One of the difficulties with cloud computing, and one of the reasons that various businesses and sectors (including the legal sector) are only just starting to realise the benefits of cloud computing, is that it means different things to different people.
What is “The Cloud”?
Cloud computing is, to put it simply, the delivery of IT as services over the internet, enabling users to store and access data and programs over the internet instead of a hard drive.
Programs and applications run on connected servers in data centres rather than on local computing devices such as computers, smartphones or tablets, resulting in
a huge cost saving for users.
Cloud computing is a vast topic and this blog does not aim to provide a detailed insight into how it works. Instead, it will highlight the benefits of cloud computing and how you and your business could use it to your advantage.
How could you benefit from cloud computing?
Cloud computing carries many advantages for all levels of business – from start-up companies, to SMEs, to large corporates and multinational companies. The benefits vary from company to company and from sector to sector.
Many of the characteristics and the benefits apply to all types of cloud computing and include:
- easy access – users can access cloud platforms when necessary, typically by using common website browsers;
- disaster recovery – reliance on the cloud reduces the need for companies to have complex disaster recovery procedures in place;
- pooled resources – cloud services are provided to a number of customers at one time, taking advantage of economy of scale and leading to a significant cost reduction;
- scalability – business can tap into cloud resource as and when necessary, and should a business experience sudden growth or otherwise, cloud resources can be rapidly expanded or reduced accordingly;
- environmentally friendly – it has been reported that using the cloud results in at least 30% less energy consumption and carbon emissions than using on-site servers; and
- cost and payment – a “pay as you go” model applies to cloud computing, and use can be quickly and easily monitored and controlled.
There are, unsurprisingly, risks as well as benefits associated with cloud computing. For example, some organisations have concerns regarding data privacy and IT security and the idea that the location of the data is never certain, including whether it has crossed jurisdictional boundaries.
There are also some unique issues associated with contracting for cloud computing. Such contracts involve a shift from contracting for a piece of software to contracting for a service requiring, for example, maintenance guarantees and service levels. This is arguably why some companies such as Amazon and Microsoft have struggled to achieve a successful working business model.
Which cloud suits you?
One of the key benefits is that cloud computing can be adapted to suit each particular business. It is not a case of “one cloud fits all”.
Hybrid cloud computing, for example, allows a business to manage some resources in-house and source others externally. Businesses are therefore able to benefit from the scalability and cost-effectiveness of using cloud computing whilst keeping operational data in house or preventing any key data being exposed to third party vulnerabilities.
Examples of cloud platforms include:
- Microsoft Azure, which, amongst other uses, enables business to provision an environment for testing new software. Azure can be used for a limited period of time, ensuring a business is not required to pay for the cloud platform when it no longer needs to use it;
- Amazon Simple Storage Service, which can be used to store archived data; and
- Microsoft Office 365 – this may appeal to start-up businesses, as it provides basic software such as Microsoft Word, email and online conferencing.
Larger corporates are also making more and more use of the cloud and the reduced capital expenditure it brings with it.
Clarion and cloud computing
Would your business benefit from storing data in the cloud, creating space on your in-house servers, or making use of marketing or development software in the cloud?
We can help you negotiate cloud agreements and ensure you understand and protect your business from the risks associated with cloud computing. We are also happy to review any agreements currently in place.
If you have signed up or are considering signing up to standard terms and conditions of a cloud provider, we would be happy to discuss these with you to ensure you understand the implications.
Although we don’t pretend that there are no risks associated with cloud computing, we believe the benefits outweigh the risks and that, in the end, every cloud has a silver lining.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss cloud computing in further detail, please contact our commercial partner Matthew Hattersley on 0113 336 3351 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: Anything posted on this blog is for general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice on any general or specific matter. Please refer to our terms and conditions for further information. Please contact the author of the blog if you would like to discuss the issues raised.