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In a ‘Cloud’ of Doubt?

Posted by Redbourn Business Systems on Friday, November 30, 2012 Under: Cloud Computing

What is Cloud Computing?

In layman’s terms –   Cloud computing is the use of IT resources that you do not own but are on the network; not the organisation’s network but the internet.

The ‘Cloud’ itself is a virtualisation of resources – networks, servers, applications, data storage and services – which the end user has on-demand access to.  

Cloud Computing has brought together a range of technologies that can deliver scalable tailored and virtualised IT resources and applications over the internet. There are 3 main types of cloud computing which are:

  • Software as a service (Saas)
  • Platform as a service (PaaS)
  • Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)

Benefits of Cloud Computing

  • Access to a large range of applications without having to download or install anything
  • Applications can be accessed from any PC, anywhere in the world
  • Users can avoid overheads on hardware and software, only using what they need
  • Companies can share resources in one place
  • Consumption is billed as a utility with nominal upfront costs
  • Scalability via on-demand resources. Since it’s on “The Cloud”, there is no limit to the amount of storage space or processing power

There are several differences from traditional hosting to cloud hosting. The main differences are:

  • Cloud Computing is sold on demand
  • The service is managed by the provider
  • User can determine the amount of service they take

Risks of Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing has many benefits, however there are also some associated risks with using cloud computing. These include:

  • Users do not physically possess storage of their own data, which leaves the responsibility and control of data storage with the provider
  • Users could become dependent upon the cloud computing provider
  • With data held externally, business continuity and disaster recovery are in the hands of the provider
  • Data migration issues when changing cloud provider
  • What happens if your cloud provider goes out of business?

Organisations that use cloud services can minimize their risk by spreading operations over multiple cloud data centres to ensure downtime at a single cloud facility doesn’t take a business entirely offline. 

Security is another area where organisations must pay close attention. Cloud services usually provide a certain level of security, but their customers must sometimes take steps beyond that to ensure data privacy.

There are many EU Data protection regulations that apply to data stored and processed in a cloud environment and it can be time consuming and complex to confirm your compliance.  More information can be found online by searching for EU Data Protection Directive (95/46/EC).  

An EU working party paper, adopted in July 2012, found that despite their being acknowledged benefits of cloud computing in both economic and societal terms, the wide scale deployment of could computing services can trigger a number of data protection risks, mainly a lack of control over personal data as well as insufficient information with regard to how, where and by whom the data is being processed/sub-processed.   These risks can be summarised as risks from sharing of resources, lack of transparency, unavailability of a common global portability framework and uncertainty with regard to the admissibility of the transfer of personal data to cloud providers established outside of the EAA.  The report concluded that businesses and administrations wishing to use cloud computing should conduct, as a first step, a comprehensive and thorough risk analysis.  All cloud providers offering services in the EEA should provide the cloud client with all the information necessary to rightly assess the pros and cons of adopting such a service.  Security, transparency and legal certainty for the clients should be key drivers behind the offer of cloud computing services.  At the very least you should ensure that you select a cloud provider that guarantees compliance with EU data protection legislation.

For more information regarding 'Cloud Computing' contact AdvantageNFP

In : Cloud Computing 

Tags: "cloud computing" "network" "server" "data storage" "internet" 
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