City sky line in the clouds

Cloud computing is growing in popularity, with a projected growth rate of 22% throughout 2022. 78% of companies are using cloud computing in some way, and it’s predicted that the global market for cloud services will grow to £800 billion by 2025. Despite this growth, there are still some concerns about cloud security, with a recent study by Ponemon Institute finding that 66% of respondents said they were “very concerned” about the security of their data when it’s being stored by cloud technology.

But nowadays it seems the cloud is all around us. As more companies move into working from home or hybrid work structures, cloud computing is proving invaluable in providing access to data, documents and co-working – no matter where employees are based.

But if you’re thinking about adopting a cloud infrastructure for your business, what are the advantages and disadvantages of cloud computing that you should know? We give you an updated list.

Quick recap: What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is a catch-all term that refers to any technology that allows you to access hosted services over the internet using a specialist cloud computing platform, and that is often billed on a pay-as-you-go basis. Commonly this will include access to technologies and applications like data storage and servers.

Because the services are hosted, and on a pay-as-you-go basis, one specific advantage of using cloud-computing services is that companies don’t have to spend money on, or maintain, their own IT infrastructure.

Instead, they pay for what they use, when they use it, and only need a reliable internet connection. Companies can rent access to anything from applications to storage from a cloud service provider rather than owning their own computing equipment or data centres.

Read more about cloud computing in our blog, What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing advantages

So that’s one crucial advantage of cloud computing, but what are the others?

  1. Lower costs

A major Cloud Computing advantage is cost savings. Cloud Computing saves you money because it does not require any physical hardware expenditures. You don’t need specialised staff to maintain the hardware, either. The cloud service provider purchases and manages the equipment.

For startups, small businesses and even businesses looking to save costs, these savings are invaluable because just about everything connected to computers comes at a high price. Hence, this is the first checkbox checked on the list for most firms when it comes to cloud computing benefits and drawbacks.

The cost of buying high-quality servers for a business can be several thousands of pounds, and there’s also the issue of software and hardware upkeep. You’ll also need a secure location to set them up. That means if you don’t have one already, you’ll have to build one on-site. Servers require frequent cooling in order to function correctly, so prepare for some hefty air conditioning expenses.

But Cloud computing solves all of these issues for a company, saving money and time. The cloud provider will take on all of the hassles involved with server infrastructure, maintenance, and utility management, whilst the cost of cloud-based applications is often less than that of locally installed software.

Not only that, but you also save money by not having to pay for unused server time or disk space.

  1. Security

Despite a few high-profile cloud data breaches, there are still several more reasons as to why cloud computing is more secure than in-house computing.

Why? Because cloud providers are almost always under intense scrutiny to adhere to established security criteria. While all businesses are required by law to keep customers’ information secure, it’s often left to them as to how they ensure that security, whilst cloud providers will need to comply with a set of frequently checked regulations.

Employee data theft is also much less likely when data is stored in the cloud. When someone has physical access to the computer on which data is stored, it’s easier to steal information. But cloud computing puts a barrier between your data and any potential disgruntled workers.

But still the most standout reason is that cloud service providers are compelled to keep security measures and software up to date since their business models rely on it. Whether it’s a full-time employee or contractors, most cloud providers have staff members who specialise in digital/network security. How many small and medium-sized companies can say the same?

Read more about how to migrate your data securely to the cloud.

  1. Flexibility and Scalability

Businesses can profit from a cloud computing service provider instead of on-premises servers by taking advantage of a lot of flexibility options. As your company expands, cloud services can adapt to rising demand and usage, allowing you to grow without having to worry about infrastructure limitations.

Cloud-based applications and services are purchased on a pay-as-you-go basis, which eliminates the risk of incurring significant business expenditures that may not later meet the businesses needs.

On the back of this, cloud computing is importantly scaleable, and in both directions. If your needs vary massively throughout the year, your cloud computing spend can reflect this. For example, you’ll only need to pay for the data storage you require at a particular time.

Following this, cloud computing is also highly scalable. If your demands vary drastically over the year, your cloud computing costs will reflect this. Alternatively, if your business doesn’t scale as quickly as expected, you can still just pay for the data storage or access you require at a specific moment.

  1. Increased accessibility and collaboration

A huge benefit of cloud computing is that accessing the Cloud is simple. Employees can access relevant company information anytime and anywhere as long as there is internet connectivity, unlike with local servers. People wanting to use their phones to access the Cloud also won’t encounter issues, making working on the go completely feasible.

A huge benefit of cloud computing is that accessing the Cloud is simple. Employees can access relevant company information anytime and anywhere as long as they have an internet connection, unlike with local servers. People wanting to use their phones to access the Cloud also won’t encounter issues, making working on the go completely feasible.

This kind of simplicity of access is a real benefit for the modern workforce, especially after the pandemic, when they are more spread out and remote in their business activities.

Cloud computing also boosts the efficiency and effectiveness of collaborative work. Team members can access and modify the same data because all of it is kept in one location. A log of any modifications or updates is maintained so you know exactly what’s going on and don’t have to worry about different versions of the same file.

With the cloud you can also collaborate with your internal team, as well as clients, partners, and suppliers through a secure channel that uses end-to-end encryption.

Disadvantages of cloud computing

So, with those cloud computing advantages listed it’s all too easy to wonder what the disadvantages of cloud computing are. Whilst these are minor in comparison, it’s still worth listing them so that companies are aware of everything that comes with cloud computing services.

  1. Loss of control

When your data is moved to a cloud environment, you are essentially handing over your crucial information to a third party – albeit a relatively secure one.

Cloud-based applications and services are typically delivered via standardised interfaces, which limits the amount of control businesses have over how those applications are configured and used.

Various cloud service providers will use a “shared responsibility” model, so you’ll need to come up with your own methods for managing your data and activity in the Cloud. There are several effective tools available to enhance visibility and control, for example, using a monitoring solution can help you discover unusual cloud activity and potentially harmful behaviour, which will allow you to take action.

  1. Dependency on a reliable internet connection

An internet cloud infrastructure needs a reliable internet connection – the clue is, unfortunately, in the name.

In order to access cloud resources, users must have a reliable and fast Internet connection. If the connection is interrupted or slow, users may experience degraded performance or be unable to access needed resources.

Plus without an internet connection, you won’t be able to access the cloud which means you have no way of accessing the data you need.

  1. Sudden shut down of service provider

In an experienced industry, you typically deal with one of a few highly regarded companies that have been proven to provide dependable services. But the cloud computing industry is still rapidly developing, and new innovative firms are always vying for business. Because of this, it’s not impossible that your cloud service provider could suddenly shut down permanently.

The more essential the cloud is to your company, the greater disruption a shutdown would bring. This issue is only exacerbated by cloud vendor lock-in, which makes moving from one cloud provider to another difficult and expensive.

Consider it like renting a warehouse and filling it with items. It’s a logistical nightmare to move all of that stuff after you’ve stored it in there. Imagine if your cloud provider shut down without warning and you lost access to the warehouse. That’s what it would be like if your cloud provider went out of business tomorrow.

To mitigate loss of data it’s vital to have a contingency plan arranged with an IT cloud computing support provider (like us), and a recovery plan.

In summary

Cloud computing has a number of advantages, including increased flexibility and scalability, reduced costs, improved efficiency and responsiveness, and security and privacy concerns. While there are some disadvantages to cloud computing, they are outweighed by the benefits businesses can reap from using the technology.

If you’re considering migrating to the Cloud and you’re looking to find out more about your ideal infrastructure, speak to one of our experts today.

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