If you use an iOS or Android smartphone, you are already a cloud user. Clouds are also increasingly being used by businesses.
Forbes predicts that by 2020, almost 83% of companies around the world will be using clouds in one way or another. Cloud services are becoming an opportunity for organizations and companies of various sizes to make significant changes in their work. Also, the use of the cloud provides an opportunity to significantly reduce operating costs (for the purchase of hardware and software) and access business information from anywhere in the world with access to the Internet.
But is it safe for business and influences the speed of data processing?
Business in the clouds
Let's get this straight. Over the past decade, the word "cloud" in its digital sense has become so fixed in everyday life that it no longer needs to be quoted. A public data cloud is a computer infrastructure (servers, data centers, software, networks) that is used to store and process data online. An organization creates a private cloud for its internal needs.
According to research conducted by the Gartner analytical agency, cloud technologies became the main direction and engine of IT industry development at the end of 2009. The power of computing systems was growing rapidly; information technology was getting deeper and deeper into the business. Users needed equipment that could handle data storage and processing tasks.
"The use of cloud services stimulated the development of esports. The concept of “playing with all the neighborhood” on a home network has become “playing with the whole world”," says Oleg Gumenyuk, CEO at WePlay! Esports. "Today, thanks to cloud-based solutions, thousands of players from around the world can participate in esports tournaments, and millions of viewers can participate — there are no limits on the number of players and audience."
The cloud must solve two substantially opposite problems. Store data that comes in real-time and is expected to get an instant response. As well as data that have been accumulated for years. The cloud architecture must effectively handle both. The idea of "data lake," where data from many sources can be recorded in their original form and processed effectively, seems to have already gained recognition. The architecture of the data lake has evolved significantly with the addition of new real-time processing capabilities. Also, the cloud solution has to scale depending on the needs of the business. Amazon, one of the world's giants in the field of cloud services, calls the advantage of cloud services just the ability to quickly expand volumes while ensuring the security of data storage.
Business in a new way
However, clouds are not just technological changes. It's also a rethinking of how people and organizations work, says Tim Crawford, head of Avoa IT company and one of the 100 most influential cloud technology experts. "Previously, companies needed to build their own strategy, organization, and support around a single technological platform. In the era of the cloud, we are moving to a different level: we can focus on business goals rather than technological features. This is also a sign for other changes," he explains. Crawford considers cloud services to be the basis for the business of the future.
"Today we are negotiating with investors and potential clients of the Ecotechnopark by TECHIIA, the future largest data center in Ukraine," says Oleg Krot, Managing Partner of the TECHIIA holding. "Thanks to the implementation of such a project, in addition to responding to a global request for data storage and processing, our country will receive a large taxpayer, as well as new jobs."
When a business invests in the cloud, it gets both a virtual office and data management options, as well as communication. Availability of the cloud increases productivity: there is no need to adjust to the rhythm of the office center, or even a completely different time zone (in the case of cooperation with foreign customers). Not to mention the convenience: it's easier, for example, to edit a document with colleagues in Google Docs than to send each other attachments with corrections.
And if small and medium-sized businesses can at least get rid of the need to purchase and maintain equipment, large companies have other opportunities. For example, Toyota uses clouds to develop a "unifying platform" for its cars, Business Insider notes. The corporation uses the Microsoft Azure system, which hosts applications that connect the vehicle to the Faсebook or rewards users with ecopoints for using electric cars. Thus, the applications created in the clouds are of great value to users.
"Cloud services contribute to the increase of export of Ukrainian IT developments," says Konstantin Vasyuk, Managing Director of IT Ukraine. "Work in the cloud is beneficial to both parties: developers use secure channels to work with data, and customers — online access to control all processes. Of course, when it comes to a reliable cloud provider with a name and reputation in the market."
The startup boom also came at a time when clouds became popular and accessible. Many startups (like the American IT project Zapier) are experimenting with a complete transition to remote operation. Their business model does not require renting an office or buying office furniture. Clouds like Azure or Amazon AWS allow you to do business from everywhere and even integrate CRM systems to work with clients. That's why it's cheaper and easier to start a business with clouds, and it's possible to expand as much as you need.
Different cloud storage systems solve different tasks. Some store messages from messengers, others are designed to transfer photos or to work with mail. The universal ones allow uploading files of any type and with any extension. Clouds require uninterrupted access, so they are powered by stand-alone electrical generators that provide long hours of operation. Apple, for example, uses solar power for its data centers.
The Apple server company in Arizona is a 120,000 square meter facility that houses hundreds of servers.
According to the State of Remote Work 2018 global survey, 16% of companies have completely switched to remote work, 40% offer two options: both remote and office employment. Comparing this figure with 9% of remote workers in 1995, according to Gallup, we can assume that the emergence of clouds was a serious incentive to give up working in offices.
The main steps you need to take to protect your data in the case of an organization moving to the cloud:
1. Back up your data regularly
Your cloud may seem reliable, but it's worth backing up your data to the server or computer. Regular backups ensure that your valuable information is not lost forever in the event of hacking or theft.
2. Encrypt sensitive data
Encryption is one of the most effective ways to protect your data. By encrypting sensitive data, you ensure that your information is readable only by trusted parties (only those with a decryption key).
3. Use cloud services that encrypt your data by default
Choose a cloud service provider that provides automatic data encryption. It's ideal for companies that want to encrypt all their data in the cloud, as opposed to encrypting it on a case-by-case basis.
4. Take a closer look at your cloud service provider's terms and conditions
Reading between the lines is exactly what you need to do before you sign a contract. Some providers may have the right to use content that you share in the cloud. Be sure to read the terms of the provider and carefully review their data protection policies before using their services.
5. Create a strong password
Secure passwords are an important component of good security, and cloud security is no different in this respect. Passwords must be unique and complex so that hackers cannot guess or use compromised passwords from your other accounts. Change your passwords regularly or if your account has been compromised. If you do, use cloud service providers that offer two-factor authentication.
6. Use antivirus and anti-spyware
No matter how secure your cloud may be, personal data can be at risk when using a device or files that are infected with malware. Antivirus and spyware software can help you avoid the risk of malware.
What about the future?
Cloud services are also part of a new sharing economy trend like Uber or Airbnb. Entrepreneurs continue to conquer the clouds, and therefore new ideas will continue to emerge, changing the way we communicate, work, and run the business.
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