Simply put, cloud computing is the delivery of a range of computing services over the web. Traditionally, people used to run downloaded software programs on their computer’s memory using the computer’s processing power. However, with the advent of cloud computing technology, people can access not only software services but also a range of other computing services such as servers, data storage, analytics and networking over the internet. All that is required is simply an internet browser and a device with an internet connection.

Cloud computing has been adopted into the mainstream very fast, due to the wide range of benefits that it offers. Companies ranging from IT companies to e-commerce companies, to government organizations and institutions are now offering their services through the cloud. Here we delve into the advantages and disadvantages that cloud computing offers to both businesses and individuals alike.

What are the advantages of cloud computing?

  1. Flexibility and scalability; Cloud computing is ideal for businesses with changing demands in computer services. If a company’s need for cloud infrastructure goes up, then they can easily scale up their cloud capacity to meet the growing demand. On the other hand, if their need for cloud infrastructure goes down, they can also scale down as needed. This capability gives companies operational agility which is a real advantage over their competitors.
  2. Automatic software updates; Cloud providers usually provide a cloud service model known as Software as a Service (SaaS). One of the benefits of this model is that it ensures that software vendors take care of regular software and security updates on behalf of the users. Thus, users don’t have to worry about routine software maintenance practices which enables them to concentrate more on their core businesses.
  3. Cost savings; Cloud computing eliminates the capital expenses that come with acquiring hardware such as servers and data storage devices. In addition to this, it also eliminates the costs of running and maintaining this hardware equipment and data centers. Businesses are charged on a pay-as-you-go model which is dependent on their usage of cloud infrastructure.
  4. Collaboration; Cloud computing has made collaboration between different companies and individuals much easier. A cloud environment facilitates seamless sharing and integration of information from different parties in a given business. For instance, different employees at different locations, can meet virtually and contribute in real-time to a given project through shared storage via the cloud.
  5. Disaster recovery; Cloud computing offers an easy and efficient avenue through which individuals and small businesses can securely store their data and later access it in cases of disasters such as hardware failure or unprecedented data loss. Cloud-based backup and recovery solutions also save time and money used in robust recovery systems.

What are the disadvantages of cloud computing?

  1. Limited control; Since cloud infrastructure is owned, managed and operated by the cloud service provider, users seldom have control over the cloud infrastructure or perform any key administrative tasks such as update and customization. Users only control and manage applications built on top of the cloud infrastructure.
  2. Occasional downtime; Technical outages are inevitable and occasionally occur when the cloud service provider’s infrastructure is overwhelmed by the number of users using their system. This can lead to temporary suspension of certain business operations which can affect your business.

In general, cloud computing is a beneficial technology to most business enterprises since it enables them to forget about infrastructure management and instead focus their energies and competencies in their core business operations. This has made various businesses more productive and profitable in the long run. On the flip side, it also has a few limitations which have to be leveraged for success while using these services.