Clouds have the ability to carry tons of water before raining and making our cars dirty. They provide protection from the blistering sun, sometimes take the form of rabbits or a random face, not to mention they are very fluffy. They do, however sometimes cause a lot of thunder and scare plenty of pooches. However, we won’t be talking about the weather in this article. Instead we are going to explore the fascinating and exciting concept of cloud computing.

In simple terms, cloud computing means storing and accessing programs and data over the internet instead of your computer’s hard drive. The cloud is therefore just a metaphor for the Internet.

Using cloud storage or cloud software instead of hardware has its fluffy moments, but also its bit of thunder.

So let’s get into the Pro’s and Con’s for using the cloud:

Pro’s

No need to purchase expensive servers and big hard drives
That’s right. You don’t have to set up a mini-Google facility to store your files. The cloud companies have maaaaaasive storage facilities for you to use. Further, they have very smart engineers looking after these clouds ensuring they remain fluffy.

No more e-mailing big files in multiple parts, instead share a link to the file
Ever tried to e-mail a file the size of the moon? Did it work? Most likely not. A solution was to archive the moon in e-mail bite sizes (usually around 10mb) and send all those little bites in separate e-mails. The recipient would then have to stand and wait for all the pieces to arrive and unzip them to access the file. Not an easy task when doing this with a technologically challenged person… The cloud enables you to share this moon in one bite.

Access the data from anywhere on the planet
Whether you are on holiday surfing, at the grocer for Oreo cookies or having stomach aches you will have direct access to your data (as long as you have an internet connection of course).

Access the data on any device
Besides a Nokia 3310 and certain toasters, you can access cloud storage facilities on any smart device with a browser installed. With technology evolving so fast these days, we won’t be surprised if toasters will be able to join the club soon.

Access the data any time
No need to first go to the office to access the files. The cloud is active and awake 24/7, which means that you can access your files during any time of the day.

An excellent tool for disaster recovery
This is one of the fundamentals of risk management. Seeing as cloud storage is an offsite backup, this makes for a great disaster recovery item. For instance: Let’s say that the unfortunate event happens that your office building got burnt down. Any and all files that were cuddling safely in the cloud would still be there waiting for you.

Cost effective
No maintenance on servers and no internal power required to store data on the cloud. Except of course to power your router…

Unlimited storage space
Why buy hard drives with 1,000,050 GB storage space when you only need the 50GB? With the cloud you generally pay for what you use.

A Ransomware insurance plan
If you sync your files on your device to the cloud, and the files on that device gets encrypted by a dirty ransomware infection, then the cloud might have several back up versions that you may recall. Once the ransomware rash have been cleared up of course.

More secure than on site servers
Remember that thunder we mentioned in the beginning? Or perhaps the rain? Both of these elements on their own or in combination have the ability to damage or even destroy your little server sitting in a lonely office space. Furthermore, have you ever read the amazing news article of a burglar stealing some clouds? Neither have we, need we say more? The added benefit of this safer option is that online companies that are very serious on cyber security will be more likely to do business with you when they know you are protected in the cloud.

Con’s

Fully dependent on an internet connection
No internet. No cloud. That’s it.

Bandwidth intensive
When you are working on relatively big files in the cloud, the uploading and downloading of data may take up most of your internet pipe, making it hard for other connections to squeeze past. In some cases this might disrupt certain operations.

High data costs when downloading and uploading lots of files
Let’s be honest, internet costs in South Africa is still on the plus size, and if you don’t have a proper uncapped internet facility in place, then don’t be surprised when all your data is used up in 23 seconds flat.

If you are not careful, it can be easy to share / access sensitive information
Most cloud storage facilities allow the easy sharing of files or folders to other people by sending them a link to these files or folders. Problem is, if proper control is not exercised on the sharing of the link, then anyone who gets their hands on the link has access to the files / folders.

Not always ransomware proof
So, you are using the cloud as backup storage. You were clever enough to ensure that the cloud automatically syncs certain folders on your device to the cloud so you don’t have to manually perform cloud backups. But when ransomware encrypts your files, the cloud will still sync those files to your backup. Luckily, most cloud facilities have more than one version of backups available. Besides, the big cloud companies have sharpened up their security after the ransomware spread.

Sometimes running costs can be high
This is naturally determined by what cloud facilities you require. If you are considering hosing your entire tech or app-development software off the cloud, while storing terabytes of data, then the monthly fees may be relatively high. On the other end of the spectrum, if you only have a little tea shop and want to host a few apps and your website in the cloud, then it becomes a very easy decision. In any case, the feasibility of cloud hosting and on site servers needs to be determined to make the comparison. Just don’t base your decision on price only, because as you can see above, the cloud has a lot more advantages than not. Besides, the cloud is the future and has become a lot more affordable for everyone to use.

Now, imagine your accounting records in the cloud. No software to buy, complete mobile access anytime, anywhere, on any device and you can rest assured that your records are secure and backed up offsite.

Just make sure you have a decent uncapped internet facility, otherwise your internet bill might require the selling of a kidney or two.

Bester Accounting appreciates that cloud computing is the future. It not only makes perfect business sense (added security, mobile, cheaper, etc.), it also increases the efficiency of the way you do business and collaborate with your team. Small businesses can therefor leverage this technology and grow beyond their wildest dreams.

So get your head in the clouds. Make the transition and take your business to new fluffier heights. I think you’ll find the view from up there to be something you have never experienced before. See you up there!