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The basics of cloud computing may now be common knowledge, as cloud technology permeates IT departments around the world. However, the cloud has deeper uses that you may not be familiar with. New uses for cloud-based technology are springing up every day, helping to solve issues like information disparity, customer management problems and even slow software development. While each of these use cases for the cloud has its root in the same technology that powers all cloud-based solutions, they exemplify just how much the cloud can do.

While the first wave of use cases are not unfamiliar anymore: from website hosting, backups, Test/development, email, etc. The second wave is quickly ramping up with even more interesting use cases. Some of these are below.

1. Cloud DNS

Moving your DNS to the cloud may seem like you are surrendering a lot of control, but in reality the process isn’t much different than running your own system. Cloud-based DNS lets you manage domains, sub-domains, mail servers, zone delegation and more. Best of all, some cloud providers like Rackspace offer Cloud DNS for free when you use other cloud services.

2. Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

The architecture of the cloud allows for the easy duplication of data and creates the ability to store the data in multiple locations, often in very different parts of the world. This backup strategy allows cloud users to quickly recover from both an infrastructure disaster and a physical disaster. Since the cloud isn’t pinned down to one location, companies can get up and running again often within minutes or hours, as opposed to the weeks it would take if a disaster hit a non-cloud data center.

3. Mission Critical Business Apps

When the cloud was young and its complexities and intricacies were still unknown, cloud adopters usually chose non-critical or isolated applications to run on the cloud. But the cloud’s benefits became clear, and these early adopters shifted more important apps to the cloud. Now mission-critical apps, like business management software and enterprise resource planning applications, are commonly run on cloud solutions.

4. Extra IT Resources

One benefit of the cloud that more businesses are taking advantage of is the relief for IT personnel that cloud computing can provide. Some may use this as an excuse to reduce IT headcount; but more dynamic businesses will take advantage of the relief by allowing IT professionals more time to develop and focus on applications that will help overall business operations.

5. Social Gaming

The rise of Facebook shows just how much impact social games can have on Internet traffic patterns. These games highlight the power of the cloud, managing resources as player interactions wax and wane throughout the day, and allowing for rapid expansion should a particular game take off. Cloud computing even allows smaller shops to compete with major game makers, since they aren’t constrained by the size of their data centers.

6. Extension of Enterprise Storage into the Cloud

Enterprise storage was one of the last aspects of traditional IT to make the transition to the cloud, but the security, redundancy, reliability and price of a cloud solution has won over any holdouts. Enterprise storage solutions are now available for public, hybrid and private clouds, and provide a safe and effective way for large companies to store and access their important data while saving a considerable amount of money over a legacy solution.

7. Big Data Analytics (Business Intelligence)

One of cloud computing’s greatest benefits is that it allows smaller companies access to technology that has historically been only available to large enterprises. This has been especially evident in the area of Business Intelligence. An effective BI system requires an enormous amount of resources to process all your company’s important data; resources that require a serious capital investment. The cloud allows many smaller companies to share resources on the public cloud, providing the same net benefit of a large BI infrastructure, at a fraction of the cost.

8. M2M Monitoring

The cloud gives you the ability to perform standard tests on remote systems or wireless devices without the need for interaction by IT personnel. Machine-to-machine monitoring helps ensure that remote devices remain functional, and the cloud allows for constant monitoring without the expenditure of IT resources and time.

9. Connect Disparate Databases

Over time, a business may wind up with its data spread across several databases that simply don’t have the ability to talk to each other, removing some valuable information from the hands of employees. The cloud allows organizations to bring together disparate systems, ensuring that everyone has access to the information they need. This benefit is even more pronounced with the recent mobility explosion. The cloud builds on the concept of user centricity to create a kind of device centricity, where information is available regardless of the user’s physical location.

10. Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics is an offshoot of BI, but no less important as it is the process of providing actable results from your warehouse of data. Just like BI in general, the cloud allows firms that lack the processing power for this type of intelligence to get the same kind of real-time information as their larger competitors.

This article was brought to you by Rackspace Hosting: Rackspace® Hosting is the service leader in cloud computing providing Fanatical Support® to customers across a portfolio of IT services, including  Managed Hosting and Cloud Computing.

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Posted by Megan Brown

Megan Brown is a social media networker at Slingshot SEO. You can follow her adventures in web design, sports, volunteering, cycling, and popsicle eating on twitter (@thagirlmegan) or on her personal site www.thatgirlmegan.com.

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