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What is 'Cloud Computing' all about?

PUBLISHED: 12:20 05 April 2013 | UPDATED: 21:25 05 April 2013

What is 'Cloud Computing' all about?

What is 'Cloud Computing' all about?

We chat to Claire Lewis, Marketing Director at Gloucester-based web host and cloud computing experts Fasthosts Internet, about the latest tech trend to enhance businesses in the region...

What is Cloud Computing all about?

We chat to Claire Lewis, Marketing Director at Gloucester-based web host and cloud computing experts Fasthosts Internet, about the latest tech trend to enhance businesses in the region...

What is Cloud Computing, Why is really relevant to small business

Put simply, Cloud computing means that as opposed to data being held on servers on-site, the servers that could host your websites, emails, data and applications are accessed via the internet.

Cloud computing services are an opportunity to improve the way IT is bought, used and managed by SMEs. In fact, many of us are now using cloud computing services everyday without even realising it. From sharing images with friends on Facebook or FlickR, to sharing contacts and backing up mobile devices on platforms such as iCloud, all such applications require a cloud-type model. You are probably using a cloud service right now.

Can this really help my business, even if its a small local firm?

Absolutely. Cloud solutions can be a real help, as they provide a number of great business benefits that you could feel every day. The key benefits of Cloud computing are a) reduced IT costs as there is no need to buy a physical server, b) improved agility theyre scalable and so can flex according to your real needs, c) accessibility enjoy access wherever, whenever via the Internet, d) chargeability only pay only for what you use, and finally, d) resilience and security as data is protected by experts rather than you.

You mentioned security. Is it more risky having my data living on the Web rather than in the office?

It is understandable that many business owners can feel nervous about losing physical servers from their premises. However, studies show that the vast majority of those that implement Cloud services are satisfied and most expect to increase their use of them within the next 12 months. A reputable web host will have state of the art infrastructure and all the latest precautions and monitoring in place for optimised security and uptime, far more resilient than you can achieve on your premises.

Could this really impact my overall business success?

Well, yes. Look at your business objectives, opportunities and goals in relation to growth and performance. Review your individual business circumstances against criteria such as need for mobility, seasonal surges, and income/cost patterns. All these areas should give clues as to whether flexible Cloud-based IT could offer you ways to enhance your operations, and improve your bottom line.

How do I switch to Cloud based IT? Do I need to buy everything again?

Depending on the complexity of a businesss IT infrastructure it may be advisable to move to the Cloud in a phased approach. Cloud services can easily and effectively be bolted-on to existing on-premise systems.

Is there more advice available out there?

Yes. Theres a rapidly growing pool of resources online and in the media to help you. Before purchasing anything, do your research and be sure to talk in depth with Cloud providers. For example, Fasthosts offers free consultancy, designed to help businesses find the right solution for their specific needs. Services such as this allow you to speak to skilled experts, well placed to discuss all your available options and solutions, before you make any investments.

Claires Top 5 Tips for considering Cloud computing

What am I going to use the service for?

How long do I need the service for, on-going or for a specific project?

In what ways can the solution grow and does it meet my business ambitions?

Is my business growth organic or should a solution cater for peak periods and low periods?

Can I implement and manage the solution myself, or is a completely managed service essential?

As part of Fasthosts Inspiring Better Business campaign, the company shares profiles of businesses that are using IT such as Cloud computing to increase their competitive edge, at www.fasthosts.co.uk/inspire. The site also allows you to share your own inspirational business advice.

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