What Exactly is the Cloud?
Traditionally, you load software or programmes for applications such as backup, email, web site software/programme, or Customer Relations Management [CRM] systems on to your computers or internal server, and run them locally. However, cloud computing means that the entire process is Internet based. Instead of managing servers, infrastructure and software locally on your computer or server, the software is hosted online – in the cloud.
This is called SaaS (software as a service) and means there is no expensive maintenance or backup worries as the computing infrastructure, software applications, business processes and collaboration and information capabilities are hosted on secure web portals [the cloud] and users simply access these applications from anywhere; be it at home, in the office, on the road, or anywhere else with an internet connection using computers and other devices (such as smart phones, tablet PCs and iPads etc).
A simple example is email in which you currently use a programme like Outlook to send and receive via POP. If so, Outlook is loaded onto your computer and sent and received mail goes in and out via the Internet but is actually stored on your computer or on your in-house server. With the cloud, the application/programme runs online. You can do everything you currently do with email, contacts and calendars, but you can now do it from anywhere – and it will automatically be backed up online to give you peace of mind if your computer is lost through fire or theft. If you have a Gmail, AOL or Hotmail account for your private email you’ll already understand the concept, but cloud based email now lets you do this with business mail via your own domain email addresses.
With a cloud based IMAP account, you can also synch your cloud hosted mailboxes with any mail client or smartphone too.
Similarly with a cloud hosted web site you sign in online, go to a page, make your changes and logout. You do this from any device connected to the Internet and don’t have to install any special software, you just use a standard web browser.
Back Up is another growing cloud hosted solution. Instead of backing up to an external drive in the same building as your computer [which is hopeless in the event of fire or theft], your data is backed up offsite. Whenever you amend or add a file on your computer, it automatically gets backed up online. It’s safe, secure, foolproof and easy to set up.
Cloud based solutions give you access to the latest applications for a low annual/monthly subscription fee, rather than having to buy, install and manage the software yourself.
It also means that you will not suffer if your premises are the victim of fire or theft as the hardware and software is hosted in the cloud. In short, you can simply take specific services that you want on demand as you need them, and configure them as if you owned the infrastructure, but with the resilience and features of a larger enterprise.
We are convinced that the cloud will save you money, help you generate revenue and generally make you and your staff more effective by making the features that you have come to rely on more accessible wherever you are working from.