The “cloud” is simply a term for remote storage of data on third party servers, so that a company doesn’t have to maintain an in-house IT infrastructure to manage all aspects of data storage and other essential functions. For that reason, many clouds exist, maintained by a growing number of cloud service providers worldwide – and the cloud a company chooses to use is dictated by its individual needs and the services offered by a particular cloud provider.
Cloud computing offers three key advantages over local data storage and management. In the cloud, data can be accessed all the time, from anywhere an Internet connection is available, making it possible to reach customers and colleagues around the clock for real time interaction and response to new events.
Cloud storage can also help keep data secure and protected from circumstances such as crashes on local servers or hacking of in-house databases. And because data storage, management and other services are handled by a cloud services provider paid on a monthly or yearly basis—rather than by an in-house IT team—cloud storage can keep costs low, while still allowing users the accessibility and support to manage aspects of their data on their own whenever necessary.
Cloud services come in several forms, with varying degrees of functionality and security to meet the widely differing needs of a very diverse user base.
The Public Cloud
Nearly everyone who uses the Internet has used a public cloud at some time. Leading Internet entities such as Google, Microsoft Office, and Adobe’s Creative Cloud make it possible for users to store and access data with a wide variety of apps and management tools for very low monthly or yearly rates. This kind of cloud is public, with a large number of users storing data on a common remote server. Public clouds are typically economical and easy to access by way of standardized user contracts. Public cloud services are offered by a large and growing number of service providers, and while they’re economical and easy to access, businesses with more complex needs and sensitive data might find that this kind of cloud service is not suitable for their needs.
Private cloud services host just one user’s data, meaning there is lower risk of security breaches and a far wider range of custom services to meet the unique needs of a particular business or industry. Large corporations and entities dealing in very sensitive data, such as healthcare providers and insurers, might find that the expense of a private cloud host is balanced by the added security and support it provides.
Hybrid and Multiple Cloud Solutions
Hybrid cloud services combine aspects of both public and private clouds. Some functions, such as data storage, might be handled in a public cloud setting, while others could be managed in a private cloud. Hybrid cloud storage is a form of multicloud computing, or using multiple private and public cloud services in combination to achieve the comprehensive data management that an individual company needs.
Follow along with our blog to continue our mini series on ‘Accounting in the Cloud’!