What is Cloud Computing and Cloud Storage? The word cloud in cloud computing often refers to the cloud symbol in diagrams representing the Internet. Cloud computing can encompass a broad range of hosted services, which primarily include forms of cloud servers and cloud storage. Cloud storage is the process of storing and backing up data on servers, making data accessible through the Internet. With cloud storage, your data does not have to be located on-site and can theoretically be stored anywhere; which begs the question, is your data safe if you don't have physical possession of it? Pros to Hosted Storage: Depending on configuration, organizations can opt to share resources on a server, allowing them to share the cost of the server with other companies. Although the server is technically shared, other organizations/people do not have access your data. The downside to sharing server resources is that it allows for less customizability and integration with your organization. For this reason, larger corporations with more sophisticated requirements will generally opt for a private server, where they lose the cost saving benefit, but still enjoy the other benefits, like the accessibility of cloud storage. Cons of Hosted Storage Localized storage may provide users with piece of mind, knowing that their data is in their office, in a server that they can physically see and touch. This concern is warranted as many users are unaware that cloud storage providers may send their data to places where its' security can be compromised through foreign laws. For example, if a Canadian law firm stores their files on a cloud server located somewhere in the United States, sensitive client data could be compromised through the US Patriot Act. For this reason, depending on the nature of business, it may be in your best interest to investigate where the cloud provider's data servers are. Setting up a local private server can be quite expensive, as companies would need to spend money on server and workstation related hardware, software licenses, installation of patches, anti-virus software, upgrades and much more annually on employing the IT staff to implement, manage and maintain it. Cloud Storage Recap Pros: • More affordable than private servers • Data is accessible from anywhere • Business continuity as data can be backed up automatically Cons: • Physical location of data is often unknown • Data is subject to the law of where it is located Small to medium-sized businesses generally have the most to gain through cloud storage.