We all know how the IT industry loves to use buzzwords for all sorts of products those words don't really apply to. That's the case with cloud computing and old-fashioned hosting.
Both are hosted off-site and accessed through an Internet connection. But the way they work under the bonnet is very different — and that has a big impact on how well your IT will support your business in the future, in a world where collaboration, innovation and digital transformation are the keys to success.
Hosted applications are typically purchased and owned by your business, installed on a remote server and accessed over a secure network connection using client software installed on the user's device. These applications are not typically web-enabled and require network infrastructure capable of running a virtual private network (VPN) and enabling software such as Remote Desktop/Terminal Services or Citrix.
Cloud applications are fully web-enabled, so that all you need to use them is a web browser running on any device in any location. You can run your own software in a cloud set-up, either using Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS). With IaaS, the cloud provider simply gives you access to physical resources such as servers, bandwidth, network connections and storage capacity, but you’re responsible for managing everything running on top of that, including the operating system. PaaS solutions add a layer of tools — such as databases, file storage and software development tools — as well as the operating system, all managed by the cloud provider. That means your team can focus entirely on coding, testing and deploying applications.
In addition, many cloud applications, such as G Suite, are provided as Software as a Service (SaaS), supporting many businesses using shared infrastructure. The cloud provider owns and manages the software as well as the servers, and provides a secure connection all the way to your browser. You pay an annual license fee, which may be based on how much you use the system or on how many user accounts you need.
Here are four areas where cloud computing give you an advantage over old-fashioned hosting:
1. Building a Digital Workplace.
Disconnected, legacy processes and systems can slow work down and make it harder for colleagues to collaborate effectively. Mobile and remote workers are especially badly served by hosted applications.
Cloud-based apps like G Suite are designed from the ground up to allow coworkers across the globe to create, edit and view documents together — as if they were working next to each other. With web browser access, your team can use any device, running any operating system, to access company resources, without the need to install — and manage — additional software. Integrated calendars, mail and video conferencing in G Suite make scheduling virtual meetings a breeze. The result? Decisions can be made more quickly and it's easier for people to brainstorm and innovate.
2. Adding Location Intelligence.
Seeing data plotted on a map can help us make sense of information that would be impossible to understand in a spreadsheet. And knowing where a device is right now lets us provide users with more relevant information, services or security. Adding geolocation to your operations can help you make better decisions more quickly, improve customer experience and engagement, and support mobile workers more effectively.
Cloud-based solutions like the Google Maps Platform make it easy to add location data and functions to web, mobile and custom apps, through powerful APIs. You can also quickly enrich your applications with relevant data from external sources, and overlay and visualise your own data on standard maps. With Google Maps, businesses also benefit from a solution that’s familiar to users and easy to use, covers 99% of the world, and receives up to 25 million updates each day.
3. Creating an Agile Infrastructure.
Rather than running your IT on specific hardware, the way traditional hosting does, cloud computing uses a large pool of shared infrastructure to give you as much computing power as you need at any time. That means you can scale quickly, from zero to millions of transactions — and back down again — in seconds, without spending time purchasing and provisioning hardware.
You can also quickly tap into the latest tools for: data analysis and business intelligence; managing fast-growing digital assets like video; and exploiting the Internet of Things. That lets you concentrate on getting value out of your data or developing new revenue streams right now, without first spending time setting up your own complex and expensive infrastructure. With pricing models that include per-second billing, Google Cloud Platform also ensures you only pay for what you use.
4. Enabling Rapid Application Development.
To deliver digital transformation and innovation, you need a development process that lets you quickly launch intuitive and secure new apps or easily update existing ones. Cloud infrastructure lets you spin up new production servers in seconds without having to worry about procuring and configuring new hardware. Cloud storage takes away the headaches of worrying about storing, accessing and backing up your data. And the Google Cloud Platform offers a wide range of familiar development environments, APIs and other tools that support agile software development. All of that lets you deliver and deploy production-quality code to support new business processes and features every few weeks rather than every few years.
As a Google Cloud Premier Partner, we spend our time helping organisations like yours deliver game-changing transformations to the way they work using cloud technologies. If you want to find out more about how your business can benefit from the genuine shift in IT provided by cloud computing, why not come and talk to the experts in our business transformation team.
First published 10/2018