What is cloud computing

In IT, there is often talk of computing power “from the Cloud”. However, cloud computing is above all not a product or an IT solution, but a modern way of using information technology.

Accessing emails via a website, storing photos online, streaming music - many people are familiar with this. The cloud has long since arrived in private use without most people ever having thought about the term. The principle: parts of IT are outsourced to a service provider's data center - for example, computing capacity, storage space, a firewall, software or the entire telephone system. The user does not need a hard disk or software, just any end device with an Internet connection. Tablet PCs or smartphones work just like a kind of slimmed-down PC without a processor and memory (so-called thin clients). This allows access to all services and data in the data center via the Internet connection.

The term "cloud" comes from the world of programmers: in project sketches, experts simply described the internet as a cloud. The term is as simple as the applications are complex. Cloud computing has long since established itself for special requirements in business life. This is due to the fact that the technical requirements are now available everywhere - first and foremost a high-performance Internet connection. It's obvious: if ten or even a thousand employees use their accounting software or telephone system via the network at the same time, the network must be able to deliver high performance at all times.

Public vs. private cloud

The cloud can be divided into two categories: Public and Private. Public clouds are open to everyone. Anyone who privately stores photos in the cloud or uses free email services does so via this public cloud. Providers also make computing capacity or storage space for company data, as well as software such as ERP or Office, available from their data center via the Internet and companies can access it from anywhere. The advantages are obvious: companies can dispense with the purchase of large parts of their hardware and software and do not have to worry about IT administration. They also always have access to the latest software versions. In addition, companies that obtain IT and applications from the public cloud work much more flexibly.

Private clouds offer more exclusivity and individuality. For example, the service provider manages its customer's servers in highly secure data centers. This exclusivity also means more security. The provider makes the resources available via a specially protected line. This means that sensitive company data and company applications are even better protected against access by third parties. Furthermore, companies can agree additional services with their provider, such as higher availability. However, the high security standards and exclusivity mean a higher price for the service provider compared to the public cloud.

The company does not have to worry about IT

Companies and users no longer have to worry about IT issues themselves: No installation work, no administration, no maintenance. IT as a rented service, so to speak. This gives companies more time for their actual core business. Another plus: with cloud computing, companies can adapt their IT capacity to the course of business. Payment is also only made according to actual consumption - almost like electricity from the socket. For monthly invoicing, payroll accounting or Christmas business, for example, no company has to keep computing power available that is completely oversized for the rest of the time.

Despite all the advantages: Companies in particular need to think carefully about what they want to use the cloud for and which service provider they choose. Questions of IT security, availability and data protection are business-critical for anyone who relies on the cloud.

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