Cloud Computer

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Month: June 2018

The Advantage and Disadvantage of Cloud Computing

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud Computing is an oft-heard term these days. What does it mean? In simple words, it means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive. The computing power of a network of computers located elsewhere and owned by third-parties, and their software, is provided to you as a service.

The ‘Cloud’ basically refers to a group of connected machines with storage drives and processors that becomes an extension of your local computer. While it is most frequently mentioned in context of data storage, cloud computing also allows you to access content and services, run applications, or develop software using web-based tools provided by other companies. Companies offering these services are called cloud providers, and typically charge users based on usage, much like utility companies.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines Cloud Computing as below:

“Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction”

Cloud Computing allows network access to shared resources, like networks, apps, services, storage, etc. from any place and at any time. Cloud Computing solutions are offered to organisations in the form of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS Solutions), and now, even Internet of Things Solutions (IoT Solutions). A Cloud Computing company offers resources like virtual machines, networking and storage capacity.

Cloud Computing: A Safety Hazard?

Research suggests that businesses these days are flocking to companies that provide SaaS solutions and IoT Solutions. As more and more companies jump onto the Cloud bandwagon, hackers too have trained their sights on it. The Cloud Security Alliance released a report which demonstrates the threats that an organisation might face after shifting to Cloud Computing. Indeed, for a few years, cloud computing progressed at a faster rate than cloud security could protect it. But 2016 has marked a turning point in closing this gap, with the advent of robust cloud security tools that outmatch their non-cloud parameter security architecture counterparts. Big Data security aggregators in the cloud have developed the intelligence to pinpoint and accurately assess breach attempts before major damage is done. With SDN advancements, IT admins can now see across entire networks, accelerating incident response times and providing early detection capabilities. Cloud service providers can also use their vast network to absorb the brunt of DDoS attacks much better than traditional networks.

Let’s Meet Up in the Cloud!

A Cloud Computing company offers a large number of advantages.

Synchronized backups: You might lose your computer for several reasons;however, losing your data is a bigger problem. Data that is stored on the cloud can be accessed from anywhere. So even if your system is beyond saving, you can still access your data.

Collaborative output: Your team members can collaborate with each other no matter where they are because, with the Cloud, any person can access information from anywhere and help deliver better results.

Software updates: The main reason as to why the Cloud has been so enthusiastically adopted is that the Cloud servers are not in your care. What this means is that these are maintained and updated automatically, requiring no effort, time or resources from your end.

SaaS Solutions, IoT Solutions, etc.: Businesses need to adopt and integrate SaaS solutions, IoT solutions, in fact, all the solutions offered by the incorporation of Cloud in order to optimise their operations and internal processes, as these are the need of the hour.

So, the next time you wish you had a system wherein you could store data and help deliver excellence, you can simply speak to a cloud computing company which offers SaaS Solutions, IoT Solutions, etc. Why wait, when you can simply take your organization to the Cloud?

Tips To Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is considered as a practice of making use of a network for remote servers which could be hosted on the internet to store, manage as well as process data without making use of a local server or personal computer. Let us take a close look on purposes of cloud computing and the benefits as well as drawbacks.

Objectives of Cloud Computing

Before deciding whether to choose these services or not, a clear definition about the applications of software also has to be understood clearly. This might include the user functions, data functions along with the most important attributes about the software as a business system.

Access – Businesses should be able to identify which users, agencies, clients and staffs require access to the functionalities of software and the data that requires to be manipulated. Similarly it also controls what kind of access to the networks is made available to all.

Availability – The availability is yet another purpose of cloud computing and this requires the time at which the access is required whether it is during day or weekends etc. Furthermore it also includes how long the cloud computing could be made unavailable for users followed by how critical is access for the specific system.

Budget – The extent of impact budget issues and timing issues could have on a possible solution is also among some of the most important purposes of cloud computing.

Backup and Recovery – This includes the speed at which the system could be made available again once it goes down. The rate at which the data could continuously change and the total amount of data that is likely going to be there.

Data Sharing – Whether there are any other software systems or data systems that have the ability to share information with this software and whether the data sharing is performed in real-time or batched and whether it is automated or manual?

Security – The importance and security of data for the company and whether there are any legal or other security requirements for the data as well as software interface.

Cloud Computing Advantages

Now let’s go through the benefits as well as drawbacks of cloud computing. The ability of cloud computing to transform the way in which companies could make use of technology for servicing customers, partners, suppliers and thereby offering them with enhanced ability and agility are considered as the most important advantages of cloud computing.

Some of the key benefits are explained in detail below.

Cost Efficiency – Cloud computing avoids the need for businesses to invest in stand-alone software as well as servers. Companies can avoid additional costs that are otherwise associated with licensing fees, data storage costs, costs for software updates as well as management by means of utilizing the cloud capabilities. The availability of one time payments followed by the ability to pay while on the go is among some of the benefits that helps save on costs. Cloud computing avoids the need for on-site servers as the businesses and their data are stored in a virtual space. Similarly it reduces the need for in-house IT staffs as most of the manual updates are tasks that have to be done by a system administrator and it would be fulfilled by cloud computing by making use of resource APIs. The hosting servers would be actively monitored, maintained and upgraded with the help of cloud providers.

Availability Any Time – The continuous availability and location independence that helps with data storage, computing as well as networking is also made possible with cloud computing. Thus information can be accessed easily and similarly user requirements could be accommodated even if they are in different time zones and geographic locations.

Simplified Data Recovery and Backup – As the whole data resides on cloud rather than a physical device, the process of data recovery and backup is simplified. The data could be stored off-site and could be easily copied to different servers in various locations. Thus businesses can retrieve the data from other backup networks even though one might go down. The software program of the backup service will encrypt the data in a computer prior to sending it to the cloud. The virus or infection can also be detected before sending the data with the help of this technology.

Redundancy and Scalability – Resiliency is a major benefit as it defines that the data centers and its components such as servers and storage would continue to function even though some kind of disruption do occurs. It is also scalable which means even smaller companies could get immense value in using data centers that help them manage their cloud computing.

Storage – Compared to a personal computer, cloud computing has the ability to store much more data and can prove to be of use for smaller, medium and larger companies with almost unlimited storage capacity on offer.

Device Independence – It could be accessed from any device which has access to the internet making it device-independent in its characteristics. This means that any device which has a browser as well as an internet connection could leverage the benefits of these services.

Drawbacks:-

Even though there are quite a huge number of advantages, some drawbacks are also there for cloud computing.

Some of the drawbacks of cloud computing are as follows.

Data Breaches

Data Loss

Hacking of account or service credentials

Presence of an insecure interface – Interfaces is an important requirement for cloud provisioning, management as well as monitoring and is used commonly by IT administrators. At the same time, APIs is integral to security as well as availability of general cloud services which leads to a possibility of risk as companies will be required to surface their credentials to third-parties so as to enable their agency.

Insufficient knowledge about the cloud environment – Companies that does not have complete awareness about the cloud environment are at a higher risk compared to those who have a clear understanding about cloud computing technology.

Risk of shared vulnerabilities – Even though the infrastructure, platforms and applications are shared by cloud service providers for delivering the services in a scalable way, there is a greater risk of shared vulnerabilities which is known to exist in almost all delivery models.

Effect of Cloud Computing For Daily Lives

Introduction

Cloud Computing can be defined as the internet based computing, where the organization’s resources such as storage and applications are directly delivered to the organizational servers through the internet. Cloud computing refers to as the modern type of computing as opposed to the conventional means of computing via local servers and personal devices. The advent of cloud computing has revolutionized the overall functioning of all business functions and sectors in every industry. Cloud computing is now regarded as one of the crucial success factors for businesses as it serves as a competitive edge, by facilitating in providing not only high volume data storage and web applications, but also caters to the demand of providing the fastest, reliable, secure and most up-to-date systems.

The Future Of Cloud Computing

It is predicted that cloud computing is going to change the future of information technology and technology management. According to the EIU report, “cloud has already made huge waves in IT, with consumer cloud services, such as Google Drive and Dropbox, changing how people use digital content”. Similarly, according to another research paper, the findings suggest that while cloud computing is yet emerging as a means of modern-day computing, however, it has already started to change how the IT industry delivers value to its various clients. It is regarded as one of the top IT priorities. More than two-third of enterprises are using cloud computing services in some fashion and most agree that it has the potential of becoming the key delivery model for computing by 2030.

Cloud Will Affect Enterprises In Terms Of Customer Delivery

The impact of cloud computing on the IT industry can be gauged by addressing two questions. Firstly, how does cloud affect the enterprises in turn leading to customer delivery? Secondly, why does the cloud can have such a significant impact on the industry and market in general? In addressing the first question, cloud has the potential of impacting how businesses deliver value to its customers. This is because it provides a rich experience of IT services that enables customers to buy cloud services with less involvement of the IT department. Thus, it means that the enterprises must be vigilant in taking care of the user experience seriously. One of the hallmarks of cloud computing is its ability to turn IT resources into trade-able commodities, benefiting both users and vendors. Every enterprise is using some type of cloud services; virtualization, system performance monitoring, cloud management services, data provisioning, cloud performance optimization, or server automation. Thereby it is predicted that needed cloud skills will grow at six times the overall IT skills throughout the globe. Thus the industry will be facing a persistent and pervasive challenge for the availability of skilled IT workers.

Cloud Will Have A Significant Impact On The Industry And Market In General

In response to the second question, the agility and scalability of cloud computing are exceptional. It not only enables businesses’ growth and effectiveness, but also impacts its efficiency by making information readily available and accessible to be used whenever and wherever required. According to a survey report by Intel on the impact of cloud on IT consumption models, have highlighted some insights. In a nutshell, it has been found that most IT decision makers feel safe and good about the cloud experience. Given the efficiency and transformational potential of cloud, its demand is increasing significantly even in the emerging economies. The cloud is capable of adapting to the changes in the rapidly evolving IT industry, by catering to choose from many different approaches for sourcing, deploying, and operating custom cloud solutions, etc. Information technology tends to impact all the features of the modern lines thereby the role of cloud computing being significant for it.

Benefit Digital Insurance Using Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is the perfect enabler for Insurers to implement the digital version of their company faster and cheaper. Due to the current changes in the market, Insurers need to speed up their digital ambitions and deliver excellent mobile and online self-service functionality to their customers, distribution and service partners

Market challenges

It is “The End of Business as Usual” (Brian Solis), Digital is reshaping the landscape for Insurers fast and most Insurance companies have difficulties to adapt to these changes. Mobile and social media will change sales, distribution and operating models and require the adaptation of new marketing and service strategies and innovative technologies. New technologies and services are available for Insurers to change rapidly and become a full Digital Insurer. Online and mobile applications are delivered fast and cheap, social media are providing all necessary technical integration and services to integrate with the Insurance business, big data analytic tools, services and cloud computing are available to create a digital competitive edge and change the current paradigm.

Digital Insurance ambitions

Every Insurer has a strategy to become a Digital Insurer in the coming years. The result will be different for every Insurance company depending on the internal change capability. A Digital Insurer has digitalized the interaction with customers, distribution and service partners as far as possible using mobile and online applications for new business, policy servicing, renewals, expiries, claims and enquiries. It includes digital and social marketing and big data analytics as well as for example rule-based claims management. The Digital Insurer has fully digitalized the internal processes, internal staff and management have access to online and mobile applications, are able to work from anywhere at any time and use their own devices. These changes will change the operating model from a traditional administrative organization to a sales and service driven organization. More employees will work in the sales, distribution and customer services compared to employees working in the traditional processing and administration departments. The Digital Insurer is able to create competitive products with a fast time to market, excellent services and will operate cheaper than today. The Digital Insurer is available anywhere in the world, anytime and on any device.

The benefits of digitizing the Insurance Company are:

    • Ease of doing business
      • Mobile and online applications providing new and renewal business functionality including illustrations, quotations and payment.
      • Advanced self-service tools for claims notification, endorsements and enquiries.
      • Minimized and fully automated underwriting referrals.
      • 24×7 availability on any device, anywhere in the world.
    • Fast business growth
      • Big data availability and analytics.
      • Personalized advertisements and offers.
      • Daily campaigns and pricing changes.
      • Digital cross and up selling.
      • Higher retention.
    • Reduced operational cost
      • Straight through processing.
      • Minimized and BPM controlled manual work.
      • Paperless organisation.
      • Digital integration with service partners.
      • Rule-based underwriting for simple mass products.
      • Rule-based claims management for simple mass claims.
    • Improve service to customers and partners
      • All information online and mobile available including advanced call center access.
      • Fast claim handling by digitalized notifications and rule-based decision making.
      • Claims service personnel “on the road” with mobile devices.
      • Up and download functionality.

Cloud computing

Cloud computing is distributed computing using the Internet as a real time communication network. Cloud providers offer integrated IT services charged based on usage. Cloud computing is provided by specialized IT service organizations providing public clouds out of data centers around the world. Applications, data storage and databases are provided as “Software as a Service” and are available anywhere, anytime and on any device using the Internet. There are many ways to use cloud solutions (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS) and implement cloud solutions in public, private, hybrid and multiple clouds. In Public clouds, infrastructure, platforms and software are shared with other clients of cloud providers, in private clouds these are only shared internally within the company. Theoretically, big global companies are able to implement a private cloud. However, the risk of failure is high due to internal governance, culture, insufficient knowledge and budget. If companies are not comfortable with a public cloud and want to implement a private cloud, the advice is to outsource the full IT infrastructure including applications to cloud-specialized IT companies and make use of their existing infrastructure in a hybrid cloud.

The Digital Insurer in the cloud

Cloud computing enables a Digital Insurer to implement a full digital service for customers, partners and employees. Cloud computing provides software as a service and infrastructure on demand and connects all sorts of online and mobile applications for doing business with the Insurer anytime, anywhere on any device. Online and mobile applications connected to the integration backbone in the cloud are made available for customers, partners and employees. The back end systems, databases and integration backbone of the Insurer are implemented in the cloud and protected with all necessary security measures and systems to prevent compliance problems. Cloud computing comes with flexible scalability and digital projects may start small and when successful fast and easily grow in bandwidth and storage without any issues with IT delivery times. Digital insurance and cloud computing together will reduce the cost of Operations and IT substantially.

The advantages of cloud computing for the Digital Insurer are:

  • 24×7 availability on the Internet.
  • Device and location independency.
  • Fast time to market.
  • Flexible work environment and collaboration possibilities.
  • Usage based charging/Pay as you go.
  • No initial investment cost, shift from Capex to Opex.
  • Automated, flexible self-service scalability.
  • Load balancing though globally optimized infrastructure.
  • Centralized storage.
  • High availability, reliability, disaster recovery and business continuity.
  • Outsourced IT maintenance services.
  • IT departments able to focus on online and mobile application change management, process & service improvement, analytics, efficiency and agility.

How does it work?

All IT infrastructure, servers and network, are available in the cloud data centers of the IT service provider and connected to the internet. On top of the infrastructure, a secure operating platform is available to deploy the Insurer specific back-end systems. Typical systems deployed in the cloud are:

  • Client management.
  • Policy management(Life, P&C, Health, Group).
  • Claims management.
  • Financial management.
  • Content management.
  • Correspondence (printing) management.
  • Business Process Management/Workflow.
  • Product development and management.
  • Others (HR, Partner management, Projects, Governance, Procurement, etc.).

All systems are connected to an integration system, integrating the back-end systems, connecting transactional and data warehouse/analytics database(s) and providing connectors to online and mobile applications and external gateways. Online and mobile applications will be made available in cloud or mobile app stores. Customers, partners and employees will be able to download all the apps they need on their own devices.

Depending on the centralization strategy of the company and the choice of systems and tools this model can be implemented on department, country, regional or global level providing flexible solutions for local differences in language, currency, products, regulations and market practices.

The challenge

The urgency of Digital Insurance is more or less adopted in the boardrooms. However, Digital Insurance is not fully adopted by sales & distribution departments, underwriters and operations. A paradigm shift in the insurance industry is necessary to adopt Digital Insurance and cloud computing. Even if the benefits are clear, control, security, compliance, knowledge and internal mindset issues could prevent a fast cloud adoption and delay the implementation of Digital Insurance. This does not only concern the IT departments who are facing a major outsourcing, but also all other departments in the company, for example will actuaries agree to store and run their models in the cloud?

Cloud Computing is safe and should be managed in the same way as IT outsourcing. Cloud providers have heavily invested in external and internal security, business continuity, high availability and performance. IT outsourcing is a common practice for many years and experience is available to ensure robust governance, ownership, business continuity and a smooth migration.

A bigger challenge is to enhance the insurance back-end systems to cloud readiness. In most cases the back-end systems are not integrated and front End systems are built on top of back-end systems without a loosely coupled component based IT architecture. An integration layer and transactional database are the necessary basic components to implement and to integrate with the back-end systems and to provide access to data and functionality for online and mobile applications.

Implementation considerations

A digital IT strategy will be the basis for the implementation of Digital Insurance and cloud computing. To adopt cloud computing, a good way to start is to move non-mission critical systems to the cloud and get experience with using the cloud. However to speed up the implementation of the Digital Insurer, today’s priority should be the cloud readiness transformation of the mission critical systems and migrate these systems to the cloud. The critical components of cloud readiness are the integration between online and mobile applications and the core systems, and the availability of extensive integrated data of customers, transactions, policies and claims. To implement Digital Insurance in the cloud a project needs to include:

  • Definition and scope of services and service levels.
  • Cloud architecture.
  • Application and integration architecture.
  • Security and compliance requirements.
  • Cloud governance.
  • Cloud provider selection.
  • Contract and Service Level Agreement.
  • Cloud readiness system and database development.
  • Online and mobile applications development.
  • Technical migration.
  • Digital and cloud transformation.

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