If you decide that you prefer another option for processing and storing data than on local on-premises resources, you are well advised to take a look at the Cloud. Cloud services rely on the use of remote resources – servers, storage, data center space, and software – hosted on the Internet to process and store your data for you.
To suit your current situation there are various levels of Cloud services available on the ‘cloud services spectrum’. At one (the low) end is IaaS or ‘Infrastructure as a Service’. At this level the Cloud provides an unmanaged level of mutually agreed upon resources at a mutually agreed upon monthly rate and term. At the other (the high) end is PaaS or ‘Platform as a Service’. At this level the Cloud provides tools and management services for application development and deployment on a scalable as needed basis with an SLA guaranteeing uptime, etc. Many variations of the Cloud concept offering effective services exist between these two ends. In addition, another type of cloud service is SaaS, or ‘Software as a Service’. SaaS refers to delivery of an application by an application vendor whereby the application software is hosted offsite, generally at the vendor’s site, and accessed by a user remotely.

Why the Cloud?

Scarce financial resources otherwise earmarked for hardware, software, professional services, and support can be allocated toward business-critical application deployment. By focusing company efforts in this way, all-important productivity improvements are recognized – free of the worry and time necessary to maintain the IT platform.

The expectation is that a Cloud solution will be cheaper than a premises model. Since the use of the Cloud is scalable, only required resources are utilized. In addition, financial resources otherwise allocated for capital expenditures are dramatically reduced. Of course, there are on-going monthly expenses for the Cloud service, bandwidth, etc., and they can be considerable. At this juncture, a rigorous feasibility /ROI study must be performed.

One need only read the news to understand that hackers may access and steal confidential information. It is important to realize that the potential for such activity exists in the cloud environment, and users are advised to make sure their security needs are met by their cloud provider.

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