More and more organisations are benefiting from cloud computing technology, which refers to resources being delivered remotely, often via the Internet. When applications and databases are run ‘on the cloud’, the running of these systems is outsourced to the cloud provider, which will often be able to call on multiple servers to help ensure up-time and service continuity.
Dispensing with the need to manage IT resources on-site can increase the efficiency of an organisation, as it then gets to focus on its core competencies – while software updates, infrastructure, security and other hassles involved in information technology are all managed elsewhere.
Further efficiencies can be gained in terms of scalability as SaaS (software as a Service) enables a company to pay only for computing resources that are used – on demand. Usage can be increased indefinitely without the headache of extensive forward planning and investment in new infrastructure.
By eliminating the uncertainty around future IT needs, an organisation can take on new projects or responsibilities without the fear of expensive resources becoming redundant – or worse never used should a project not go ahead at all.
Lack of IT knowledge also becomes less of an issue as so many technology components are external, reducing worries around staff competence, training and support.
Benefits of Cloud Computing
- Flexibility – adding, reducing or changing usage as needs change.
- Freedom – physical relocation of people, departments, entire organisations become irrelevant.
- Migration – moving of data can become seamless and instantaneous.
- Maintenance – server is catered for (usually better) by the cloud provider, meaning only devices used to access the cloud need maintaining.
- Multitenancy – large and diverse groups can share resources and benefit from economies of scale.
- Security – typically, a cloud computing provider will be organised with security as one of, if not the #1, consideration from the start. Therefore, naive or busy organisations are likely to be less vulnerable to basic security mistakes or attacks.
Downsides of Cloud Computing
While security is mentioned above as one of the key benefits, security is usual seen as the main area of concern. Where personal data is stored on the cloud, its integrity becomes less tangible – a fact that worries many people. Understandably, lines also become blurred where it comes to accountability for IT security. If there is a breach, who is most at fault – the manager of the data or the cloud computing technology provider?
All this needs to be carefully considered, especially when it comes to managing personal data for a 3rd party.
What is certain is that cloud computing is a rapidly growing area of IT and companies such as Amazon and Google are doing extremely well on the back of this development.