Cloud Computer

Man is still the most extraordinary computer of all

Month: July 2018

All About Security of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is here, and has been embraced by many an organization. Cloud computing as defined by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is “a model for enabling 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.” [1]. Cloud computing is basically about outsourcing IT resources just like you would outsource utilities like Electricity or water off a shared public grid. The cloud services options include:

Software as a Service (SaaS): Whereby the consumer uses the cloud provider’s applications running on a cloud infrastructure and the applications are accessible from various client devices through a thin client interface such as a web browser (e.g., web-based email).

Platform as a Service (PaaS):Here the consumer deploys their own applications on the provider’s infrastructure. This option allows the customer to build business applications and bring them online quickly they include services like, Email Campaign management, Sales Force Automation, Employee management, Vendor management etc…

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): The consumer has access to processing, storage, networks, and other fundamental computing resources where the consumer is able to deploy and run arbitrary software, which can include operating systems and applications. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure but has control over operating systems; storage, deployed applications, and possibly limited control of selected networking components (e.g., host firewalls).

Cloud computing has become popular because, Enterprises are constantly looking to cut costs by outsourcing storage, software (as a service) from third parties, allowing them to concentrate on their core business activities. With cloud computing, enterprises save on setting up their own IT infrastructure which would otherwise be costly in terms of initial investment on hardware and software, as well as continued maintenance and human resource costs.

According to the Gartner report on cloud security [2], Enterprises require new skill set and to handle the challenges of cloud security. Enterprises need to see to it that their cloud service provider has most of “the boxes ticked” and that they have their security concerns addressed. Cloud computing being a somewhat a new field of IT with no specific standards for security or data privacy, cloud security continues to present managers with several challenges. There is need for your provider to be able to address some of the issues that come up including the following:

Access control / user authentication: How is the access control managed by your cloud service provider? To be more specific, Do you have options for role based access to resources in the cloud,? How is the process of password management handled? How does that compare to your organization’s Information security policy on access control?

Regulatory compliance: How do you reconcile the regulatory compliance issues regarding data in a totally different country or location? How about data logs, events and monitoring options for your data; does the provider allow for audit trails which could be a regulatory requirement for your organization?

Legal issues: Who is liable in case of a data breach? How is the legal framework in the country where your cloud provider is based, visa vi your own country? What contracts have you signed and what issues have you covered/discussed with the provider in case of legal disputes. How about local laws and jurisdiction where data is held? Do you know exactly where you data is stored? Are you aware of the conflicting regulations on data and privacy? Have you asked your provider all the right questions?

Data safety: Is your data safe in the cloud? How about the problems of Man-in-the-middle attacks and Trojans, for data moving to and from the cloud. What are the encryption options offered by the provider? Another important question to ask is; who is responsible for the encryption /decryption keys? [3]. Also you will find that cloud providers work with several other third parties, who might have access to your data. Have you had all these concerns addressed by your provider?

Data separation / segregation: Your provider could be hosting your data along with several other clients’ (multi-tenancy).. Have you been given verifiable assurance that this data is segregated and separated from the data of the provider’s other clients? According to the Gartner report, its a good practice to find out “what is done to segregate data at rest,” [2]

Business continuity: What is the acceptable cloud service down time that you have agreed with your provider? Do these down times compare well with your organization acceptable down time policy? Are there are any penalties/ compensations for downtime, which could lead to business loss? What measures are in place by your provider to ensure business continuity and availability of your data / services that are hosted on their cloud infrastructure in case of disaster? Does your provider have options for data replication across multiple sites? How easy is restoring data in case a need arises?

Cloud services providers have increased their efforts in addressing some of the most pressing issues with cloud security. In response to cloud security challenges, an umbrella non-profit organization called the Cloud Security Alliance was formed, some of its members include: Microsoft, Google, Verizon, Intel, McAfee, Amazon, Dell, HP, among others, its mission is “To promote the use of best practices for providing security assurance within Cloud Computing, and provide education on the uses of Cloud Computing to help secure all other forms of computing” [4]

As more and more organizations move to the cloud for web-based applications, storage, and communications services for mission-critical processes, there is need to ensure that cloud security issues are addressed.

Guide To Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is the newest rage in the internet’s development. There are many different definitions of what cloud computing is. In the broadest sense, it can be defined as anything that happens outside of a firewall. A narrower focus defines it as a virtual server. For our purposes, we will consider it the latter. Cloud Computing in our definition eliminates the need to install and run applications on a user’s own computers and simplifies maintenance and support. Instead of having to develop internal systems, or having to customize a third party business solution, cloud computing provides a flexible environment with much lower initial cost.

Cloud computing is the set of hardware, networks, storage, services, and interfaces that combine to deliver different aspects of computing as a service. Cloud services include the delivery of software, infrastructure, and storage over the Internet. It can be delivered whenever and wherever a user needs a particular service. The services can be either separate components or complete platforms The delivery is based on user demand. There are four crucial characteristics of cloud computing. They include flexibility and the ability to scale up and down, application programming interfaces (APIs), stipulating and automatic billing, and metering of service usage in a pay-as-you-go model.

The cloud has several participants. Among them are business managers who take responsibility for the authority of data or services living in a cloud. Cloud service providers must provide a predictable and guaranteed level of service and security to all their constituents. Cloud service providers must take responsibility for cloud assets and maintenance. The service requester is a second user. Requesters can be private or public, part of a same organization managing the cloud, or part of a group sharing the cloud. A third participant is the end user who usually doesn’t know anything about the underlying technology.

Cloud computing comes in different forms. Public clouds are based on the standard cloud computing model, in which a service provider makes resources, such as applications and storage, available to the general public over the Internet. Public cloud services may be free or offered on a pay-per-usage basis. Private cloud is infrastructure operated solely for a single business or organization. They can be managed internally or by a third-party and hosted internally or externally. A drawback to private clouds is that organizations have to be buy, build, and manage them. This negates the economic model that makes cloud computing such a popular and fascinating concept.

Another cloud form is a hybrid of public and private clouds. They are named, not surprisingly, hybrid clouds. A hybrid cloud is a composition of two or more clouds that remain distinctive entities but are bound together. Hybrid clouds are connected in a way that allows programs and data to be moved easily from one deployment system to another. Community clouds share infrastructure between several organizations from a specific community with common concerns. They are managed internally or by a third-party and hosted internally or externally. The costs are spread over fewer users than a public cloud so not all the cost savings potential of cloud computing are realized.

Many businesses are eager to evaluate and realize the benefits of cloud computing. Businesses must also realize the potential business risks that the technology exposes. The chief risk is giving up control of your processes. Many analysts feel that performance and availability are two of the key factors to the widespread adoption of cloud computing. Security is a big concern for many enterprises as well.

Concerns aside, cloud computing is changing the way companies use technology to service customers, partners, and suppliers. Some businesses, such as Google and Amazon, already have most of their IT resources in the cloud. They have found that it can eliminate many of the complex constraints from the traditional computing environment, including space, time, power, and cost.

Benefit You Got Using Cloud Computing

Many hosted services are offered over the web for a variety of business needs. The general term used to refer to all of these is cloud computing. Cloud computing allows online companies to use resources over the internet rather than build and maintain their own in-house infrastructures.

Cloud computing is a trendy term that can be heard everywhere these days. Simply put, it refers to storing and accessing information and applications over the web instead of getting them all stored on the hard drive of your computer.

Storing or running programs from your hard drive is called local storage. This means that everything you need is physically there with you, making access to data easy and fast, especially for the one computer and the others connected to it through a local network. This was how many industries functioned for a long time before the cloud came along.

The “cloud” refers to the internet. This calls back to the times in office presentations when the internet was represented by a puffy cloud that accepts and gives information as it hovers above everything.

You may be using cloud computing at some aspect of life without realising it. This applies to online services that you use to send email, edit your documents, stream films or TV shows, listen to music, play games online, or store files and images. Cloud computinga makes all these things possible behind it all.

The first services to use cloud computing are a couple of decades old, rising fast so that a wide range of organisations are already using the service. This includes startups to big corporations as well as non-profits and government agencies.

Cloud computing at a glance

According to a study by the IDC, 50% of information technology will transition to the cloud within 5-10 years. Among the industries that rely heavily on data are the financial sector, telecommunications, technology, health care, government, advertising, retail, gaming, energy and data services.

Furthermore, 82% of companies have found significant savings in moving to the cloud. 60% of businesses already make use of cloud-based IT for operations. 82% of companies are also planning for a multi-cloud strategy.

These stats show that cloud computing holds much promise as a rising industry as well as a valuable resource for companies to take advantage of.

Cloud solutions for business

There are three different types of cloud solutions that businesses can choose from to find the best fit – private cloud, hybrid cloud and public cloud. Each offer different features and benefits. But with each type, the end result stays the same: cloud computing can be done wherever you are, at any time.

Private cloud

Private cloud works in industries with concerns for privacy, including medium businesses and more established enterprises that need to meet standards for security and compliance.

One example is IoT companies, such as those who trace customers through their phones. Other examples include health data companies, e-commerce sites that store credit card data, industries with high intellectual property concerns, and companies that emphasise data sovereignty.

Private cloud is managed by an in-house team of IT personnel or by a private host.

Private cloud offers complete control and flexibility, enabling businesses to manage their own dedicated resources within a third party datacentre.

Hybrid cloud

Hybrid cloud is for companies that prefer the security offered by private cloud. This type of cloud solution is best for workloads that are highly dynamic and prone to changeability. This includes enterprises that can be split into two spheres, sensitive and non-sensitive.

Hybrid cloud also works best for businesses with seasonal data spikes, big data processing, and those with workloads involving API compatibility and requiring solid connection to a network. Hybrid cloud takes its name from the fact that it is managed by both in-house and external resources.

This mix of private and public clouds offer blending of such services as Office 365 for email with other applications that businesses don’t want to be made available in a shared environment.

Public cloud

Public cloud is for industries that have a significant amount of data with no major concerns for privacy. Companies that use this service opt for a pay-as-you-go structure. This type of cloud solution is managed by third party providers.

Industries that use public cloud include those in development and testing, development platform, training servers, one-off big data projects and websites with public information, product descriptions and brochures.

Public cloud is perfect for services, applications and storage that are made publicly available as well as those that use shared resources that are managed by the cloud provider.

More benefits in the cloud

Now that you know the different types of cloud solutions available, it’s time to go over the benefits of moving to the cloud. As a growing trend, cloud computing offers many. Here are five of them.

1. Time-saving, on-demand services

Cloud computing features self-service delivery for different types of workloads and needs. What makes it so attractive to businesses is that any service can be available on-demand. This effectively removes the need for companies to maintain in-house IT staff, especially for small businesses, or manage physical computer resources.

Cloud hosting allows users to get access to their files from any device, anywhere and at any time. This means that files don’t get stored in just one computer, enabling faster operations and availability. Storing in the cloud also makes it safer for businesses to protect their files, with faster backup options and recovery in cases of breaches or similar scenarios.

According to TSG, 45% of companies that use private cloud solution in their operations have enjoyed significant reduction of the time it takes to install applications. This time-saving feature enables companies to enjoy faster processes and improve productivity for employees.

Cloud computing can make integration easier for you. A lot of cloud computing applications include an Application Programming Interface (API) where you can find apps that are compatible instead of having to pay to have them customised for you so you can integrate them.

2. Flexibility

One of the biggest benefits offered by cloud computing is its flexibility. People on your team can access files and information that are relevant to work anywhere and on any device. In a highly mobile world, this is especially important.

Moreover, many companies now offer flexible working arrangements, such as remote workers and telecommuting. With cloud computing, employees can access work files even when they are not in the office, making it easier for them to work wherever they are. For small businesses, this also makes it easier for them to easily manage their operations wherever they are.

Increased flexibility and mobility enable businesses to let their employees use the devices they are comfortable with. This can include tablets, laptops and smartphones, helping employees improve their personal productivity.

With this type of elasticity, companies are able to scale up as their computing needs increase as well as scale down when they decrease. This saves them from having to invest in infrastructure that may not be needed later on in time.

3. Lower costs with pay per use

One of the best immediate benefits of moving your business to the cloud is that there is significant financial savings involved. Cloud computing fully makes use of hardware. With virtualisation, the value of the physical server is increased, giving businesses the opportunity to do more with less.

Cloud computing enables businesses, especially startups, to decrease the need for physical space, power usage, IT resources and more. As a result, there is a lower need for installation, maintenance, upgrades and costs for support and hardware. For SMBs, this is a valuable way of saving resources so they can concentrate on online growth.

Cloud-based resources are measured at granular level, which means that users only pay for the workloads and resources that they use. You also don’t need to buy software anymore or pay for someone or a team to update or install the software, manage email or file servers or run backups.

The benefit of cloud computing is that all of the applications and services are taken over by the cloud vendor, instead of you having to be responsible for any of it.

4. Improved collaboration

Productivity is increased by cloud computing due to its accessibility. Since everyone who needs access to files and data can get them wherever they are, there is less need for employees to be in the same room. This is especially relevant for workers or employees who need to travel a lot.

Teams in different locations all over the globe can readily collaborate on projects without needing to actually meet. Easy sharing and real time updates on files are facilitated, and more things will get done with web conferencing for meetings.

Cloud computing lets small businesses grow quickly online. It’s faster, easier and more convenient to sign up for a cloud-based app than to purchase a server, run it, and install software on it. Expansion is cheaper as there is no need to invest in hardware and software for the startup.

Cloud-based applications can also be accessed on common web browsers at any time. This means that users across the company can adopt to the applications without the need for intensive training. This is especially valuable for businesses with employees in different locations.

5. Enhanced security with instant updates

There is increased security for companies as software is automatically updated, bugs are fixed and content is remotely stored.

Those who have doubts on what the cloud has to offer are concerned about the safety of data outside the company’s internal firewall. The truth is, due to the robust security standards established by ISO, safety is increased when cloud solutions are used. Moreover, cloud providers are strictly required to follow the rules.

As a result, risks are reduced when it comes to loss of laptops containing confidential information as well as the threats of hackers. You can also remotely wipe sensitive data from lost laptops and gadgets so nobody else can access them.

When it comes to ensuring security with the cloud service you choose, you need to know first where your data is stored. Firewalls, detection and prevention tools as well as data encryption can help prevent intruders from getting at your information. However, you still need to know where your data goes when you stop with the service or in cases where the cloud provider closes down. Dedicated hardware is what cloud computing providers need to pass the highest security guidelines.

Data backup is recommended to make sure that you can increase your control over your data. Ensure that the data centre you’re using takes security seriously. Find out what security measures are in place in the server and data centre where your data is stored.

Managed services are also a valuable option in making your data and apps stronger. This includes managed antivirus, firewalls and detection tools. High quality cloud providers offer these to allow for better security.

On top of it all, updates, including on security, are automated.

Cloud service providers can regularly update offers, giving customers the most up to date technology possible. This can include software, servers and computer processing power. Customers can avoid wasting their time maintaining systems and updating them once new features roll out. Suppliers take care of those themselves, out of sight.

As a result, businesses can focus on growing their business while enjoying the best that the latest technology has to offer.

To round up, the top benefits you get from cloud computing include:

– Saving time resources with services that you can enjoy on-demand

– Flexibility and mobility of access

– More affordable services with pay per use

– Better collaboration within teams, especially for overseas or traveling employees

– Heightened security measures in place plus automated updates

Cloud Computing Nowadays

The Sky is the Limit

The sky is indeed the limit. Most technology firms, expert analysts and even the highly successful enterprises of today will probably agree that the future is in the clouds. Thanks to cloud computing, flying in Cloud 9 isn’t that hard to achieve nowadays. Although the definition of cloud computing is constantly evolving, probably due to its growing demand and usage over the past years, the subject still arouses the interest of many businesses – a huge factor in catapulting the technology into a global trend that it is today. Cloud computing isn’t really something new. In fact, cloud computing has been around for years, being used by companies such as IBM, Microsoft and Oracle privately within their own business model. But now that the technology has grown larger than life, it’s turning out to be the primary direction that almost everyone is taking on.

The Future has Arrived

In spite of Larry Ellison’s criticism in 2010 that cloud computing is just a fad and that the technology, according to the Oracle CEO, will soon share the same fate of SOAs and EDIs, IDC Research Director Dan Yachi counteracted by saying, “Cloud computing is more than just buzz. It is here to stay and is expected to take increasing shares of total IT spending worldwide. From a VC perspective, the even better news is that cloud computing is still far from maturity. There are many technology gaps that are not yet filled, especially in the areas of cloud enablement, management, monitoring, and security. In particular, VCs can find investment opportunities in start-up companies that develop solutions for hybrid cloud, which is expected to experience increased demand over the coming years.” Indeed, the future is here!

Cloud Computing Defined

Taking it to the cloud has a lot of advantages. It’s all simple. Cloud computing minimizes cost by transferring the resources of each client into an infrastructure capable of storing insurmountable amounts of data via WAN or the WWW. Truth be told, for an enterprise to compete with the rest nowadays, it is no longer a question whether or not to use a certain type of cloud service, for that would mean utter extinction. The question right now is – what kind of cloud service will a particular business use? Currently, cloud computing technology has the following different types of deployment models: public cloud, community cloud, hybrid cloud, combined cloud and private cloud. New models may emerge in the following years, but every single type usually has the following layers:

  • Provider – Company proving cloud service. Example: Rackspace, Salesforce, etc.
  • Client – Devices or software that will interact with the cloud service. Example: PC, mobile devices, etc.
  • Application – Eliminates installation in physical devices. Example: SaaS (Software as a Service)
  • Platform – Delivers a set of software subsystems platform. Example: PaaS (Platform as a Service)
  • Infrastructure – Infrastructure services that renders a virtual environment as a service rather than buying servers and software. Example: IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)
  • Server – Composed of hardware and software products that include processors, operating systems and other offers.

Cloud Computing Trends

Now that the era of cloud computing has arrived, various milestones are happening everywhere and giant companies are more than willing to take advantage of being high in the clouds. Come to think of it, the survey shows that more than 50 percent of organizations and businesses have taken advantage of cloud computing and according to Gartner research firm, the growth will increase by 17 percent per annum. So Larry Ellison was wrong after all. On the contrary, Apple CEO Steve Jobs seems to have smelled the right opportunity when he led his company in releasing the iCloud storage service for iOS devices, in spite of some patent issues surrounding the name. To summarize our observations, we bring to you the following cloud computing trends:

  • It’s the new business model – There’s no doubt that cloud computing is the new business model for today’s enterprise. CIOs and IT execs are now hustling in spotting the perfect cloud service for their company. The U.S. Department of Agriculture for example, jumped for the cloud when it chose Microsoft as its cloud services provider. When U.S. President Barack Obama instituted the “cloud-first” policy that required the federal agencies to submit some of their vital services to the cloud, it is as if the fate of cloud computing has been sealed.
  • It’s more improved and even getting better – Cloud computing might have some security issues in the past but it doesn’t mean that it will remain poor forever. It has been reported last year that nearly 51% percent of companies are fearful and hesitant in moving over to the cloud due to security concerns. But this year is totally different. Newer systems have emerged including complex layers and architecture in the various models thus providing greater reliability and security for its clients. But what most people don’t realize is that the main advantage of cloud computing lies in its fast recovery rate with a minimal costing when disaster strikes compared to the standard hardware-dependent disaster solutions that most IT departments have.
  • Its timing is perfect – Considering today’s fierce competition, it’s really hard to stand out. What we need is a new solution to a complex problem. Cloud computing seems to be the perfect conduit to face the challenges ahead. With newer trends emerging particularly in the mobile realm, cloud computing has arrived just in time to meet the demands. CSPs including Verizon and Orange have joined the game, as well as Comcast and Charter with their various partnerships with Sharepoint and Exchange. Smaller businesses without IT departments are also seeing greener pastures with pay-as-you-go Cloud services. It’s really faster and more cost efficient for them. Joshua Beil, Director of Market Strategy and Research for Parallels, has an even more interesting description about the cloud computing trend. Citing his predictions on the technology, Joshua said that the trend has shifted into an eat-all-you-can model just like the standard unlimited long distance service offers. But as to the question when will the trend stop, it’s really hard to answer because the cloud is just starting.

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