1. What is the Cloud?
The cloud is virtual and therefore does not require any hardware of your own to deliver a service. Cloud technology can deliver that service to you, without having to install anything or have it on a server at your business. This is something that you can access remotely, or via the Internet through your web browser. Offsite, secure third party data centers manage all of your cloud data so that you can access it at your convenience.
2. You May Already be Using the Cloud
Are you using Gmail? Amazon Music? A Kindle? Dropbox? These are all cloud services that store the data you access. All you have to do is log in to their servers to get what you need. If you use an Apple iPhone or iPad, then you're familiar with the iCloud service, the cloud technology that allows you to sync and upload your photos and contacts.
3. Why Use the Cloud?
The cloud is convenient for accessing and backing up data no matter where you go. With it, you can access servers anywhere, rather than just locally from your office. This allows you to perform your job duties at home and on the go! There is no need to carry around (and risk losing) USB drives with sensitive information on them. If you lose that USB drive, then your files are gone forever. If you back them up to the cloud or store them there, however, you can easily retrieve that data.
4. Why is the Term “Cloud” Used?
There is both a literal and figurative meaning here. Have you ever laid down in the grass, and looked up at the clouds in the sky? Oh, look, an elephant! A boat! Oh nice, a dinosaur! But the person next to you may not see the same shapes. They may see a sandwich, a skyscraper or an airplane in the clouds instead. The possibilities are almost endless, and not everyone has the same vision. Cloud technology is similar, offering a plethora of possibilities to help support and scale your business. Also, clouds are generally always above us. Just head on up, and grab whatever you need on-demand. The sky is always accessible.
So, you can store and access files in the Cloud. You can use cloud-hosted applications, like Gmail and GoogleDocs. Finally, the cloud gives you access to your data anywhere with a network connection. This all sounds great, right? It is, but as with anything on the Internet, these services need to be used responsibly. Is your IT services provider helping to manage this?