Everybody knows the differences between using software housed in a company- or home-based server versus subscribing to that same software through a cloud service, right? Maybe, but maybe not; sometimes there’s a gray area connecting them, and a user might know some of the differences, but it’s more likely he or she won’t know them all.
Like a good baseball player who takes extra reps in the field and batting practice each day, we all need to go back and revisit the fundamentals now and then. So we spell out these cloud facts for you here in this article, and they’re equally as important for seasoned veterans as they are for newbies. Hopefully, we include the most important facts to help you with questions involving your own use cases.
Cloud computing pros:
Cloud computing lowers IT ops costs because the cloud provider manages the underlying infrastructure, including hardware and software. Those managed components are typically more reliable and secure than the standard corporate data center because that’s the provider’s main business. These advantages enable IT teams to focus on work that more directly benefits the company.
The cloud is also global, convenient, eminently scalable, and accessible, all of which accelerate the time to create and deploy software applications. It opens organizations to a host of newer services that enable the most popular trends in application architectures and uses, including microservices, containers, serverless computing, machine learning, large-scale data analytics, IoT, and more.
Unlimited storage capacity
Automated backup/restore of files and data
Cloud backup is a service in which the data and applications on a business’s servers are backed up and stored on a remote server. Companies opt to back up to the cloud to keep files and data readily available in the event of a system failure, outage, or natural disaster. Users also can do this on private or corporate servers, but cloud-service providers do this as standard practice 24/7, and users don’t have to think about it.
Fewer administrative or management hassles
Subscription model easier to manage than an entire system
Users get a monthly bill; pay it, and you’re good. Your days of buying and managing applications, storage arrays, software, and security are over.
Improved collaboration and mobility
Users can access their apps, data, and files from anywhere on the planet and on any device — provided they have a good, secure internet connection. The cloud has unwired the world.
Cloud computing cons:
While IT teams lower their capital expenses with cloud computing because they’re not buying hardware and software, they also add non-trivial operating expenses to their budgets — often enough to offset most or all of their operational savings. Complex pricing and security models can also lead to major problems if IT teams are unable to adapt. IT teams often must learn new skills or hire employees to navigate the cloud, and there are limits in the flexibility and control over certain cloud resources.
Dependent upon an internet connection at all times
Files are easy to store but not as simple to recover and download
When working with files, images, video, data logs, and other objects stored in a cloud, make sure you understand the ingress and egress rules and limitations. VPC (Virtual Private Cloud) Service Controls have a number of ingress and egress rules to allow access to and from the resources and clients protected by service perimeters. For example, the Google Cloud Platform storage ingress and egress rules are fairly extensive and explain a long list of subtopics, including policy models, API request examples, and others. An overview of Google’s VPC Service Controls can be found here.
Similarly, Amazon Web Services has its set of VPC rules, as does Microsoft Azure. Not understanding these rules can cause lost time and effort for the user or company.
Cloud management can be complicated to monitor
Cloud computing management raises many information systems management issues that include ethical (security, availability, confidentiality, and privacy) issues, legal and jurisdictional issues, data lock-in, lack of standardized service level agreements (SLAs), and customisation technological bottlenecks, and others.
Technology vulnerabilities, especially in shared environments
Sharing a cloud provider has some associated risks. The most common cloud security issues include unauthorized access through improper access controls and the misuse of employee credentials. According to industry surveys, unauthorized access and insecure APIs are tied for the No. 1 spot as the single biggest perceived security vulnerability in the cloud. Others include internet protocol vulnerabilities, data recovery vulnerability, metering, billing evasion, vendor security risks, compliance and legal risks, and availability risks.
Data loss or theft and data leakage
When you store files and data in someone else’s server, you’re trusting the provider with your crown jewels. Whether in a cloud or on a private server, data loss refers to the unwanted removal of sensitive information, either due to an information system error or theft by cybercriminals. Data leaks are unauthorized exposures of sensitive information through vulnerabilities on the digital landscape. Data leakage threats usually occur via the web and email, but they can also happen via mobile data storage devices, such as optical media, USB keys, and laptops. Data loss occurs when data is accidentally deleted, or something causes data to become corrupted. Viruses, physical damage, or formatting errors can render data unreadable by both humans and software. In other instances, lost files and information cannot be recovered, making data loss prevention an essential tool.
Denial of service attacks
A denial-of-service (DoS) attack is an attack meant to shut down a machine or network, making it inaccessible to its intended users. DoS attacks accomplish this by flooding the target with traffic or sending it information that triggers a crash. Cloud-service users have little or no control over DoS attacks; this again illustrates the importance of personal data backup.