An introduction to cloud computing
Cloud based computing has been around for a quite a while in the IT world. It has, however, taken off more recently with the plethora of new web based applications such as content management systems, customer relations management solutions and even the ability to run office applications like word or excel from your browser.
What is the cloud?
The cloud is a coined term to define any data or application stored on a server that can be accessed from a computer with internet access. This means you can be at home, in the office or in your local coffee shop and still access all the applications and data that you need to get your work done. It opens the door to remote working, resulting in a potentially happier employee or reaching the best candidates that would otherwise be unwilling or unable to make the daily commute to the office.
Why does my business need the cloud?
- Your data is available from anywhere in the world at any time, day or night.
- Reduced costs - Keeping systems on site means the purchase of hardware and software to store and manage your data on top of the running costs and maintenance. Storing your data in the cloud keeps your overheads low.
What do I need to be aware of?
Cloud computing for your business can be an invaluable asset when utilised correctly. What you need to know about is the security issue of having all your business data available on the internet. The following is a non exhaustive list that applies to cloud computing, and some can also be applied to other aspects of security in IT.
- The data is protected by an account - usually a username and password combination. Weak passwords like '12345' or 'password' which, believe it or not, are still widely used open the door to a malicious person to break into a system within minutes.
- If the server is not properly maintained and updated regularly newly discovered loopholes and bugs can be exploited
- If the software application you access is not properly maintained and updated loopholes and bugs can be exploited
- You need an internet connection to access your data and get your work done. If there is an outage or you are in a remote location there is very little you can do.
- Unless you are hosting the server from your own premises, you are most likely putting your data into the hands of somebody else. If there was some kind of problem -- data left in an old backup, for example -- YOU could be liable under the data protection act whether you knew about the data or not. Microbytes take steps to ensure that your data is isolated from others in the cloud and that data is securely encrypted.