What is Cloud Computing and Why Should I Care?

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With more and more people and organizations accessing the Internet the way business is done is naturally evolving as well.

An example of this is the emergence of cloud computing services. Cloud computing is simply using a network of remote computer systems located somewhere in the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or personal computer at your home or office. Facebook, LinkedIn, Hotmail, Constant Contact and your bank’s ATMs are examples of cloud applications. If you think about it, almost every single application you use today can be (or already is) being put “in the Cloud” where you can access it and pay for it via your Internet browser for a monthly fee, or utility based pricing.

One of the best ways to understand how cloud computing works and why it’s gaining in popularity is to compare it to the way electricity is purchased and used. In the early 1800’s, before electricity was delivered as service, manufacturing plants – or companies – had to generate their own electricity to run their factories and would need huge generators built onsite. Those generators cost a lot of money to build and a lot of money to maintain, but that was the only option at the time.

Fast forward several years after the concept of electricity as a utility was introduced (thank you Thomas Edison), manufacturers didn’t have to be in the power-generation business anymore. They could run their factories and machines with electricity generated by distant power plants delivered by utility companies.

And the reason it worked so well is simple: by supplying electricity this way, power plants achieved economies of scale in which no individual person or company had to generate electricity on their own – and in a very short period of time, it became a competitive necessity to use electricity as a utility because of the cost savings.

What we’re seeing now with “cloud computing” is essentially the same thing. Instead of businesses having to incur the cost and hassle of installing and supporting a complex structure of servers and workstations onsite, they are outsourcing “IT” to the cloud. By doing so, business are saving a lot of money, getting better security and better performance.

Is the Cloud for everybody?  Yes and No.  The increasing use of the web in our personal and social lives as well as in business gives the trend of cloud computing services vast potential. However, this service is not for everyone – for instance, if you have reservations about keeping sensitive information in a location outside your organization, you might want to pass.

If you operate a businesses in Vancouver, or anywhere in Canada for that matter, you need to be concerned about the far-reaching effects of the US Patriot act. To keep your data safe, secure and free from interference, Canadian businesses owners should ensure that they use a “Made-in-Canada” cloud solution.

About Bob Milliken

Bob Milliken is the owner and president of Cascadia Systems Group, a leading provider of enterprise hosting, business continuity, and IT Services to clients throughout the lower mainland. With over 30 years in the IT industry, Bob has provided technology solutions and business consulting services to the transportation industry, aerospace, the national railways, retail auto, wholesale and retail distribution, and professional service associations. Bob learned his trade with technology industry leaders Univac and Microsoft and continues today to keep abreast of technology innovations. Bob is the Master of Disaster and is known for his expertise in Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery planning. His “Save Your Monkey” disaster recovery platform protects small business from unexpected disaster. Bob is also an expert in Cloud Computing. His Made-in-Canada cloud solution is used by small and medium-sized businesses to keep their data safe and out of the reach of the US Patriot act. Bob is the co-author of “What is Cloud Computing and Why Should I Care”, and “I Don’t Care, Just Fix IT”. He is also the author of “Computer Cents”, a series of weekly news articles and blogs that focus on the impact that today's fast changing IT technologies are having on Canadian Businesses, and is a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines. Bob is a member of the Surrey Board of Trade, the Surrey Board of Trade Innovation Council, and Vancouver Rapid Time Networks. In his spare time, Bob is a sailor and appreciates any time that he can spend on the water.

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