The Cloud...Useful or Dangerous?
By: Rachel Pollard 03/11/2015
Cloud computing is a huge part of business these days. An article from Business News Daily back in 2013 estimated that “by 2014, cloud computing is expected to become a $150 billion industry. And for good reason — whether users are on a desktop computer or mobile device, the cloud provides instant access to data anytime, anywhere there is an Internet connection.” Telcoworks claims that “if your organization is not implementing the cloud, you’re already behind.” For many, however, cloud computing seems like a very dangerous idea. So which is it? Are clouds useful or dangerous for your company? Let's look at the pros and cons.
One of the most obvious reasons why cloud computing could be considered useful is its, well, usefulness. PC Magazine shares, “Cloud computing has proven a boon to businesses—especially small businesses, for which it hits a particularly sweet spot. With cloud services, small businesses reap the benefits of not having to deploy physical infrastructure like file and e-mail servers, storage systems or shrink-wrapped software. Plus, the "anywhere, anytime" availability of these solutions, means hassle-free collaboration among business partners and employees using the ubiquitous browser.
Cloud services also provide entrepreneurs, SOHOs, and mom-and-pop outfits access to sophisticated technology without the need of an IT consultant or tech worker on the payroll. In fact, it's not a stretch to say that aside from a locally installed desktop operating system and browser (or increasingly, from a single mobile device) a lot of today's small business technology needs can be fulfilled almost completely with cloud-based offerings.
When your business uses the cloud, your employees can concentrate on other work. The cloud can literally do away with the need for an IT department for many businesses. The cloud updates for free in most cases, as long as your subscription is up to date. Because of the sheer numbers of people depending on the cloud, any issues are usually resolved very quickly. This does not, however, make the cloud invincible.
When you do not have a server of your own, your business can see performance issues since the cloud runs on multiple servers. Each of these servers provides service for many customers, which can lead to many problems. There is also the issue that others can be looking at your data. Basically, you are trusting someone else to look after your information for you. As Steve Santorelli of Scotland Yard points out to Business New Daily, “The downside is that you are abrogating responsibility for your data. Someone else has access to it and someone else is responsible for keeping it safe.”
You are also more susceptible to cyber attacks if you store your data on the internet. Santorelli explains, “The scary thing is the vulnerability to Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks and the concentration of so much data. The single point of failure is the cloud. If something goes bad it impacts a very wide group of people. It's easier to steal and disrupt in bulk.” Threats from the inside are also a problem. If an employee gains access to your information, they can take anything from passwords, to personal data to intellectual property.
You will also have to worry about government access to your information as well as legal liability in a breach of data.
Overall, it can be useful, but also dangerous to use the cloud for your business. The key is to weigh the options, and make an informed decision based on your company's needs.