Is Cloud Computing A Feasible Option For Businesses?

Posted on February 9, 2010

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Cloud computing. Chances are that if you’ve browsed the internet lately you have come across this term. But what is cloud computing? Basically, cloud computing is another type of operating system for your computer. The only difference is that instead of the operating system being hosted on a local computer, the operating system and all your files are stored on a remote server. How do you access them? Through the web. Some services, like iCloud and the emerging Google Chrome OS, are examples of this. With iCloud, you go to their website and create a username and password for free, then you log in, and there’s your desktop! All your files are stored on the server as well, so you can go to any computer in the world with internet access–even if it isn’t yours!–and log into iCloud and use all your favorite files and programs!

So the question arises: would this technology be feasible for business use?

Obviously it would be a cost-effective option, seeing that the vast majority of cloud software is free, and it would run fine on low-spec computers. It would also mean that companies wouldn’t need to shell out tens of thousands of dollars to pay for servers to host all their files–it would be done for them.

It would also possibly mean more productivity, as employees could simply log in to their work accounts from anywhere and get right back to business, sharing files from computer to computer.

But then there’s the downsides.

First and foremost: security. Considering that the files are hosted thousands of miles away on someone else’s servers can bring up some concerns. Are your companies files in the right hands? For the most part, if you go the Google way and get their Chrome OS (currently in beta), you’ll be rest assured that it will be tough for bad guys to get ahold of your companies sensitive documents. But as with anything, there’s always the possibility of a security breach. Google has been hacked before, proving that it’s not entirely impossible to break in to even the biggest companies servers. If they do this again, it may be possible to get into the cloud servers, and access users files at will.

Also there is the threat of downtime. Since the files are only accessed through the web, if you lose internet connectivity you’re essentially left with a big paperweight for a computer. The nice thing about current operating systems is that even if you’re left without an internet connection, you can still work on your files that are stored locally. With a cloud OS, this isn’t possible.

So overall, if you are running a small (or even large) business, cloud operating systems certainly hold some promise, but you might want to wait a little for the technology to improve before you make the switch.

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