The Pros and Cons of Cloud Computing

Category: Technology

Metaphorically speaking, “the cloud” represents what’s “out there” in the network. The cloud is where your device ends and the relatively invisible network of shared computing power begins. It can take many forms — from a centrally-located, shared data center where files and resources exist, to a full-featured software application available across a range of devices. The essence of cloud computing is remoteness in data storage, software, and processing power.

Cloud computing provides a host of benefits, especially for global companies. Perhaps the most appealing is the ability to outsource and scale IT infrastructure on an as-needed basis. Rather than maintain in-country equipment and staff to service the growing (or shrinking) needs of a company, cloud services offer a cost-effective way to manage technology resources for your global offices.

This is further extended by the use of cloud-based software, often referred to as Software as a Service (SaaS). The need for expensive license purchases, global distribution challenges, and near-constant upgrading and patching is eliminated when employees use an application hosted in the cloud. Cloud computing also allows for the seamless integration of remote teams and salespeople, wherever in the world they are.

There are some potential drawbacks to cloud computing. With your software and data in the cloud, team productivity requires constant network access, though some cloud-based services allow for offline work with periodic synchronization. This may be difficult in areas where network access is unreliable. Additionally, a service outage at any of your domestic cloud computing providers can instantaneously take your entire team off the job. Privacy and security can also be an issue, though proponents of cloud computing generally argue that security is increased because the service provider has more robust resources to deal with security threats and data integrity. Finally, there is arguably an environmental cost to those massive “server farms” which chew up electricity 24-7 to serve you on demand.

The prevalence of cloud computing services can depend greatly on the countries where you’re doing business, as we discovered in this article. While global networks make the cloud accessible, at times, local legal and compliance issues can create barriers. Some Canadian companies, for example, have refrained from adopting cloud computing platforms due to fears of running afoul of strict privacy laws. In 2012, India’s cloud tech market grew by 70%, though national infrastructure has made universal access dicey. Japan, however, continues to stand out as a provider of both the bandwidth and the legal framework to make cloud computing ubiquitous.

Photo attribution: Daniel*1977