|WHAT’S DRIVING THE RUSH TO THE CLOUD?
The Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) sums it up this way: ‘The promise of cloud computing is arguably revolutionising the IT services world by transforming computing into a ubiquitous utility, leveraging on attributes such as increased agility, elasticity, storage capacity and redundancy to manage information assets.’
The obvious attractions are:
• No up-front investment in hardware or software – ‘pay as you go’;
• Lower IT costs - ‘pay only for the computing power you use’;
• Maintenance which often includes patches, updates and upgrades;
• Faster deployment/provisioning with ‘ready-to-run’ cloud platforms;
• Greater flexibility - additional processing facilities, capacity or applications can be added and paid for when needed, and turned off when no longer needed.
For many businesses, some of these are compelling attractions, but it’s important to choose the right service for your business needs along with the best platform.
TYPES OF CLOUDS
There are three basic types of cloud services:
• Software as a Service (SaaS), where the vendor provides applications on demand, on a pay-as-you-use basis. Examples include Salesforce.com, Google Docs Microsoft Office 360.
• Platform as a Service (PaaS), where the vendor provides the platform for clients to develop and run new applications. Examples are Windows Azure and SQL Azure.
• Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), where the vendor provides computing facilities with hardware and operating systems. Examples are Amazon EC2 and S3.
In the last example, the user writes or loads his own software and simply takes advantage of the facilities – ideal for special projects. In a business context, SaaS and IaaS scenarios are the most common.
‘Private cloud’ and ‘internal cloud’ simply describe an emulation of cloud computing on private networks. Vendors of these services claim to deliver some of the benefits of cloud computing, without the challenges of data protection and cyber security, corporate governance, and reliability. However, customer organisations still have to ‘buy, build, and manage these’ private clouds and so do not benefit from lower up-front capital costs and less hands-on management.