Cloud computing, by the nature of its infrastructure, allows unprecedented mobility for users. Processing and data storage both occur in the cloud, making devices like smartphones, netbooks, tablets (including the iPad), and ultra-light laptops ideal tools for connecting users in the field to the company network. These devices (so-called “thin clients”) deliver access to real-time data over a secure Internet connection, freeing users from having to lug a bulky laptop around just to run an intensive software application or store a copy of a large database.
Obviously, these features have huge implications for employees in the field, whether a mobile sales force, on-site technicians, or other road warriors. But cloud computing also offers substantial benefits to companies without a significant off-site workforce. A nurse in a large hospital can go from room to room carrying only an iPad and have total access to each patient’s medical records. Any changes the nurse makes to a patient record are updated in real-time to the central database stored in the hospital’s cloud. A warehouse worker can manage inventory and track shipments on a handheld device instead of having to run an intensive enterprise resource planning (ERP) application on a full-size laptop. Software developers can let the cloud handle code compiling without bogging down their local PCs.
For this system to work effectively, however, the cloud in which your data resides must ALWAYS be up. When choosing a cloud partner, look for one with a demonstrated record of reliability and uptime. And, as with any mobile technology, providers must address security issues. Verify that any potential provider has a record of thorough and robust security procedures.
This is Part 3 in a series of QuickTips about Cloud Computing. Stay tuned for more information on how the Cloud might benefit your business.