Cloud computing is a big technology buzz word right now. If you are an Apple iPhone or iPod user, you might have cloud computingyour music, calendar and contacts stored in the iCloud. But really, what is cloud computing and why should you care?

In its simplest form, cloud computing is a service that delivers an ability to use computer applications or tools that are provided to you as a service, rather than a product. The tools are delivered in a “pay for use” model so, if you use more, you pay more and, conversely, if you use less, you pay less. Think of it as “computing by the drink.” Typically, the delivery mechanism is via the internet, but you can also have a “private cloud” designed specifically for your business, which might be appropriate for applications that are for “internal use only” or must remain highly secure.

Not to confuse you, but there are also applications and tools that are delivered from a cloud computing platform that are priced as a subscription rather than “by the drink.” So, you might pay so much per month for the opportunity to use a given tool as often as you like. You still don’t have to pay what would likely be a much more substantial price to fully acquire it.

Providers are now delivering services via the cloud in several different environments. Don’t let them fool you, regardless of the form, the common thread is that you never have to buy in at the full acquisition cost – you pay to use, either “by the drink” or by subscription:

  • SaaS – Software as a Service has been around for many years. Whether it is free, or for a fee, the online banking application you use to pay bills electronically is SaaS. The poplular CRM application, Salesforce.com, is a SaaS solution that really changed the paradigm as to how businesses started to use CRM systems, showing a great preference for paying “by the seat,” rather than acquiring, implementing and maintaining their own systems.
  • IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service enables you to granularly pay for computing capacity, data storage and network bandwidth based upon how much you use. Commercial providers in this space will give you access to an online portal where you can actually connect and prepare more hardware infrastructure on the fly as you need it.
  • ITaaS – IT as a Service creates an environment where all of your desktop applications are delivered via the cloud in what is called a virtual desktop. Thus, you can easily access all your usual applications while on the road or any time you don’t have access to your office without any letdown in productivity. All you need is an internet connection. Also, Helpdesk and other IT support functions can be provided the same way. This doesn’t necessarily preclude getting technical support via the telephone, but standardizes support delivery in a more cost-effective manner.
  • CaaS – Communication as a Service delivers your telephony, chat and other collaboration tools from the cloud. The technology has improved to the point where Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone call quality is often right up there with traditional TDM solutions and delivered at a significant and predictable cost savings.

Can cloud computing benefit your business? In all likelihood, I would say that is an “absolute YES!” But, where do you start and how do you go about it? Reach out to us: we can help you source a cloud solution that makes sense for your business.

GCN provides businesses, SMB to Enterprise, with voice, data, cloud, colocation and data center services solutions from over 150 partner providers worldwide. Not as the typical telecommunications agency or reseller, but as their technology consultant. We determine and tailor the best solutions to meet our customers’ needs world-wide. We save our clients the time and trouble of managing one or more service providers and leverage the best solutions for them at the most cost effective price.

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