Understanding How the Cloud Works

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The term ‘Cloud Computing’ is everywhere, and it is very likely that you have access to a cloud service, even if you aren’t using it.

Many online email services now offer cloud data storage with their email, to allow users to upload files to attach to emails and then store them. There is an increasing number of cloud services available that offer lots of different conveniences to consumers and businesses alike.

What Are the Advantages of Using a Cloud Service?

The advantages of using cloud data storage are easy to see. You can have access to files wherever you have access to the internet, meaning you don’t have to carry around USB hard drives or CD-ROMs to edit or share important documents and photographs.

Many businesses can also use cloud computing to reduce hardware costs by centralizing expensive hardware or software for use remotely by employees. In this scenario, employees use their computers or devices as terminals to access more powerful software and hardware online, and this reduces the cost of the devices that employees use every day. This also makes hardware and software maintenance quicker and easier, increasing productivity.

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What Types of Cloud Services are There?

The cloud services that consumers and businesses can use are generally split into three groups; Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

Infrastructure as a Service is rapidly becoming popular with businesses, as it can give companies access to powerful hardware for a fraction of the cost. With IaaS, a company can temporarily hire a huge amount of data storage or hours of powerful processing power on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Software as a Service is similar to online email services, but users have access to more complex applications like accounting and marketing programs. Here a company will access software online and use the cloud computer’s processing power and databases to complete their work, cutting down on the need for computing power on the business premises.

Platform as a Service is great for small businesses that want to offer online purchasing without having to develop own their payment platform. By using another company’s platform, a small business can create its own unique site that runs on a PaaS server and uses its payment processing solutions and data protection software.

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Are There Any Disadvantages to Using a Cloud Service?

Cloud computing offers a lot of convenience to consumers, but with benefit comes risk and there are some risks to relying on cloud services.

If you suffer a disruption in your internet access, you will lose access to your cloud services, which can be devasting to a small business’ workflow. There are also online security threats that target cloud services, seeing them as a rich source of consumer data to harvest and sell online to criminal organizations. There are ways to protect yourself and your business when using cloud services, and you can find out more about cloud security at www.mcafee.com, where there is a suite of software designed to protect businesses from online threats.

Cloud services can offer convenience and cut costs, but this shouldn’t come at the cost of the security of consumer data.