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. This cloud model is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models.[i] —National Institute of Standards and Technology (2010, p. 2)
Cloud computing is the emerging technology that aims at providing network access to computing resources including data, storage, processing, and network bandwidth. Such resources are typically gathered in large-scale data centers and form a shared pool, which can serve multiple applications. Computer network and handheld computing devices have become so popular because cloud computing users are now able to access such resources from anywhere. Low-cost and reliable handheld computing devices coupled with fast and convenient Internet service provide a level of accessibility that personal computers can never reach.
Today, cloud computing users no longer worry about losing their data because automatic data backup and restore can resolve this problem. They also do not have to worry about the limit of local storage since there is unlimited storage in the cloud. And, these users also have access to any software application available via the cloud. They benefit from many applications built for cloud computing and can easily share their data, such as photo and video, with other users without any complicated prior setup.
Cloud computing has certainly brought many advantages; however, it still forces us to wrestle with three key challenges related to strategy, operations and people:
Cloud computing enables speed, agility, and innovation. You need to move from the drawing board to deployment. Do you understand what cloud computing is and what benefits cloud computing will bring to your organization? Is your organization ready to adapt?
- Cloud Computing Environments
You need to choose a cloud computing environment that’s right for your organization. Should you consider private cloud, public cloud or a hybrid cloud solution? Which vendors play in this space? Will they be in business 12 months from now? Have you done the homework?
- Security & Privacy
If someone else is running your computers and software, you need strategies to stay secure. Have you visited your organization’s security policy and procedure to identify any potential inconsistency and incompliancy? Your security policy depends on how many pieces you control—the more you own, the more you control. Are you ready to extend your enterprise security policy to the cloud?[ii]
Cloud computing is a great technology because it can cut business costs and provide even better quality of service to as many users as possible. In addition, it may be predicted that more and more businesses and individual users will rely on cloud and its service in the near future. Yet, due to the nature of cloud technology, the way we used to manage and monitor data or software application may not work in the cloud. The main challenge posed to us, therefore, is “How will we embrace this new type of technology for our advantage and benefit?”
[i] U.S. Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology. (2011, September). The NIST definition of cloud computing. (NIST Special Publication 800-145). Gaithersburg, MD: Author. Retrieved from http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/nistpubs/800-145/SP800-145.pdf (p. 2)