You’ve heard about the Cloud, you may even have an idea of what it is. But what does the Cloud really mean, and more importantly, how can it help your business?
Cloud services encompass any subscription-based or pay-per-use service that, in real time over the Internet, extends your networkâ€™s existing capabilities.
Cloud computing is a method of outsourcing your applications, files, and data from your network to other servers that are accessed via the Internet. This gives you the ability to access all of the applications, data, and files you have opted to store in the Cloud, from any computer, wherever an Internet connection is available.
Most computer programs can be hosted in the Cloud, from generic word processing to customized software solutions. With Cloud computing, there is a significant workload shift. Hardware and software demands on the userâ€™s side decrease because the heavy lifting is handled by the Cloud provider.
Instead of having to perform maintenance yourself, Cloud providers handle all the maintenance, infrastructure, and repairs for you and you pay a subscription fee for these services.
Cloud services include:
- Software as a Service (SaaS) – The provider delivers software applications across the Internet through a browser for you.
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – The provider owns, operates, and maintains the servers and hardware and manages the network and storage for you.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS) – The provider owns, operates, and maintains the servers and hardware, along with the network and storage, but also provides and manages all operating systems and databases for you.
The biggest concern about Cloud computing is security and privacy. Handing over critical data to a third party can also be a concern. Since companies are able to access their applications and data from anywhere at any time, it also means itâ€™s possible for privacy to be compromised. Companies should take precautions to protect the privacy and security of their data.
What happens if you decide to leave your current Cloud provider and want your data back? Many companies are surprised to find that their Cloud service contracts often don’t outline data return policies. In addition, Cloud providers are returning data to their customers in formats and at times that are convenient to the provider, not necessarily to the customer. Companies often find that they have to do a fair amount of work to convert their data into a format that is useable by the new provider.
There are, however, steps a company can take to negotiate data return provisions that are fair to both parties. Companies should ask for specific data return provisions upfront in any IT sourcing contract. Ideally, the contract would state that the Cloud provider would return the data within a specified time period in the format the company requires.