"The cloud" may have begun as something of a buzzword, but recent studies prove it has long since grown into something much more meaningful - and important. According to Synergy Research Group, the worldwide cloud computing market grew to $110 billion in value in 2015 alone - a massive 21% increase over the previous year. It's become so important that 41% of businesses are expecting to increase their investment in cloud technologies over the next few years in an effort to remain competitive and better align their technology with their long-term objectives.
But to many, the cloud is more than just a way to store files on the Internet so that they're accessible from any device, anywhere at any time. Understanding a little bit more about what the cloud is and where it came from will go a long way towards helping you realize why it is so essential to your business.
What is the Cloud?
In many ways, the cloud is actually a simple idea that says that software and other virtual assets are no longer "hosted on" or "dependent on" a particular piece of hardware. Think of this in the context of a computer program - something that you and your employees probably use a lot of on a daily basis.
In "the old days," you would purchase a piece of software and install it on a particular machine in your office. If you wanted to use that program, you needed to be sitting in front of that particular machine. Do you need to get some work done while you're at home, but also need to use that one specific program? If you didn't ALSO install it on the desktop in your house, you're out of luck.
With the cloud, however, things change dramatically. That software is no longer installed locally - it's installed on a remote server somewhere in the world and you're accessing it via the Internet. Any computer or device with an Internet connection can access that same piece of software, opening up a whole new world in terms of productivity alone.
This is just one small slice of why the cloud is such a game changer in terms of the way we do business with one another.
You are already in the Cloud
Many of us are already using the cloud without even necessarily realizing it. When you made the decision to upload all of the computers on your iPhone to your Apple online storage account so that they would also be available on your MacBook, that was only possible because of Apple's reliance on the cloud. Shutterfly, Dropbox, OneDrive - these are all examples of widely used cloud-based services.
But even going beyond that, the cloud has changed the way we communicate in other ways, too. Cloud-based phone services like VoIP, free communication from the limitations of space, software and even hardware. With VoIP, you don't need to be sitting at your desk in your office to take a call from a client because everything is handled via the Internet. You can take that same call on your iPhone while you're waiting for your plane to take off, or even from your laptop computer while you're working from home for the afternoon.
None of this would have been possible without a small-yet-essential shift in perspective. Hardware and even the software you install on it no longer matters thanks to how powerful and reliable the Internet has become. Instead, the focus has been placed on value where it should have always been - and the cloud makes it a foregone conclusion that this value is available anywhere, at any time, no exceptions.
Author: Mike Martin
Comtel Communications, a telecom/technology consulting agency based in Richmond, Virginia since 1991, provides best-in-class solutions and unbiased counsel to a diverse group of small, medium, and enterprise-level businesses, totaling more than $18.2M in annual billings. Leveraging unique access to 350+ national and international providers, Comtel benefits its clients through competitive quotes from multiple sources, to ensure their business goals are met with current and dynamic telecom and technology services. Acting as a partner, long after contracts are signed and services are deployed, Comtel offers superb back-office support to manage upgrades, track orders, and provide training to clients.