For most private and business users, cloud computing is synonymous with storing data on the Internet. But there is much more to this technology trend. The cloud mirrors resources, thus making business more flexible than ever before.
In the past 10 years, cloud technology has matured at a dramatic pace. It has become an everyday tool for businesses, which are increasingly outsourcing their technical infrastructures and applications to providers. In addition to software rental, the cloud can be used to obtain computing capacity or organize video conferencing for example. In addition to this, cloud computing provides a foundation for working on the go. Data and applications in the cloud are available at all times regardless of the location and device. Employees only need a browser and Internet connection with good bandwidth to get the required data.
Cloud computing can be worthwhile especially for small and medium-sized enterprises. The possibility of outsourcing storage capacities helps reduce the investment required for data centres, software licenses and essential updates. Instead they can use precisely the resources that they actually need from the provider and have the advantage of predictable operating costs. They also enjoy a higher level of reliability and flexibility.
According to research conducted by computer publisher IDG‘s online B2B portal, about 40 percent of German companies are already using cloud services and 22 percent are planning to use them in the future. According to forecasts by the marketing analysts at Pierre Audoin Consultants, cloud applications will grow at an average annual rate of 31 percent in Germany until 2016. The total volume is expected to be more than 14 billion euro in just three years time.
According to IDG, almost two-thirds (64 percent) of IT professionals in medium-sized German companies see data security and privacy issues as the most serious disadvantage of cloud services. Among other things, the NSA scandal has caused many SMEs to fear losing control of their data and IT systems. Nevertheless, providers of cloud computing services usually encrypt sensitive company data better than the medium-sized companies do themselves. According to Dieter Kempf, President of the IT Association BITKOM, higher security standards can generally be provided at lower costs than small or medium-sized companies can afford on their own.
Of course security issues also include direct access to computers, which can be stolen or hacked, the risk damage caused by fire, water and power outages, and regular backups. These risks can be extensively and inexpensively countered in large cloud infrastructures and by spreading across various cloud services.
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