person using laptop

What is the cloud?

Where is the cloud? In the simplest terms, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and your business applications over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive. The cloud is a metaphor for the Internet.

What cloud computing is not about is your hard drive. When you store data on or run programs from your hard drive, that is called local storage and computing. Everything you need is physically close to you which means accessing your data is fast and easy, for that one computer, or others on the local network. Working off your hard drive is how the computer industry functioned for decades; some would argue it’s still superior to cloud computing.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Cloud Computing


  • No need for onsite hardware or capital expenses which is well suited to rapidly growing companies that may outgrow their infrastructure too quickly.
  • Easily scalable; can be added to as needed. Solutions are often on-demand so you only pay for the options you want.
  • Workers can connect from anywhere, using any computer, tablet, or smartphone.
  • Data can be backed up in the cloud as regularly as in 15-minute intervals, minimizing data losses in disaster situations.


  • The user experience is limited by the speed of the Internet connection.
  • You are not in control of your data.
  • Third party cloud services could have direct access to your data.
  •  If the Internet goes down on your side or on your cloud provider’s side, you won’t have access to any of your information or applications.
  • The ongoing costs can outweigh the benefits for SMB’s

As you can see, there are many pros and cons to cloud computing for the SMB. For this reason, Four Winds often recommends a hybrid model to clients – meaning a combination of both in-house and cloud-based solutions. Going hybrid gives clients the best of both worlds. Having in-house server hardware can be suitable for companies that do not want to rely on the Internet and who want to maintain control of their critical data and applications.  At the same time, businesses can reap the benefits of a cloud solution, such as Microsoft 365 email, to allow users to connect from anywhere with a high degree of uptime.

The experts at Four Winds will work with you to help you make an informed decision on whether to “Go to the Cloud” and will provide a clear road map on how to get there.