“The cloud” has become a very popular buzzword in the IT and business worlds. Whether it is in reference to the consumer cloud, such as Amazon’s cloud music player, or the business cloud, such as Microsoft Office 365, the basic principle is still the same. When applications and/or data are hosted on the cloud, users must access the Internet to reach them.
For some cloud services, this reality means that the service provider owns the applications, although the data usually remains property of the user. Other services are more flexible and may allow the user to create or install their own applications, which somewhat blurs the line between cloud hosting and traditional hosting.
For a business that intends to use its applications internally, it might seem odd to have to access the Internet to do work. There are benefits and drawbacks to this arrangement.
One benefit, which is an advantage of the cloud in general, is that the service provider does all of the server maintenance, application upgrades, and troubleshooting as part of the package, often called software as a service (SaaS). Another advantage is that employees are no longer tied to their desks. They can access their business applications wherever they go and on a variety of traditional and mobile devices.
Among the disadvantages are that you must have Internet access. Without it, your business process will be interrupted. Moreover, your data is pretty much at the mercy of your service provider, unless you have some type of local backup and can easily port it to other applications, should the service provider cease to exist.
Ultimately, it becomes a question of whether the pros outweigh the cons for your business. For some the cloud frees them from the expense and burden of on-premise applications. For others without those financial concerns or technical limitations, a local implementation may be preferable.