Information is precious to any organisation today. From documents and records for regulatory requirements to highly sensitive contact information used for marketing and messaging, data is the new currency.
However, with data storage and computer processing power used for nearly all aspects of business, there is only so much that most organisations can, or want to, manage in-house. This is why companies are turning more and more towards cloud computing or cloud models for their data needs.
Let’s take a look at each of these models, what types there are, what they offer, and what some of the potential pros and cons are for each.
The Cloud Models
The cloud enables businesses to use it for various tasks and objectives. These usually fall into three kinds of services, namely infrastructure, platforms and software services.
IaaS – Infrastructure-as-a-Service
Infrastructure-as-a-Service or IaaS enables users to access computing resources that may not be physically available for them. IaaS includes servers, storage and networking solutions that can host platforms and applications.
- Users pay per month, on-demand.
- Infrastructure is scalable to meet user needs for processing power and storage.
- Data is stored securely and safely outside of the organisation.
- Backup and recovery solutions are available.
PaaS – Platform-as-a-Service
With PaaS, users have access to a cloud environment where they can develop, manage, test and deliver applications. They often come with a suite of built-in tools to help them develop and customise their applications effectively.
- Users pay per month for an environment to test, develop and host applications with the same, stable environment.
- Enables organisations not to have to worry about underlying infrastructure when developing.
- Providers manage security, operating systems, server software and backups.
- Promotes and enables collaboration for remote teams.
SaaS – Software-as-a-Service
Many companies use applications to achieve various functions, such as accounting and document management. SaaS offers these services in a cloud-based environment. Users do not physically buy and install apps on their local devices. Instead, they access on a remote cloud network via the internet or an API.
- Users gain access to software and applications via subscription.
- Users do not have to install or upgrade software – the provider does it on their end.
- Use of resources and features is scalable.
The Types of Cloud
While there are three main kinds of cloud-based services, each of those services could theoretically be hosted on three different types of clouds. These clouds are called private clouds, public clouds or hybrid clouds.
Private clouds are digital clouds where a single business has sole access to its resources. Companies may choose to have a private cloud located at a particular data centre, or hosted by a third-party provider.
The primary benefit of a private cloud is that it provides greater security since it limits the amount of access to the cloud. Having a private cloud also means that organisations can customise it to meet their own requirements.
However, private clouds can be expensive to install and maintain. Businesses are also restricted according to the contract they sign when they acquire the cloud.
Public clouds are what most people think of when they talk about “the cloud”. They are hosted by a service provider such as Amazon, Google or Microsoft, and enable customers to access and share the cloud infrastructure. This includes hardware, storage and bandwidth.
Public clouds are much cheaper for customers than private clouds, as customers only pay for the resources they use from that cloud. In addition to this, they are also easier to maintain, as they are not responsible for installing and maintaining it.
The major disadvantage of public clouds involves security. Many public clouds do not meet the security regulatory compliance requirements of some industries, as their servers reside in multiple countries with different regulations. Moreover, access to public clouds can be a problem during peak times in online traffic or downtime out of an organisation’s control.
Hybrid clouds offer the best of both worlds to their customers. Applications and data can freely move between both a private and public cloud offering. For instance, customers can choose to store data in a private cloud, while running their applications in a public cloud.
While this enables greater flexibility with cost and use, hybrid clouds can often be hard to maintain and secure on account of being more complex in its function. They are often hard to integrate with other applications, and major compatibility issues can arise across the infrastructure when developing on a hybrid cloud as well.
The Pros and Cons of Cloud Services
Now that you have a basic understanding of the different offerings via the cloud, we can discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of cloud services.
Let’s begin with the pros.
The Pros of Cloud Services
Invest as you use
Instead of investing vast amounts of money into data centres, servers and expertise, businesses can now pay for what they use thanks to cloud services. This enables companies to only pay for what they use and helps them manage their expenditure according to their needs at the time.
Unlimited, instant scalability
One of the most significant advantages of using cloud-based services is their ability to scale near-instantaneously. As your business grows, you can upgrade your service and gain access to whatever you need right away – and for a fraction of the cost, it would take to implement a similar solution yourself.
Spending money on running and maintaining data centres can be a massive drain on a company’s resources. In addition to this, the scale of some required solutions demands substantial investment on behalf of the business. Cloud computing takes care of all of those investments for you, allowing you to focus on the customers.
Cloud computing’s greatest advantage is no doubt its ability to be accessed anywhere there is an internet connection. Employees from around the world can collaborate and access resources when they need them, wherever they are located.
The Cons of Cloud Services
Of course, while cloud computing has many advantages, it also has a few drawbacks to consider.
Lack of control
While users can scale to their needs, they never actually have full control over the assets they use. Many cloud providers include specific clauses that lock businesses into contracts that may prove to be a hindrance down the road. Companies should be mindful of what they sign up for before using any service.
While cloud computing is not necessarily worse than physical storage when it comes to theft or abuse, anyone who has an internet connection can access it, theoretically. This opens it up for cybercrime and could be a catastrophe in the event of a leak for less careful providers and businesses.
Cloud costs (short term)
In the medium to long term, cloud computing can have a positive effect on a business’ expenditure. However, for short term projects or very long term use, cloud computing may prove to be pricey. While it can allow a reduction in staff and hardware costs, the overall price tag could end up higher than expected.
Get to Cloud 9
No matter what the pros and cons are, cloud services are here to stay, and they’re already transforming businesses around the world. With data being such a vital asset, it’s only natural for SaaS, PaaS and IaaS to come into widespread use. However, each of these solutions is vulnerable to attack.
Fastman’s cloud-based security solutions are the answer to counter this viable threat. Fastman Permissions Manager is a trusted, robust and dependable security solution for cloud-based products and services.
Protect your data today with Fastman by contacting them, or visit the Fastman website for more information.