Businesses can’t seem to stop talking about cloud computing. It feels like the term is everywhere, with many companies acting like it’s the solution to every issue your organization faces. There’s little doubt that the cloud has become extremely popular in the past few years, but some companies are reluctant to take that final step. Your company might be one of them, constantly asking basic questions like, “What is cloud computing?”, expressing concerns about such a major transition, and essentially feeling uneasy about the cloud and all that it offers. While there’s nothing wrong with showing a little bit of caution with new technology, worries over your company’s readiness for the cloud might be a bit overblown. In fact, you’re likely already using it, even if you don’t know it.
Odds are, your business has already moved to the cloud in some form. According to a survey conducted by RightScale in early 2014, an impressive 87 percent of organizations said they were using a public cloud. That number is just the latest in a steady stream of growth that has happened for years as more businesses become aware of the cloud. There are good reasons behind this rate of adoption. The cloud offers numerous benefits for companies to take advantage of, including more cost savings, better business continuity, and more streamlined operations. The cloud is also easily scalable, able to help companies handle increased demands on a day-by-day basis.
Perhaps these benefits, however, are still not convincing enough for you or your organization. It might comfort you to know that your company is likely already using cloud computing. The cloud is not just a service offered by innovative and aggressive startups, intended for niche audiences and specific industries. If anything, cloud computing has gone mainstream. Major tech companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google offer cloud services, each competing with each other for market share by slashing prices on what seems to be a routine basis. Perhaps you’ve even heard of some of those offerings. Amazon Web Services is the leading cloud provider, though Microsoft Azure and Google Drive are very competitive as well. If you’ve accessed any of those services from your computer, you’re using the cloud.
Beyond specific brands, a number of services are also routinely used by businesses, services that your company likely utilizes as well. Take something as simple as email. In today’s always-connected business culture, access to an email account is needed almost around the clock, and since that access should be granted from any connected device from laptops to mobiles, the email service must use the cloud. This is especially important in conjunction with the wave of growth surrounding bring your own device (BYOD) policies in the workplace. If your company uses email, chances are you’re already familiar with how the cloud basically works. The alternative to a cloud-based email service — a locally hosted exchange server — is simply too complicated and costly for most companies.
Beyond things like email, organizations tend to use the cloud for many other services. File backup on the cloud is a crucial part of any business’s strategy, allowing them to backup data that can help get the company back on its feet in the event of a major breach or disaster. Many companies also use the cloud to host their website, which also helps them take care of e-commerce issues that would normally require a lot of investment in time and money. File sharing is another service widely utilized by many businesses, making it easy for employees and managers to collaborate and communicate with each other and clients. Almost every business application now used in the workplace, such as time management programs or customer relationship management software, are delivered via the cloud. If you use one or all of these services, you are using the cloud.
Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that you’re already familiar with the cloud even without knowing it. After all, cloud computing has become prevalent in the business world with its influence only poised to increase. Even so, if you still feel uncomfortable with the idea of using the cloud, spend some time getting to know the basic services you use on a daily basis. They can be stepping stones to a vastly more productive and connected worklife that will pay big dividends as your cloud knowledge matures.