Cloud Computing is a much more generalized term in which little or no centralized infrastructure exists. Sets of loosely coupled data centers work together achieving high utilization levels to perform common tasks, presenting GUI interfaces to users through virtualization or thin clients via the ‘Cloud’.
Cloud Computing presents tangible benefits to businesses, these can be both immediate and wide ranging. The benefits of utilizing the cloud ranges from reductions in cost of ownership to location independence and scalability, however along with these potential benefits comes a new set of concerns:
- Data integrity
Testing must be at the core of any cloud solution to ensure the delivery of a safe, integrated solution which meets the needs of the business it is to serve.
Common types of Cloud Computing:
- SaaS – Software as a service
- PaaS – Platforms as a service
- HaaS – Hardware as a service
All types of cloud computing services have several common factors:
Scalability: The distributed nature of Cloud solutions allow utilization to be spread evenly amongst available servers meaning applications can scale on demand.
Location independent access: By using thin clients or virtualization in the cloud. The only limitation is internet access.
Reduced cost of ownership: Using service providers with currently existing Cloud deployments means the need to own hardware to support the Cloud solution can be almost removed.
Server efficiency/utilization: The spread of server workload improves server efficiency and increases utilization of otherwise lesser used servers producing greater return on investment.
Green IT: The reduced requirement for hardware, implementations and location dependence means business can reduce the environmental impact and cost of its own IT infrastructure.
Instantly deployable environments: Environments can be built and deployed for specific needs such as development, testing or deployment. The use of virtualization within the cloud means that these environments can be scalable to production size and deployed in far smaller timescales.
Reduced maintenance cost: The centralization of all IT components means that maintenance can be carried out then mirrored in all end user instances of the cloud solution.
The RISKS associated with utilizing the cloud:
Lack of control: With outsourced IT infrastructure, business does not maintain total control of their data, impact down time, drive technology change or influence decisions which may impact their solution.
Security: How can business ensure that sensitive information which traverses the cloud is safe and secure?
Privacy concerns: What can business do to maintain the privacy of their information when using the cloud?
Data Integrity: When using third party solutions for Cloud Computing what assurances do businesses have their valuable data remains intact?
Availability: Cloud Computing solutions rely on the availability of their infrastructure to be able to function. Should a business critical Cloud Solution be unavailable for any time, what is the business impact?