What is the Cloud?

There has been a lot of talk about cloud computing, or the cloud, over the past several years. But unfortunately, most business owners don’t have a very clear idea about what the cloud is, and how it will benefit their businesses.

In a nutshell, cloud computing is a method of storing and accessing your data, applications, and programs over the Internet, instead of from the hard drive of your computer. Cloud computing utilizes a network of computers to store and process information in order to optimize performance and data transfer speed.

Cloud computing history

The milestone of cloud computing dates back to 1999, when Salesforce.com was first introduced. Salesforce was the pioneer of delivering enterprise applications via a simple website. The company paved the way for both specialist and mainstream software firms to deliver applications via the Internet.

Next came the Amazon Web Services in 2002, which offered a suite of cloud-based services including storage, computation, and human intelligence through the Amazon Mechanical Turk. Amazon later launched its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) in 2006 as a commercial web service that allowed small businesses and individuals to rent computers on which to run their applications. Another big milestone came in 2009, when Google and many others started to deliver browser-based enterprise applications, such as Google Apps.

Cloud computing today

Today’s applications will naturally shift towards a cloud platform as they become more popular through the web, require more data processing, and need to be available on multiple devices, such as PCs, laptops, smartphones, and tablets. Businesses that are looking to implement cloud computing into their operations must take security, data privacy, and network performance into account.

Why you should consider cloud computing

In the past, if you want to take your files with you, your only option would be to save them to a USB flash drive, external hard drive, or a compact disk. But if something were to happen to your portable storage, your precious data would risk being damaged beyond recovery. Transferring your files to the cloud, on the other, hand, will ensure your files’ safety. You can access them from virtually anywhere at any time. What’s more, cloud computing allows you to collaborate with your colleagues more efficiently, by allowing you to share and edit documents online.