Simply Stated, Cloud Computing

On December 5th, 2011, posted in: Thinking Smarter

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You can’t open a magazine or news website without being exposed to the catch phrases and supposed wonders of the so-called “Cloud Computing”. Unbeknownst to many in the technology world, those outside it are often uninformed of the actual use of terms like “Remote Applications”, “Offsite Storage”, and “Redundancy” in their environment. For those who aren’t well versed in the matter, we at Smart would like to take this opportunity to explain cloud computing.

Simply put, cloud computing is a network model which relies on servers located at a distant location accessed over the internet. Instead of routing email and sharing documents through a server located in the office, each user connects to their own piece of a server pool. This eliminates the thousands of dollars spent on server upgrades every five years as well as the hardware costs associated with adding storage or new users to an environment. It also means that any point, multiple “redundant” copies of your data exist offsite. If a data failure were to occur on one of the copies, Microsoft would automatically revert back to a working clone and you would never notice the downtime. The cloud, in essence, offers complete data security without the expense of backup solutions. In case of a disaster or complete hardware failure of an on premises server, offsite backup tapes or hard drives would be required to ensure data safety. With the cloud, the idea of server backup becomes obsolete with data being stored simultaneously at different locations hundreds of miles away from each other across the country.

For a nominal monthly fee, Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud can be utilized not only as a mail and data server, but also as a Microsoft application provider. The full version of Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint can all be accessed via the internet browser or from a program on your computer the way you most likely do now. This means that whether you are on your computer or accessing the internet abroad, you have access to full version production programs you require as part of the same monthly fee.

As far as security is concerned, Microsoft provides state of the art solutions at every layer of defense. The physical databases which house Microsoft’s cloud servers are more secure than most government buildings with much of the storage underground in isolated locations. The email and data security they offer for their customers is built to meet the needs of multi-thousand employee enterprises and government entities. While on premise security can be made extremely safe to use with the correct configuration, but it cannot compare to the guaranteed security of an entity dedicated to keeping millions of users safe.

The Cloud solution, is not right for every environment. Smart can help you decide, based on your needs, what the best solution is. If you want more information, give us a call.