Last year, a piece of research from Citrix raised a few eyebrows and made many more headlines when it claimed that the level of understanding around cloud computing was so low that over half of the respondents thought bad weather could interfere with it. Quite funny for those of us in the know, as I’m sure you’ll agree, but all jokes aside, there is still a great deal of confusion amongst the business community as to what cloud computing actually is and how it can help your business.
Cloud has become one of those buzzwords that everyone uses in a throwaway manner and it has gotten to the point where it is a bandwagon many have jumped on without even to pause to ask: "what can it do for me?"
One of cloud computing’s biggest problems is its name. "We’ve moved that data to the cloud" or "it’s running from the cloud" are phrases that are often bandied about. In one way, it is marketing genius – everyone knows what a cloud is, and as concept names go, it has really caught on. The main problem is that a cloud conjures an image of detachment, of something far away – out of ordinary reach, and this is exactly what cloud technology is not.
The image of the cloud as a remote object, storing your data has framed in peoples mind what cloud computing actually is. How it really needs to be understood is in terms of how that computing power is delivered – and that is anything but remote.
Cloud technology has the power to transform how businesses are run, and how workers go about their daily lives. Mobile technology is key to this, and recent advances can bring even the most distributed and fluid workforces closer together, a million miles from the idea of solitary floating pillow of gas.
The right infrastructure for access
It’s all well and good to ‘move that data to the cloud,’ but without the correct infrastructure, it’s not going to be of much use to anybody, and that move that was supposed to deliver efficiencies and cost savings could soon appear to be an expensive folly. Can that data be accessed safely and securely from a wide range of devices, some of which may be the employee’s own
And can you deliver a range of corporate applications that can be delivered to the user as and when they need them with the reassurance of policy based controls?
If the answer is no, or I’m not sure, to these questions, then you’re certainly not maximising the potential of how the cloud can transform your business and way of working.
Security is always of great concern to IT decision makers around the topics of cloud, mobility and corporate data, and justifiably so. Reputations of whole organisations can depend on their ability to ensure that they do not suffer a data breach. Tales of sensitive, unencrypted data on a USB key or laptop, lost in pub, or stolen from a worker’s home, make the headlines regularly and can seriously damage an organisation’s image.
It would be easy to dismiss this as a consequence of mobility – if it’s not bolted down, it is liable to be lost or stolen at any time. Mobile workers need access to data on the go, and there is no avoiding this. However, with the right delivery technology and with adequate controls in place, these situations are ultimately avoidable. Data can be accessed via the cloud, and how it is used can mean that it never actually resides on the device, so even if a smartphone or tablet is lost or stolen, without the correct security credentials, any corporate data would be inaccessible.
This is just one of many examples of how the delivery defines how the cloud can work for an organisation. The cloud is a sum of constituent parts, but without the correct delivery mechanism in place, all of the data or applications in the world are without use or purpose.
The cloud is in your pocket. The cloud is on the table in front of you on the train as you travel between meetings. The cloud is on your colleague’s desk, but it doesn’t stay there. It moves where the worker needs it to be and it up to the business how it is delivered, on their terms.