For those who are unfamiliar with its usage, cloud computing is essentially a system of utilising computer services over the internet. And though its increasing adoption by businesses seems to suggest it’s some sort of new-fangled technology, the phrase has been around since the mid-nineties, while the concept itself predates that by a few decades.
Nevertheless, cloud computing offers plenty of benefits to businesses, from safeguarding essential data and reducing costs to boosting collaboration amongst teams. Despite the numerous advantages, it’s perhaps surprising to note that a third of businesses are still not taking full advantage of the cloud.
If you’re in the dark about cloud computing, or your business remains unconvinced by what you’ve heard, then we’ll run through some of the benefits the technology offers, as well as how to comply with GDPR legislation when using the service.
How can cloud computing help your business?
- Reduced costs
If you’re in the habit of purchasing, managing and upgrading your IT systems, then you’ll know that it can be a costly – and constant – endeavour. Moving to the cloud can reduce the amount your business spends on these processes thanks to one-time payments, ‘pay as you go’ models and other customised packages. And since the costs of IT maintenance and upgrades are reduced, it takes away the need for specialised staff to keep your infrastructure up and running too, freeing up money that you can then use elsewhere.
Rather than creating a rigid office environment, cloud computing benefits the modern business by providing plenty of flexibility since documents can be stored in the Cloud and accessed securely at any place and at any time. This allows employees the chance to work through their duties away from the office, whether it’s at home, in a coffee shop or in an airport departure lounge, for instance.
As a result – if you so wish – you can reduce the number of workstations in your office and allow some employees to work from home permanently, which can further save costs.
Another element of cloud computing’s flexibility is it is readily scalable to match your business’s growing infrastructure. The usual method of planning for unexpected growth is to purchase additional servers, storage and licenses and wait for growth to occur. However, it can take years before you actually use any of the resources you’ve kept on standby for all this time.
Cloud computing, however, makes the process much easier since you can get additional storage space and features whenever you require them. Depending on the situation, your provider will scale up and down things such as memory, storage or operational requirements in minutes – you just need to meet their cost.
- Increased collaboration
Files can be accessed from any location, updated in real time and worked on concurrently from anywhere in the world, allowing staff productivity and collaboration to increase as a result. Indeed, stats published by the Cloud Security Alliance have shown than 79% of companies receive regular requests from users to buy more cloud applications – with file sharing and collaboration said to be one of the top-requested cloud services.
The kind of collaborative working style hardwires itself into the company culture, boosting staff morale in the process and making your business a more attractive place to work.
- Improved security
If your business stores data on physical servers and data centres, you can leave yourself open to suffering the consequences of a security breach. However, if you have data stored on the cloud, you can delete confidential information remotely or move it to a different account. Attempting to breach security measures on cloud platforms isn’t easy, making it a great option if you’re looking to improve your data security.
Certain cloud providers even back up data to additional remote servers, eliminating data loss entirely. Additionally, providers perform regular security audits, ensuring sensitive information is kept under lock and key at all times.
- Reduced risks and faults
Keeping everything on the cloud can help with disaster recovery too. Floods, fire, theft and technology outages can all stop a traditional office setting from fully functioning. Keeping things on the cloud ensures the business can stay up and running in the event of your office going out of commission for a period of time.
Disasters can also lead to permanent data loss if no backup storage has been put in place. Cloud computing requires no such effort; the data will always be available provided users have an internet connection.
How can cloud computing help the environment?
- Reduced energy use
An on-site data centre eats up power and energy, requiring a constant power supply for servers and a cooling system to avoid overheating. Since cloud computing eliminates the need for such things, power and energy usage decreases accordingly.
- Fewer greenhouse gas emissions
A traditional on-site data centre produces its fair share of greenhouse gas throughout its life cycle through the following:
- Production of raw materials needed for the equipment
- Assembling the equipment
- Transporting the equipment to the on-site data centre
- Using the equipment
- Disposing of equipment when its lifecycle ends
The cloud decreases the rate of carbon emissions by reducing energy requirements and consumption. Research has shown that through cloud computing, large companies can reduce their per-user carbon footprint by 30% and up to 90% for small enterprises.
Dematerialisation refers to the replacement of high-carbon physical products with virtual equivalents, helping to reduce energy use and the associated carbon footprint. Migrating to the cloud means using fewer machines and less hardware, which in turn means producing less energy and lowering the negative impact energy can have on the environment. This also results in lower energy bills, freeing up capital that can then be more readily allocated to profitable projects.
For businesses making a move to more environmentally conscious approaches, the reduction of physical products means less potential waste from the disposal of such products. And if going paperless is on the cards, then cloud storage options such as Dropbox, SharePoint and Google Drive can help streamline the process. With these programs, there’s no more need to print documents, take up space in the office storing them and, crucially, negatively impacting the environment.
Cloud computing and GDPR compliance
- Familiarise yourself with the location of where cloud apps store and process data: Contact the app vendor’s headquarters about where your data is being hosted. It’s rarely stored at the headquarters, and can be moved around an app’s data centres, so it’s worth educating yourself on its location(s).
- Protect personal data from loss, alteration or unauthorised processing: Make sure you know which apps meet your security standards. From here, either block or implement controls for the ones that don’t. Netskope can show which of your apps are lacking, demonstrating a collection of parameters, comparing yours against similar apps that may be preferable.
- Collect necessary data and limit the processing of special data: In your data processing agreement, specify that only the personal data needed to perform the app’s function are collected by the app from your users or organisation. Place limits on the collection of certain “special” data, which are defined as those revealing details such as race, ethnicity and religion.
- Don’t allow cloud apps to use personal data for other purposes: State in your data processing agreement, and through app due diligence, that apps state clearly in their terms that the customer owns the data and that no data is shared with third parties.
- Ensure that you can erase the data when you stop using the app: Ensure that your app’s terms clearly state you can download your own data immediately, and that the app will erase your data once you’ve ended its service.
CDL is one of the UK’s leading IT disposal companies, working alongside big-name brands in all industry sectors. To find out how we could help your business, or for more of the latest tech news and advice, visit our homepage or call our team today on 0333 060 2846.