Cloud Computing is the use of multiple server computers via a digital network as if they were one. The 'Cloud' itself is a virtualisation of resources (networks, servers, applications, data storage and services) allowing on-demand access for the end user. These resources can be provided with minimal management or service provider interaction.
This page provides more detail on Cloud Computing, including its benefits and risks, and guidance on mitigating those risks.
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The benefits of Cloud Computing
Cloud Computing offers resources for the end user without the need for technical knowledge of the systems which deliver them. Additionally, the Cloud can provide users with a far greater range of applications, and businesses with scalable and tailored services.
Cloud Computing brings many benefits to the end user, including:
- Access to a huge range of applications without having to download or install anything;
- The ability to access applications from any computer, anywhere in the world;
- Savings on hardware and software costs as users only use what they need;
- The ability for companies to share resources in one place;
- Savings as consumption is billed as a utility, with minimal upfront costs;
- Scalability via on-demand resources.
There are several differences between traditional hosting and Cloud hosting:
- Cloud Computing is sold on demand;
- The service is managed by the provider;
- Users can determine the amount of service they require;
- Users can log on to the network from any computer in the world.
Risks of Cloud Computing
Cloud Computing has many benefits, but there are also some risks associated with it.
Global State of Information Security Survey (2014) found that only 18% of respondents had a policy governing Cloud services. A lack of policies for cloud computing represents a serious security gap for businesses. Other risks related to Cloud Computing 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.
- There are data migration issues when changing Cloud providers.
- What happens if your Cloud provider goes out of business?
The different types of Cloud Computing
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 three main types of Cloud Computing:
- Software as a service (Saas)
- Platform as a service (PaaS)
- Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
Cloud Computing Books
If you are new to Cloud Computing we also recommend the following books as a good place to develop your understanding of the subject:
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