Understanding the Advantages and Risks of Cloud Computing

You’ve probably heard a lot about “the cloud” recently. Cloud computing consists of storing and accessing data and programs online rather than physically on company computer hard drives. Roughly 75 percent of large companies in the U.S. use cloud computing or are actively considering the cloud.

The cloud has both advantages and risks.

Why use the cloud?

Cloud computing can reduce capital costs. You’ll spend less money on hardware, software, updates, licensing fees and security measures.

Globalize your workforce relatively inexpensively. As long as your employees have an Internet connection, they can access the data they need when they need it, allowing for a more mobile work lifestyle.

Increase revenue. Your business uses fewer people and fewer resources, saving more money.

Get your IT department out of the weeds. Using the services of a cloud computing provider frees up the time of your IT workforce for other projects more directly related to your company’s mission.

The dark side of the cloud…

Loss of control. When you use cloud computing, you hand over control of a vast amount of your data – and its security – to your provider. It is imperative the provider understands your company’s privacy and security needs, as well as any specific rules and regulations that apply to your industry.

Hackers on the horizon. While cloud computing can be more secure than the old server in your storeroom closet, there’s still a risk of attack. Because of their size and significance, cloud environments are favorite targets of hackers. Be sure your provider has access controls and monitoring and assessment practices to protect your data.

Downtime can be a drag. Ask your provider what controls are in place to ensure there’s no loss of Internet connectivity. Losing access, even for a short time, can interrupt productivity, disrupt your business and make your company vulnerable. Does your provider have a disaster recovery plan in place? Is it tested regularly?

Before you chose a cloud computing provider, consider your needs. Ask questions until you feel comfortable and confident with your leap to the cloud.