Cloud computing is talked about a great deal these days, with providers across the board encouraging small businesses to make the leap into a new world of technology, where, if the hype can be believed, all of their virtual dreams will come true. Unfortunately, these same providers are not being terribly forthcoming with their definition of what exactly the cloud encompasses. Some providers advertise it as a service, some as infrastructure, but all say that they can give companies exactly what they want. For a small business, however, sorting out fact from fiction can prove difficult.
There are two main “types” of clouds – public and private, and businesses should start by understanding these. Public clouds are just that – public. These clouds use shared technology distributed over the Internet to allow companies access. Private clouds, meanwhile, use technology owned by a company to provide services over an internal network.
When it comes to actually using the cloud, there are a number of ways that are common for small businesses. The first is to use cloud technology as a software as a service (SaaS) platform. In this case, software that would normally be installed on a desktop is installed and run on the cloud instead, freeing up space at a local level. Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), meanwhile, is when a company will rent data space from a provider and can move some or all of their storage to a cloud server.
These cloud types and services can all be of benefit to a small company, but it is important to start with what is needed and scale up, rather than take the hype to heart and jump into the most robust cloud offering that is available.