By John Davis, MD , BCSG

In today’s world, everywhere you look people are on their smart phones or engrossed in whatever it is they are doing on their tablets. It seems that everyone is connected all the time, whether they are at work, at home or out and about. A result of such perpetual connectivity is that applications are being introduced that allow us to have everything we need right at our fingertips. This is where cloud computing comes in. Cloud computing allows us to access our files at anytime, anywhere, whether it’s on a smartphone, tablet or computer. The cloud allows us to interact with, and manage our applications and files irrespective of location or access to your desktop. The one thing you need? An internet connection.

The advantage of this is that as individuals, we can do almost anything on the go, we don’t have to be anywhere near our desktop. It’s also significantly cheaper than using a desktop and a lot less maintenance as software can be rented at low monthly costs rather than a large upfront sum. This can also benefit us in business terms, as it means that smaller companies can afford more applications that will benefit them day to day, whilst larger companies can easily manage their IT across their employees.

The existence of cloud computing allows us to run apps that previously have only been available on desktops; and alongside 4G, which means faster download speeds and greater capacity to deal with demanding services, almost anything you need to do can now be done on the go. This flexibility translates to businesses as well; working outside of the office is now a lot more achievable as you can access what you need on the move, quickly and easily.

Furthermore, the cloud enables you to access your files on all of your devices using a variety of applications via the internet. This means that you don’t need to buy or upgrade the applications, resulting in lower costs and maintenance levels. Applications can also be sourced through the cloud without having to purchase the software to support them or the hardware to access unlimited storage. Combining all these benefits with the fact that you’ll always have the most up to date apps, without having to upgrade, means that whether it’s for work, social or entertainment purposes, you have a whole new level of flexibility.

The benefits for individuals are clear, but the cloud similarly allows businesses to grow without the heavy investment in software that they faced prior to cloud technology. It also means that when purchasing a public cloud you can choose the specific amount of time you want it for, from anything from an hour to two years, meaning you are not tied into a long term contract, once again aiding you in terms of costs and helping cash-flow. With no long term commitment, if a business wants to stop using the cloud and finance another area of their business instead, they are able to do so without having to worry about a long term contract.

All types and sizes of business are benefiting from cloud technology, as providers are making sure that there are packages that suit small, medium and large businesses across different industries. While small companies may want to use a public cloud, which allows for ultimate flexibility, larger companies which may be dealing with more sensitive information and thus require higher levels of security can purchase a private cloud. This gives more control in terms of security and therefore is suitable when sensitive data is involved. The other cloud opinion is a hybrid package, meaning that while some parts of a company may be fine on a public cloud, the other parts of the company can be put on a private cloud.

The benefits of cloud technology are clearly substantial, yet we are still quite near the front of the curve in terms of cloud based service usage. We’re not really into the mass market yet - we’re probably still going through the early adopter phase. It is predicted that there will be a huge uptake in usage of cloud applications by businesses and individuals in the near future, and we will continue to see digital relationships rapidly transform.