Cloud Computing: Risks and Benefits
These days, most organizations use some form of cloud computing. The most important thing you can do for yourself and your people is to educate yourself on the opportunities and risks associated with this technology. Take a look at how cloud computing offers opportunities, how to manage risks associated with housing sensitive data off-site, and how virtual computing environments can be used to manage vendors.
How does the cloud work?
Cloud computing is an all-encompassing term that refers to an IT computing environment where applications and data are stored and maintained on shared machines in a cloud-based environment rather than physically housed at the user’s location. One example of the cloud is Google’s Gmail, but there are many others. It is possible to deploy cloud services in four different configurations (private, community, public, and hybrid clouds) with three different models (infrastructure as a service, platform as a service, and software as a service).
- Infrastructure as a service (IaaS): Provides access to servers, storage, networks and other fundamental computing resources
- Platform as a service (PaaS): The service provides access to basic operating software and services for developing and using customer-created software
- Software as a service (SaaS): Integrated access to software applications from a provider
- Private cloud: Accessible via an intranet, hosted internally and used by a single company
- Community cloud: Infrastructure available to a particular community
- Public cloud: accessible from the internet, hosted externally and used by the general public
- Hybrid cloud: A cloud combining two or more types
The Cloud provides a scalable online environment that can handle an increase in work volume without affecting the performance of the system. Additionally, Cloud RIS offers significant computing power and economies of scale that might not be affordable otherwise – particularly for small and medium-sized businesses – without the investment in IT infrastructure.
The following are some advantages of cloud computing:
- Lower capital costs: Using cloud computing resources, organizations can offer unique services while nimbly adjusting IT capacity to meet peak and fluctuating service demands while only paying for what is used.
- Lower IT operating costs: An organization can rent additional server space for a few hours at a time – rather than maintaining proprietary servers – without worrying about upgrading resources whenever a new application version is released. Additionally, they are able to host their virtual IT infrastructure at the most cost-effective location.
- Easy installation and maintenance: Cloud computing does not require installation or maintenance of hardware or software.
- Optimized IT infrastructure: Fast access to computer resources is provided by the infrastructure.
- Environmental security: A cloud environment also entails a concentration of security threats due to the concentration of computing resources. Make sure your cloud provider is protecting your data adequately by asking about access controls, vulnerability assessment practices, patch management, and configuration management.
- Data privacy and security: By hosting confidential data with cloud service providers, an organization transfers a substantial amount of its control over data security to the provider. Ensure that your vendor understands the privacy and security concerns of your organization. Ensure that your cloud provider is aware of any particular data security or privacy rules that apply to your organization, such as HIPAA, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), FISMA or the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.