As the number of businesses that plan to move files and applications increases, the cloud grows at a very high rate, as well. What is the cloud you may ask? The cloud is any network of computer systems whose borders and makeup are not well-defined, which means that accessing resources on a network such as word documents or applications such as databases is less about being physically connected to the network and more about being able to access those same resources easily and seamlessly from anywhere in the world.
There are three types of clouds. The public cloud is a cloud solution that hosts resources entirely on the internet and none of the data is stored on your physical network or local hard drive. Access to resources is usually through a website-based, content management system like SharePoint or Joomla. In direct contrast to the public cloud is the private cloud. All of the files and applications are located on servers and computers directly managed by you or your company. Resources are made available to remote users via a VPN or other secure remote connection technology. Often applications and data will be replicated to other locations managed by you or your company to improve disaster recovery. Content management systems like the ones mentioned earlier can also be used to organize and provide access to data. In contrast to the earlier scenario, these content management applications are entirely controlled and managed by internal staff. And somewhere in the middle is the hybrid cloud. Data is stored, accessed, and replicated between sites managed internally; however, some data if not all is also replicated to a public cloud service either for backup and disaster recovery or for access from outside the local network.
Vendors such as Netgear, Iomega, and Cisco offer simple network storage devices that let small businesses quickly implement private and hybrid clouds. Public cloud solutions like Office 365 from Microsoft or offerings from providers like Amazon and RackSpace are also available for businesses of any size to build their cloud solutions. No matter what type of cloud you choose, the goal is still the same: to improve reliability and accessibility for workers across multiple devices like tablets and smart phones. Proper planning is the first step in taking a leap into the clouds, and working with a trusted, knowledgeable technology partner will make the leap easier.