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Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing

Could your business data weather any storm? As more and more business critical data is now being stored electronically, it is of the upmost importance that your data is kept safe and secure. Have you ever stopped to think what would happen if you were to lose your business critical data such as your accounts or customer database? How would you process you end of year tax returns or ensure your customers were billed correctly? It has been known ever since the start of the computing era, how important it is to have backup copies of your data, but how do you manage this? Previously it has been the case of taking a copy of your data at the end of each day and putting this on a physical storage device you can take away with you, but let’s face it you don’t need the hassle or have the time to do this and what if you don’t get everything you need? Cloud computing could be the answer to protecting your business most valuable asset.

What is Cloud Computing???

You may have used Cloud computing without even knowing about it. Have you ever uploaded a photo to Facebook? Where does it go and how is it you can see it on any computer or device you log on to your account with? If your computer goes wrong you still have your photos on Facebook and this is because you are uploading your photos/data to Facebook’s Cloud.

A Cloud is essentially an online repository/storage for your data and programs which you can connect to in real-time through communication networks such as the Internet or a company’s internal network. This repository or storage can also be accessed by multiple people at the same time, which makes it very easy to share data and collaborate.

When data is stored on the Cloud, it is common practice that your data is stored on multiple computer servers/hard drives and in multiple geographical locations. This ensures that if something goes wrong with one computer server or storage location, all your data is still safe and secure at one or more of the other repositories.

Because the whole Cloud process can be automated to backup data across different repositories in real time, you will no longer need to remember to take backups of your data onto physical external storage device, saving you the hassle and headache. This gives the Cloud a silver lining, leaving you safe in the knowledge that your data is secure.

Different types of Clouds???

There are three different types/forms which the Cloud can come in: Public, Private and Hybrid. Depending of the types of data you are working with, you will want to compare all three as they all offer different advantages/disadvantages and security.

Public Cloud…

A Public Cloud is basically a Cloud which takes advantage of internet based repositories which are shared between many users in the public. Examples of Public Clouds are Facebook, Google Docs, Microsoft’s SkyDrive, Apple’s iCloud or Drop Box, plus many others.

Some advantages of the Public Cloud can include the ease of being able to share information with anyone and the fact that these are either free or operated as pay-per-usage models, meaning there are no upfront hardware costs. This model is also highly scalable as you can often add more resources/capacity with a click of a button.

The disadvantages of the Public Cloud means that it may not be suitable for every organisation as this can be less than suitable for sensitive data due to security risks and may not comply with relevant industry regulations. Keeping your data on such Public Clouds means that you never quite know where your data is being stored and may not even be in the same country. For example Public Cloud services operated by USA owned companies could be riffled through under the Patriot Act by the American Government, leaving your sensitive data exposed.

As with anything you pay for what you get, free and low cost Cloud services are often less secure than Private or Premium Public and because of this can act as magnets to anyone looking to hack into and steal or harm data.

Private Cloud…

Private Clouds are data centres/repositories which are owned by a single company or organisation. For example you may wish to install a Server into your office building or secure location which you then grant access to certain users. These users could be based in the office or remotely access the data provided on your Private Cloud.

Sharing data between authorised users on a Private Cloud is normally secure but because of this it can make it difficult to share this information with the public. The advantages of a Private Cloud are that it gives you greater control over your data, better security, plus you know exactly where your data is at all times. Using Private Cloud can often be suitable to organisations with sensitive data because of the greater control over the data and the ability to apply industry compliant regulation.

The disadvantage of Private Cloud is they can often be costly to set up with large upfront hardware costs and can be quite complex. Private Clouds are also not as scalable as Public Clouds as if you needed to add capacity it would require additional hardware purchases.

Hybrid Cloud…

Hybrid Cloud essentially combines Public and Private Clouds in order to extract the benefits from both of these models. This could involve using several different providers of public clouds as well a Private Cloud and combining these together.

With this ability to combine the different Clouds together, the Hybrid Cloud model can offer a highly customisable solution. Combining the different Clouds together allows for dynamic shifting from one to another to satisfy the requirements of different applications and projects at the time.

Hybrid Clouds allow businesses to reap the rewards and benefits of both the Public Cloud with its cost-effective solutions and the security of the Private Cloud. The Hybrid Cloud also offers companies the opportunity to scale easily by allocating resources to projects when needed and disband them when no longer required. This is achieved by virtualising the environment and allowing access to cloud services to provide Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) such as virtual Servers. This allows you to pool hardware resources from a multitude of servers, usually distributed across numerous data centres which the Cloud is responsible for maintaining. By accessing these virtualised components you are able to build your own IT platform.

So in summary, Cloud computing can offer great advantages over old fashioned infrastructures that rely on in-house servers only, by offering greater scalability while reducing the need to invest large sums of money in hardware. Cloud computing can also remove location dependence as you can access your services from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection. This can also help with removing single-point-of-failure from your infrastructure as all good Cloud services will have redundancy built in. Physical security of your IT infrastructure will also improve when using Cloud services as all good datacentres will provide these services from a high security facility with 24hr guards and a range of other security measures.

If you wish to find out more about the Cloud and how your business could benefit,

Please contact Anglia IT Solutions on 01553 609969 – email sales@anglia.it

By Andrew Mash

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