Up in the cloud but what does it mean?
When most people think of “cloud” computing they think of just accessing their
information or package through a web browser, (or some other remote access) so they can work from anywhere. Most software offerings are moving that way as it relieves organization of some of the hardware overheads (internal servers etc) as well provide greater flexibility. They are paid for either by number of subscribers or amount used so service can amended as required.
Different types of cloud computing services.
YeThere are a few different offerings on the table:
- Infrastructure as a Service is a virtualised version of a hardware components of a system. This could be servers, data storage, firewalls, load balancers, encryption key management, monitoring etc. Basically, the backend of structure of what a network needs to function can now be outsourced through the internet. A network architect would use this service to layout the structure of how they wanted the system to run. Amazon’s EC2 would be an example.
- Platform as a Service is an operating system that can be accessed remotely. This provides a network of virtual servers and workstations upon which software can be accessed. Includes development tools, middleware and database services. The difference with Infrastructure as a service is that this environment that provide business solutions and user activity. A developer would use this to write code or enter information on without having to worry about maintenance issues. Azure would be an example of Microsoft’s version of just such an environment.
- Software as a Service: is as above but is a single software package that can be used remotely. Office 365 cloud or accounting packages such as Xero or Kashflow would be examples of services that can be accessed from any web enabled device. Any reports or information would have to downloaded from the service to the device to print or manipulate in other ways.
There are no hard and fast rules, so you may find many hybrid variations of these services.
Pros and cons of using cloud computing.
The advantage is that a workforce no longer needs to be bound by a physical office and can continue to work and receive information from anywhere. As the environments and data is held by large organisations they can keep up to date with virus protection methods and physically secure premises. The disadvantage is that it does rely totally on the efficiency of a third-party organisation and if a username or password is compromised then the world is their oyster as there would be no barriers to access. A physical server in a person’s premises limits the possibility of unauthorised subjects to the information.
Careful consideration needs to be given before moving your operations onto the cloud as it may not suit all business’s. At the end of the day it is outsourcing your most precious asset, your information, and you need to be confident that this can be accessed at all times. If you wish to know more see our services page.