What is Cloud Computing?
There’s a lot of talk about “The Cloud” these days. Your eyes may glaze over at terms like cloud computing, SaaS (software as a service), IaaS (infrastructure as a service) and STaaS (storage as a service). But they all mean roughly the same thing: not knowing where your company’s data is hosted.
You’ve probably used the cloud in your personal life on Facebook®, Twitter®, Gmail® and Kindle®. But it also has huge implications for your business.
In the past three years, most large businesses, and many small- and medium-sized ones, have reduced their overhead and increased efficiency and flexibility by moving certain services to the cloud. CRM, for instance, is now largely hosted on the cloud via Salesforce.com®, which pioneered the concept in 1999.
Traditionally, in order to set up a network, a company buys computers, links them through servers, sets up a local network and hires a third party to maintain these local environments. This requires considerable operational investment in the in-house IT staff, hardware, software and space necessary to maintain these environments. The drawbacks are immense:
- Failures in these traditional networks due to natural disasters, power outages or viruses are huge issues due to the lack of redundancy and the difficulty and expense of frequent backups. A power outage renders data inaccessible.
- Slow remote access makes working from home difficult, and mobile access is impossible.
- Short software lifecycles place pressure on organizations to purchase new versions frequently, and employees are consequently often on different versions.
In the cloud environment, everything you need to run your business, including computing infrastructure, applications and software, is entrusted to a third party and made accessible through the Internet on an as-needed basis. This offers several important benefits:
- Companies don’t have to worry about the expense of maintaining the local network.
- The network is accessible from any device, anywhere.
- Infrastructure and application updates are automatic.
- State-of-the-art firewalls, highly secure access to data and instant, universal security updates mean data stays safe.
In my experience, title agents have been slower in moving to the cloud, due to a perceived loss of control, financial and security concerns, or simply a resistance to change. However, in the increasingly mobile business environment, adoption of this new technology will be key to future success in cost control and information accessibility. Using more cloud-based storage, applications and software will help you improve efficiency and win more business.