Cloud Computing and Your Business
Life in “The Cloud” is becoming ever more popular for everyone from gamers to business executives. The reason for this? Convenience, adaptability, and mobility. From secure storage and file sharing to virtual offices; from reduced capital investments to improved system management; from expanded resources to improved communication, the cloud offers all of these things and more.
At North Star, Inc., we understand the uncertainty that follows the introduction of new technologies and innovative IT solutions. As your Denver network support specialists, we are here to help you understand the changing IT landscape, and to help you make the choices you need to make which will improve your productivity – and your bottom line.
What is the cloud?
As with most emerging technologies, many people have differing ideas about what “The Cloud” is all about. Essentially, cloud computing is about offering choices and increased versatility, with every tool you need to be productive available 24/7, 365 in a secure, online environment. In fact, if you have a Hotmail or Gmail account, you’re already using cloud computing, because the email program you use is hosted off-site. Cloud power allows you to do the same thing with virtually every program and app your organization uses, hosting them for you in a secure, off-site environment.
For more detail on How Cloud Computing Works, Johnathan Strickland of HowStuffWorks.com provides a wonderful explanation.
The Private Cloud vs. The Public Cloud
There are basically two types of cloud service to choose from – public and private, but with a twist:
- The Public Cloud – allows your organization to access secure storage and applications available to everyone, reducing investments in hardware, programs, and bandwidth. The service is scalable to your needs and you only pay for what you use. The Public Cloud from Microsoft can include access to Office 365, or to limited Office web apps in SkyDrive, and many other productivity tools that your organization uses every day.
- The Private Cloud – is tailored to the specific needs of your organization and is offered to a very limited number of users; those within your organization only. It provides increased data security and enhanced control, as the “customer base” is highly limited to those within your company. The Private Cloud from Microsoft, called Azure, can include full access to all features of Office and Outlook, since the system is tailored to the specific needs of your organization.
- The Hybrid Cloud – combines the two services for you, essentially creating a virtual private network (VPN) for critical data, while also allowing you to communicate with others outside the network, such as clients, in a secure environment.
For a comparison of Public, Private, and Hybrid Cloud solutions, take a look at this article, Comparing Public, Private, and Hybrid Cloud Computing Options, at Dummies.com.
Microsoft SkyDrive and Microsoft Azure Cloud Services
Microsoft offers two cloud based services, with Office 365 as a minimal alternative to the two. It gets a bit confusing but let’s try to understand what they are offering…
- Microsoft SkyDrive and Office 365 – are both Public Cloud offerings. Office 365 is basically a cloud-based version of Office for use with mobile devices, while SkyDrive is a full-service cloud-based solution. The free version of SkyDrive offers the user 7GB of online storage, combined with fully functional sharing and real-time collaboration, as well as minimal office functionality, through Office Web Apps. Increased storage and functionality are available for a surprisingly modest annual fee.
- Microsoft Azure – on the other hand, can be structured as a complete virtual office, offering all the functionality of an on-premises system but with increased access for the entire organization. It is a pay-per-usage system, based upon terabytes of data used. Azure offers big data storage, access to virtually any operating system, virtual machine usage, website hosting, server hosting, access to unlimited apps, and networking. It is truly a virtual office environment.
Use this link to discover more from our article series about Office 365.
While the idea of cloud computing can be confusing, we believe it helps to think of it like this; whatever your current system can do, the cloud can also do for you. As long as your internet connection is running, every app and system you have in place will be available to every person in your organization 24/7, 365. No more server downtime; no more investments in new hardware; no more buying and maintaining operating systems and software programs. They are all available to you in The Cloud.
If you are looking for reliable IT consulting in Denver and the surrounding areas, North Star, Inc., is the place to go for quality Denver network support, including your introduction to Cloud Computing. Get in touch with us today with your IT Service Request, and let us help you decide which cloud service is best for you.