Advantages of Cloud Computing for Networks - dummies

Advantages of Cloud Computing for Networks

By Doug Lowe

Cloud computing is a different — and, in many ways, better — approach to networking. Here are a few of the main benefits of moving to cloud-based networking:

  • Cost-effective: Cloud-based computing typically is less expensive than traditional computing. Consider a typical file server application: To implement a file server, first you must purchase a file server computer with enough disk space to accommodate your users’ needs, which amounts to 1TB of disk storage.

    You want the most reliable data storage possible, so you purchase a server-quality computer and fully redundant disk drives. For the sake of this discussion, figure that the total price of the server — including its disk drive, the operating system license, and the labor cost of setting it up — is about $10,000. Assuming that the server will last for four years,that totals about $2,500 per year.

    If you instead acquire your disk storage from a cloud-based file sharing service, you can expect to pay about one fourth of that amount for an equivalent amount of storage.

    The same economies apply to most other cloud-based solutions. Cloud-based e-mail solutions, for example, typically cost around $5 per month per user — well less than the cost of setting up and maintaining a Microsoft Exchange Server.

  • Scalable: So what happens if you guess wrong about the storage requirements of your file server, and your users end up needing 2TB instead of just 1TB?

    With a traditional file server, you must purchase additional disk drives to accommodate the extra space. Sooner than you want, you’ll run out of capacity in the server’s cabinet. Then you’ll have to purchase an external storage cabinet. Eventually, you’ll fill that up, too.

    Now suppose that after you expand your server capacity to 2TB, your users’ needs contract to just 1TB. Unfortunately, you can’t return disk drives for a refund.

    With cloud computing, you pay only for the capacity you’re actually using, and you can add capacity whenever you need it. In the file server example, you can write as much data as you need to the cloud storage. Each month, you’re billed according to your actual usage. Thus, you don’t have to purchase and install additional disk drives to add storage capacity.

  • Reliable: Especially for smaller businesses, cloud services are much more reliable than in-house services. The reason for the increased reliability of cloud services is simply a matter of scale. Most small businesses can’t afford the redundancies needed to make their computer operations as reliable as possible.

    By contrast, cloud services are usually provided by large companies such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and IBM. These companies have state-of-the-art data centers with multiple redundancies for their cloud services. Cloud storage may be kept on multiple servers so that if one server fails, others can take over the load.

    In some cases, these servers are in different data centers in different parts of the country. Thus, your data will still be available even in the event of a disaster that shuts down an entire data system.

  • Hassle-free: Face it, IT can be a hassle. With cloud-based services, you basically outsource the job of complex system maintenance chores, such as software upgrade, patches, hardware maintenance, backup, and so on. You get to consume the services while someone else takes care of making sure that the services run properly.

  • Globally accessible: One of the best things about cloud services is that they’re available anywhere you have an Internet connection. Suppose that you have offices in five cities. Using traditional computing, each office would require its own servers, and you’d have to carefully design systems that allowed users in each of the offices to access shared data.

    With cloud computing, each office simply connects to the Internet to access the cloud applications. Cloud-based applications are also great if your users are mobile because they can access the applications anywhere they can find an Internet connection.