threat can be thwarted with the right kind of cloud security.
What is the Right Security?
It is one that offers many levels of protection.
Good security is rather like a castle that has many layers of defense. One level might be a moat. Another level might be archers raining down arrows through the arrow slits. A third level might be the defenders using small catapults to discharge iron darts.
By contrast, comprehensive security capabilities for a cloud might include anti-malware, intrusion protection, host firewall, integrity monitoring, and log inspection.
A Less Well-known Advantage
While the cloud can be appreciated for its functionality, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness, it is less well-recognized for another astonishing value it offers: greener technology!
Using a cloud—regardless of whether it is a public or private cloud—will make computing greener for four reasons:
- Resource virtualization.
Resource virtualization improves energy efficiencies and contributes to conserving resources. With virtualization, a single server can run many operating system images at the same time. As you can imagine, this server virtualization has a huge impact on reducing the total physical footprint. Energy expenditure is decreased because less energy is used to achieve the same effects. Also since less equipment is plugged in, a data center will need to consume less energy. Meanwhile, resource utilization is also decreased because you need far less equipment to handle the same workload. Slashing back on data center space also reduces the digital footprint. It’s also important to note that although the idea of server virtualization has a sci-fi feel to it, it is not futuristic in the sense that it is not how cloud computing will be done; server virtualization has been in wide use since 2011.
- Automation software.
Automation software makes it possible to optimize and upgrade efficiencies. While virtualization is a wonderful thing, it alone does not fully optimize how energy and resources are used. Another powerful way to improve efficiencies is to use automation software to handle workloads. Automation pushes the limit of what was thought possible to improve utilization ratios — and the higher these ratios, the lower the reliance on a physical infrastructure.
- Capital and manpower.
On-premise computing required users to use boxed software and hiring IT professionals to install, upgrade, and fix glitches. Now with cloud computing, a company only pays for the services it uses through the use of SaaS model, which is based on renting software as a service. In addition, a company does not have to hire its own IT professionals but can rely on the cloud vendor providing overall maintenance and service for all its clients. With this new model, huge amounts of capital are not spent in buying software which will become increasingly obsolete as new versions are invented. In addition, a company does not need to create an IT staff to keep things running smoothly. This capital can now be redirected into other channels for company growth.
With cloud computing, users only consume what they need. They may need software, like an accounting or design application. Or they many need system resources like bandwidth or storage capacity. These needs fluctuate according to business life-cycles.
Many business divisions or organizations can use the same cloud, which creates efficiencies of scale.
Here’s an analogy to explain how this works: If you lived on an island with 100 people, real estate would be precious. If everyone built homes, only 55 people would have one because all the land would have been used up. However, if a skyscraper were built instead of homes, then only one plot of land was needed and everyone could live quite comfortably in a self-sufficient apartment unit. The rest of the island could now be used for other purposes.
Similarly, with multi-tenancy, one cloud computer can share its resources among a wide number of users. On a private cloud, many different business units in an organization could benefit from shared resources. On a public cloud, the same division can take place, except instead of different business units there would be different organizations. Cloud computing can share its resources equitably because each tenant would have a different demand pattern and the rise and fall of these demands could flatten out; because automation would balance out the ratio between usage peaks and troughs; and because by averaging out loads, computing demands would be fully met without waste.
The New Green Revolution
If you’re looking for a way to build a greener business, then consider adopting the cloud. Cloud computing reduces the waste that is inherent in on-premise infrastructures. It replaces it with massive efficiencies which gives all users exactly what they need to run a successful business unit or organization.