Cloud Computing basically is the use of remote hardware and software resources that exist in or on a remote machine and are delivered as a service to individuals or companies. In most cases the medium for delivery is the internet. Ever since this method of computing hit the scene, it has turned the technology industry on its head. Companies now just need to know what they need in terms of computing power, the how and where are handled by the providers. This drastically brings down overheads and maintenance expenditure and intrinsically supports scalability being into the enterprise. Let us try and understand a few important factors that come into play when getting onto the cloud. But are there concerns in adoption? What are they?
The unique thing about cloud computing is the fact that the front end, or what the user sees and the back end or what the provider has been connected by the internet and this part is clouded from the user – hence the name Cloud Computing. The front end is comprised of the user’s computer and the application that facilitates cloud access. The interface varies from provider to provider.
The back end comprises of the systems, software and servers that make up the cloud. So those are the blocks of Cloud Computing. Often they are clustered to maintain availability and redundancy. There is also a central server that monitors access and maintains services and most importantly, implements protocols.
Issues in adoption of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is powerful, but like everything else, it also has it’s inefficiencies and vulnerabilities. Let us look at the important issues here.
1. Security and Privacy
This is the first and foremost concern. When you opt for the cloud, you are basically giving your confidential and private data to another entity. It is then up to the provider to manage, protect and retain them. So the whole concept stands on implicit trust placed by the end user on the provider. The providers have to live up to this and ensure security.
The PlayStation network compromise in the recent past is an example of what can go horribly wrong in this scenario. So choose a good, trustworthy provider and regularly audit the security protocols to ensure compliance. That way, when the going gets tough, you know that the tough get going.
This is a very critical problem in the cloud scenario. You see, once you select a provider, you are stuck with them. If you decide to change or switch providers, it starts to get dicey and messy to move from one to another. Not to mention the burden of data transfer from one provider to another. In the scenario of a provider closing down, the actual chain of ownership of data gets very messy and legally tangled. You will be searching for a long time for your own data.
3. Lack of Control
You will not have control over the software and applications. All these will run on third party and virtual environments. The patch levels and the OS levels will be dictated by the provider and not the user. The user also has very little say in the upgrades to the environment provider on the cloud. Many such conveniences in the local application model are lost when you go to the cloud. Some companies, if not most, find this a bit frustrating in the long run.
Imagine putting your entire T infrastructure on the internet. The threat perception and the susceptibility to attacks immediately increases exponentially. There are unprecedented risks that come with it. Malware, hackers, phishers everyone online can now attack you. There are enough data and evidence to prove that even the biggest and best have been hit by these.
5. Internet Access Speed
In developing nations where the penetration of the internet is still in it’s nascent stages, the speed of access often sounds like a joke to the western world. But the fact is that when speeds are low, cloud computing becomes more of a liability and less of an asset. Imagine trying to open a large file online using a cloud collaboration tool with a dial-up connection running over an old telephone network (POTS), then you will understand what I mean here.
So what is the final word? Cloud Computing is here to stay and the array of new devices that we are using to access our data online makes it indispensable. But there is no substitute for due diligence. Clear analysis and evaluation of a provider is key here. There is also an express need to study and understand the appropriate legislation in it’s entirety and interpret it correctly before getting on the cloud. Legislative and regulatory gaps also need to be closed by the governments.
So go for it, but think and analyze risks, mitigate them and then sail in the clouds!