New technologies are invented and implemented every year. In the Training and Development industry many of these pass us by due to the fact that most of them are irrelevant to what we do; I can’t see the latest Apple watch being used to enhance training and I haven’t found anyone yet who is able to employ Netflix as a pedagogical tool.

However, every so often an innovation comes along that helps to make our lives easier or our work better. The tablet has turned mobile learning into a practical and achievable option and the latest innovations for HTML5 videos means that making an interactive video is no longer a pipe dream or a hugely laborious task. Cloud computing is another such innovation.

Cloud computing?

Some of you might be wondering “What on earth is cloud computing?” Quite simply, cloud computing is the move from the storage and processing of information on single machines to using any number of machines, (a cloud), with the result that any number of requests can be dealt with simultaneously. So not only do you get the benefits of more processing power but you also get redundancy, where multiple copies of the data are stored on separate machines, and resilience, which means if one machine goes down another takes over.

The word ‘cloud’ can simply be used instead of the word ‘internet’, so you can really think of it as internet-based computing. You can find out more here.

So now you might be thinking “I understand this cloud computing thingy, but cloud training? What does that even mean? Is it meant to be provocative? Are you just making up phrases by sticking meaningful-sounding words together? I can do that too: turtle education, valley learning, cumulo-nimbus computing.”

Although I am a fan of making up words and phrases, this is a real thing. The idea of cloud training makes a lot more sense if you think of it as Internet-based training. Since it’s already called e-learning, (a word that is starting to sound more and more archaic), or online training, the step of adopting cloud computing principles to training is a natural one.

Server-based online training vs Cloud-based online training

So why should we consider the cloud? In order to answer this questions we’re going to look at how the weaknesses of server-based online training are the strengths of cloud-based online training.

Server-based

Before beginning it's important that we all know what it means for training to be 'server-based'.

Any particular online training module is stored on a single server. This means that all of the people who want to access it are directed to a specific server where it can be found.

  • Capacity: If your server’s capacity is too small, then it will either keep crashing due to running out of memory or users will find that their training takes ages to load.
  • Reliability: You’re completely at the mercy of the reliability of a single server. If it goes then so does your training.
  • Cost: If you want hundreds of users to be able to access hundreds of megabytes of data on a single server then you’ll need some deep pockets.

Cloud-based

  • Capacity: Despite a large number of simultaneous users, training can be accessed without it slowing down at all.
  • Reliability: If one server that contains your training crashes, then it doesn’t really matter because your training is stored on multiple servers around the world and another takes over instead.
  • Cost: Allowing a large number of users to access training with lots of graphic and video content costs a fraction of what it does on a single server.

A final advantage of having cloud-based training is that the information doesn’t get stuck in a bottle neck as it could with a single server. Since the information is coming from many different locations the experience can be significantly faster for larger numbers of users.

Essentially, when you locate your training in the cloud, you can make it bigger, better and cheaper than you ever could on a server.

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