Cloud computing has completely changed the business technology landscape over the last two decades. One might even say that cloud computing has altered the very nature of how businesses operate.
Cloud computing is the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or personal computer.
“There are different kinds of cloud computing,” says Bit-Wizards' Managed IT Services Team Manager, Brian Schlechter. “In general, your processes and your software are running on someone else’s hardware, and you’re just renting from them as opposed to purchasing it yourself.”
The benefits of cloud computing
Schlechter says a major highlight that cloud computing offers to businesses is the ability to scale more easily.
“Scalability is very important to newer businesses and startups,” Schlechter explains. “Having some of your internal infrastructure with one of the major cloud providers, where your servers are virtual machines as opposed to physical devices that are located on-premises, allows you to easily move and scale them depending on workloads and other business factors.”
For older companies, Schlechter says the biggest benefit of cloud computing is redundancy.
“If you’re a Fortune 100 company that’s been around 100 years, scale isn't necessarily your biggest concern because you’re already at a massive scale yourself. These companies are likely more interested in the flexibility of moving things around in the cloud, as well as the redundancy of being able to store things in both on-premises servers and in the cloud.”
Security is also a bonus.
“Microsoft spends billions of dollars a year on security,” says Schlechter. “As a small company, you’re never going to spend that kind of money. But when you get cloud services through Microsoft, you’re covered by many of their policies that help protect you.”
5 cloud computing trends having a big impact on businesses today
1. Backups and disaster recovery
“Even if most of your systems are on-premises, it’s much easier to spin up a backup solution in the cloud,” explains Schlechter. “Should something happen, like a hurricane wipes your building out, you can easily spin everything up in a secondary location without having to pay rent and power.”
Schlechter says it’s also a lot easier to test and maintain a backup schedule. “When you’re doing backups, you don’t really have a backup until you’ve test recovered it. Back when everything was a physical server, to test your backups, you had to have a spare server lying around to restore to and see if it worked.”
As cyberattacks, hacks, data outages, and natural disasters continue to pose a threat to businesses all over the world, backups and disaster recovery remain steady trends in the cloud computing industry.
2. The internet of things (IoT)
“You’re definitely going to see a lot more IoT devices and that growth will put a higher demand on cloud computing,” says Schlechter. “Having these IoT devices allows for a lot of automation within companies that helps make things a lot more efficient.”
But an increase in IoT devices also means heightened security risks.
“IoT devices are usually so small and cheaply built, and the security of these devices is not often a concern that business owners or employees think about,” explains Schlechter. “With all those devices put in various places throughout a business, they’re very exploitable for tracking people and getting sensitive information.”
3. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning
“AI and machine learning are major right now,” says Schlechter. “Massive amounts of computing power are needed for these, and most businesses can’t afford to just buy that kind of hardware.”
Cloud computing plays a key role in the delivery of AI, opening the door for businesses that wouldn’t otherwise have the means to explore it.
“This is why cloud computing is such a big deal,” Schlechter says. “It’s a game-changer to just be able to rent it and use it when you need it.”
4. Hybrid cloud
“Hybrid cloud is definitely becoming more popular,” says Schlechter. “This is like what I was referring to with those older companies. You have some of your hardware on-premises, some in the cloud, and then you connect the two.”
Schlechter says hybrid cloud is also a rising trend for bigger companies, particularly because of the cost aspects.
“While the cloud does have a lot of good points as far as scalability, accessibility, and security, it can also be more expensive to run things in the cloud,” Schlechter explains. “If you’ve got specific workloads that you know are going to stay constant, meaning they likely won’t need to scale, it’s more cost-effective to run them on-premises.”
5. Serverless cloud
“Serverless cloud is becoming much more in demand as well. In the old way of doing things, if you wanted a website, you’d have to set up a server, install all the services needed for the site to function, and then basically publish it to the internet,” says Schlechter. “With serverless cloud, you take away that server instance.”
Schlechter says serverless cloud allows you to rent the services directly from the cloud providers, which means you don’t have to worry about the security, updates, or maintenance of that server. This helps reduce your overall maintenance costs while giving you all the security and benefits you need.
The future of cloud computing
“The cloud will always be relevant,” says Schlechter. “For the most part, you can always rent more.”
With so many businesses running on the cloud, cloud providers are basically becoming like telecom providers. It’s practically mandatory for cloud providers to be up in order for businesses to run.
“If the Amazon cloud or the Azure cloud went down for just a couple of hours, there are major businesses that would lose billions of dollars in just that span of time,” Schlechter explains. “It’s almost becoming an essential service for everyone.”
While many principles of setting up a cloud environment versus setting up on-premises servers are the same, there are also a lot of differences and specializations. Your cloud provider controls most of how you do things in the cloud, so having someone that knows what they’re doing is vital to set it all up correctly and securely, especially the first time.
“One of the greatest things about the cloud is all the different options, and one of the worst things about the cloud is all the different options,” says Schlechter. “You have 19 different ways to do every single task and there are pros and cons to each. At Bit-Wizards, we’ve already done it 10 different ways, so we know those pros and cons. This makes it easy for us to find the best cloud solution for your business.”