The Advantages and Disadvantages of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing refers to storing and accessing data from a remote server via an internet connection, rather than on a physical, on-site storage device like an HDD or SSD.

Cloud computing is incredibly cost-effective, and this is typically one of the main reasons organisations adopt cloud services. Everything is handled by the cloud service provider, so there’s no need to fork out on things like infrastructure upgrades. Hardware is expensive, and will eventually be out of date – but cloud storage allows the provider to handle this. There are also savings from the reduction of energy use, since cloud storage does not depend on internal power. Cloud storage is scalable, so you only pay for the amount of storage that is required. If your business expands and requires more storage, all you need to do is upgrade your plan. A cloud solution is also very well-suited for businesses that need to access their data from anywhere, such as those with employees who work from home; the cloud provides real-time access to data from any location. Additionally, cloud storage providers place a high degree of emphasis on the reliability of their services, stressing that downtime is incredibly rare.

But while it is certainly true that cloud computing has revolutionised the way we access data – and will undoubtedly continue to do so in the years to come – it is not without its downsides. In fact, many of the benefits of the cloud, in a worst-case scenario, can turn into drawbacks. Cloud downtime is not unheard of. Amazon Web Services, for example, have suffered from several outages over recent years. The storms in Sydney in June 2016 and subsequent power outage led to the failure of servers which hosted critical workloads for several large businesses, leading to around ten hours of downtime. A further AWS outage in 2017 reportedly caused a loss of $150 million for publicly traded companies. Remember, even if you’re being promised 99.9% uptime, that’s still several hours of downtime every year. Similarly, while it’s great that you can access your data from anywhere with an internet connection – that isn’t helpful if, for whatever reason, you don’t have one. Broadband outages are troublesome for businesses that store their data locally, and can be ruinous if you store your data in the cloud. Further to this, if you’re dealing with large files such as 4K videos, you need to make sure you have a sufficiently high-speed connection. There is also a security risk, albeit low, to adopting a cloud computing solution. If you’re storing sensitive data in the cloud and the service is breached, this data will be accessible to cyber criminals. Some services may even contain details in the small print regarding the ownership of the data uploaded to their servers.

Cloud Storage