Cloud computing is a term that has gained widespread use over the last few years. With the exponential increase in data use that has accompanied society’s transition into the digital 21st century, it is becoming more and more difficult for individuals and organizations to keep all of their vital information, programs, and systems up and running on in-house computer servers (see Main Cloud Adoption Goals & Challenges in Insurance). The solution to this problem is one that has been around for nearly as long as the internet, but that has only recently gained widespread application for businesses.
Cloud computing technology gives users access to storage, files, software, and servers through their internet-connected devices: computers, smartphones, tablets, and wearables. Cloud computing providers store and process data in a location that’s separate from end users.
What are cloud computing technologies?
Cloud computing is a next-generation technology based on the internet and network, which provides users services in multiple ways. It is a simple data outsourcing resource and can be used temporarily also, and it is cost-effective because clients can pay for what they use (see New Trends of Cloud Services).
To work on cloud applications, the requirements are fast internet connections and standard web browsers. It offers scalable access on-demand to the client instantly by sharing its pool resources to client web pages or IP.
Simply put, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—including servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence—over the Internet (“the cloud”) to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale.
The three big cloud providers are Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure. These three cloud computing companies occupy a significant share of the global market.
What are the 4 types of cloud computing?
There are four main types of cloud computing: private clouds, public clouds, hybrid clouds, and multiclouds. There are also three main types of cloud computing services: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platforms-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
According to a study by the International Data Group, 69% of businesses are already using cloud technology in one capacity or another, and 18% say they plan to implement cloud-computing solutions at some point (see about Using AI, Analytics & Cloud to Reimagine the Insurance Value Chain).
Dell reports that companies that invest in big data, cloud, mobility, and security enjoy up to 53% faster revenue growth than their competitors.
As this data shows, an increasing number of tech-savvy businesses and industry leaders are recognizing the many benefits of the cloud-computing trend. But more than that, they are using this technology to more efficiently run their organizations, better serve their customers, and dramatically increase their overall profit margins.
What are the biggest cloud challenges?
Reducing costs is the primary reason to move to the cloud for 61% of respondents, but 35% said that the expense of cloud adoption has slowed their move to the cloud.
This is a tricky thing about cloud infrastruc-ture: Cloud and on-premises infrastructures are too different to try and just move every workload as is; in-deed, a lift-and-shift approach can lead to significant extra expenses and even require costly architecture redesign if issues are found late in the process.
However, this will likely be both the least efficient and the most expensive architecture you can think of. From this perspective, it seems that some of the respondents who say their cloud migra-tion was too expensive might lack sufficient expertise with cloud environments (see 7 Key Top Benefits of Cloud Computing).
Still, the expense of a cloud infrastructure can be harder to predict than those in an on-premises envi-ronment.
The main insurance business advantages of cloud computing
According to Salesforce, cloud computing operates on a similar principle as web-based email clients, allowing users to access all of the features and files of the system without having to keep the bulk of that system on their own computers.
The benefits of cloud computing are changing the landscape of business. In a world where customers demand personalized marketing and instant and impeccable service, it’s fast becoming not just the best way to drive successful and innovative businesses, but the only way.
Cloud computing means having the ability to store and access data and programs over the internet instead of on a hard drive. This means businesses of any size can harness powerful software and IT infrastructure to become bigger, leaner, and more agile, as well as compete with much larger companies. Unlike with traditional hardware and software, cloud computing helps businesses stay at the forefront of technology without having to make large investments in purchasing, maintaining, and servicing equipment themselves.
1. Cost Savings
Once you’re on the cloud, easy access to your company’s data will save time and money in project startups. And, for those who are worried that they’ll end up paying for features that they neither need nor want, most cloud-computing services are pay as you go. This means that if you don’t take advantage of what the cloud has to offer, then at least you won’t have to be dropping money on it.
The pay-as-you-go system also applies to the data storage space needed to service your stakeholders and clients, which means that you’ll get exactly as much space as you need, and not be charged for any space that you don’t.
Taken together, these factors result in lower costs and higher returns. Half of all CIOs and IT leaders surveyed by Bitglass reported cost savings in 2015 as a result of using cloud-based applications (see How to Succeed Using the Power of the Cloud Technology?).
Your business has only a finite amount of focus to divide between all of its responsibilities. If your current IT solutions are forcing you to commit too much of your attention to computer and data-storage issues, then you aren’t going to be able to concentrate on reaching business goals and satisfying customers.
On the other hand, by relying on an outside organization to take care of all IT hosting and infrastructure, you’ll have more time to devote toward the aspects of your business that directly affect your bottom line.
The cloud offers businesses more flexibility overall versus hosting on a local server. And, if you need extra bandwidth, a cloud-based service can meet that demand instantly, rather than undergoing a complex (and expensive) update to your IT infrastructure.
Cloud computing allows mobile access to corporate data via smartphones and devices, which, considering over 2.6 billion smartphones are being used globally today, is a great way to ensure that no one is ever left out of the loop.
Staff with busy schedules, or who live a long way away from the corporate office, can use this feature to keep instantly up to date with clients and co-worker.
Through the cloud, you can offer conveniently accessible information to sales staff who travel, freelance employees, or remote employees, for better work-life balance. Therefore, it’s not surprising to see that organizations with employee satisfaction listed as a priority are up to 24% more likely to expand cloud usage.
As we move ever further into the digital age, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that the old adage “knowledge is power” has taken on the more modern and accurate form: “Data is money.”
Hidden within the millions of bits of data that surround your customer transactions and business process are nuggets of invaluable, actionable information just waiting to be identified and acted upon.
Of course, sifting through that data to find these kernels can be very difficult, unless you have access to the right cloud-computing solution.
Many cloud-based storage solutions offer integrated cloud analytics for a bird’s-eye view of your data. With your information stored in the cloud, you can easily implement tracking mechanisms and build customized reports to analyze information organization wide.
Many organizations have security concerns when it comes to adopting a cloud-computing solution. After all, when files, programs, and other data aren’t kept securely onsite, how can you know that they are being protected? If you can remotely access your data, then what’s stopping a cybercriminal from doing the same thing? Well, quite a bit, actually (see 86% of Cloud Attacks in the Healthcare Sector Result in Financial Losses).
For one thing, a cloud host’s full-time job is to carefully monitor security, which is significantly more efficient than a conventional in-house system, where an organization must divide its efforts between a myriad of IT concerns, with security being only one of them.
And while most businesses don’t like to openly consider the possibility of internal data theft, the truth is that a staggeringly high percentage of data thefts occur internally and are perpetrated by employees. When this is the case, it can actually be much safer to keep sensitive information offsite. Of course, this is all very abstract, so let’s consider some solid statistics.
RapidScale claims that 94% of businesses saw an improvement in security after switching to the cloud, and 91% said the cloud makes it easier to meet government compliance requirements. The key to this amped-up security is the encryption of data being transmitted over networks and stored in databases.
6. Loss Prevention
If your organization isn’t investing in a cloud-computing solution, then all of your valuable data is inseparably tied to the office computers it resides in. This may not seem like a problem, but the reality is that if your local hardware experiences a problem, you might end up permanently losing your data.
This is a more common problem than you might realize computers can malfunction for many reasons, from viral infections, to age-related hardware deterioration, to simple user error. Or, despite the best of intentions, they can be misplaced or stolen.
If you aren’t on the cloud, you’re at risk of losing all the information you had saved locally. With a cloud-based server, however, all the information you’ve uploaded to the cloud remains safe and easily accessible from any computer with an internet connection, even if the computer you regularly use isn’t working.
7. Increased Collaboration
If your business has two employees or more, then you should be making collaboration a top priority. After all, there isn’t much point to having a team if it is unable to work like a team.
Cloud computing makes collaboration a simple process. Team members can view and share information easily and securely across a cloud-based platform.
Some cloud-based services even provide collaborative social spaces to connect employees across your organization, therefore increasing interest and engagement. Collaboration may be possible without a cloud-computing solution, but it will never be as easy, nor as effective.
Given the current state of the environment, it’s no longer enough for organizations to place a recycling bin in the breakroom and claim that they’re doing their part to help the planet. Real sustainability requires solutions that address wastefulness at every level of a business. Hosting on the cloud is more environmentally friendly and results in less of a carbon footprint.
Cloud infrastructures support environmental proactivity, powering virtual services rather than physical products and hardware, and cutting down on paper waste, improving energy efficiency, and reducing commuter-related emissions.
A Pike Research report predicted data center energy consumption will drop by 31% from 2010 to 2020 based on the adoption of cloud computing and other virtual data options.
9. Disaster Recovery
One of the factors that contributes to the success of a business is control. Unfortunately, no matter how in control your organization may be when it comes to its own processes, there will always be things that are completely out of your control, and in today’s market, even a small amount of unproductive downtime can have a resoundingly negative effect.
Downtime in your services leads to lost productivity, revenue, and brand reputation.
But while there may be no way for you to prevent or even anticipate the disasters that could potentially harm your organization, there is something you can do to help speed your recovery. Cloud-based services provide quick data recovery for all kinds of emergency scenarios, from natural disasters to power outages.
10. Quality Control
There are few things as detrimental to the success of a business as poor quality and inconsistent reporting. In a cloud-based system, all documents are stored in one place and in a single format.
With everyone accessing the same information, you can maintain consistency in data, avoid human error, and have a clear record of any revisions or updates.
Conversely, managing information in silos can lead to employees accidentally saving different versions of documents, which leads to confusion and diluted data.
Where we most use cloud computing?
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
Cloud computing offers virtual and physical computers. The actual machines are accessed by hypervisors that are grouped into pools and managed by operational supportive networks. Cloud computing introduces operating framework pictures on actual machines and application programming. Infrastructure as a service offers resources like firewalls, IP addresses, monitoring services, storages, bandwidth, virtual machines and so on, all are made available to the clients on cost on a time basis. Examples: Windows Azure, Google Compute Engine, Amazon EC2, Rackspace.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
It is the part of the application development and deployment platform as an available service to programmers or developers. They can utilize the basement to build, deploy, test and handle SaaS applications effectively. The major attributes of PaaS have point-and-snap equipment that empowers the programmer to design web-based applications. Some examples are Google, Force.com, Apache, AWS elastic beanstalk and Windows Azure.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
It is the transmission of Applications to end-users by the web browsers. Cloud clients install it and they can enable them to run on the cloud platform. But it is not mandatory for this process because they need software support and reduced maintenance. Instead, they can use SaaS applications which is portable. The best example, an Office Suite. SaaS provides us the Application Programming Interface (API), which allows the developers to build the desired application.
Cloud computing has a unique feature as broad network access in which wide resources like storage and virtual machines can be accessed easily with the mobile phone, personal laptops, and computers.
Hence it can be accessed at any time. The resource pooling allows multiple users to share a common pool like database, applications and web pages and provides rapid elasticity to resources used by clients or recently assigned to clients is automatically monitored. It is very possible to scale the resource up and down at any time.
AUTHOR: Oleg Parashchak – CEO Finance Media & Editor-in-Chief at Beinsure Media