Does the Increased Use of Cloud-based Apps Mean We Need to Change Our Approach to Choosing Hardware?

cloud computing” (CC BY 2.0) by Bruce Clay, Inc

Cloud computing has become the go-to resource for businesses and individuals around the world. According to the latest statistics, software-as-a-service (SaaS) was worth $130 billion in 2017. The average big business now uses 1,400+ cloud services, meaning the average employee has access to 36 cloud-based apps on a daily basis.

For those looking to start a business or improve an existing one, cloud services are clearly the way to go. However, this doesn’t mean computer hardware is becoming obsolete. Instead, our hardware needs are changing in line with the evolution of cloud technology. Put simply, you need the right type of hardware to get the best out of cloud services.

More RAM Required

In today’s cloud-based culture, RAM is even more important than it once was. With more services available online, computers need to have enough RAM to move between processes with ease. Indeed, an example of how demanding modern web apps can be, you only have to look at Google Chrome. What’s now the most popular browser is often described as a “memory hog”, as Chrome can use up to 900 MB of RAM with just two empty tabs. When you add web applications into the equation, the demands become even greater.

In fact, this movement towards more web apps has also increased the need for customisable security software. Using a cloud-based web application firewall (WAF), businesses are able to filter incoming traffic based on their specific needs. Because the software doesn’t have to be installed on a hard drive, it frees up space on the system itself. However, the trade-off here is that more RAM is required. Therefore, through this combination of greater usage and increased need for protection of web applications, today’s PCs need more RAM, even for regular office work.

Hard Drives vs SSD Drives

Hard Drive Repair” (CC BY 2.0) by wwarby

Moreover, web apps have also reduced our reliance on hard drives. With fewer data and software stored locally, computers can function efficiently with less internal storage space than they once had. This dynamic has led to an increase in demand for solid state drives (SSDs). In practice, the average SSD has less storage capacity than a traditional hard drive. However, they are faster.

Because there are no moving parts (as there are in traditional hard drives), SSDs are more reliable and don’t suffer from fragmentation. This means information can be written and read more quickly. However, what’s interesting is that our movement towards cloud-based software means we don’t necessarily need faster memory drives. By accessing information and services via the internet, less data has to be permanently stored on a hard drive or SSD. Therefore, there isn’t as much information to process. That leads onto our final hardware consideration: USB vs DVD.

USB over DVD

Thanks to the advent of streaming services such as Netflix and gaming platforms like Steam, we almost don’t need DVDs anymore. The result of this is that fewer PCs and laptops now come with DVD drives. For the times we do need to save information offline and outside of a computer, USB optical drives have become the default option. What this change has done is to make today’s computers and laptops leaner. Without the need for a DVD drive, manufacturers can reduce the size of their products. However, there’s an increased need for several USB drives – or, at the very least, an external USB hub.

Essentially, what the growth of cloud computing has done is make personal computers lighter in every sense. Because a lot of our services are now handled by remote servers, the computers in front of us don’t need to be packed with as many features and tools. The end result is systems that are more flexible and, to an extent, less reliant on the user’s hardware.

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