the software is installed and configured
correctly. Subsequently, you would have
to invest in the maintenance of that
software, making sure that the data are
backed up, that it is secure from outside
and inside attackers, and so on. Essentially, your vendor turns the software over to
you, and it is therefore up to you to provide the environment required to make it
Conversely, the “cloud” way of providing software is for your vendor to supply
you with a user ID and password. This
doesn’t necessitate an in-depth understanding of infrastructure—that cost is
reduced to just providing a computer
with Internet access. This is one of the
big ideas in cloud computing,
as is commonly called Software as a Service, or SaaS for short.
By contrast, a cloud computing resource is virtual. It never breaks or becomes outdated. The cloud can move
around to different locations without
you even being aware of the motion.
It can expand and contract along with
your needs, and that of your clients and
In each of the three areas above, you
can significant improvements in both
functionality and cost savings when employing the cloud.
is it Safe?
The idea that computers you are using
to run your company and service your
customers are “someplace out there” can
be unsettling. This carries over to the vendors that you use—the service they provide may run on computers that are not
located in their facilities. You
must therefore consider if
the reliability, security,
and availability of
your data are jeopardized by the cloud.
The idea may
sound scary at first.
At least that was my
experience. We need to
carefully think through the implications.
The cloud model of trust is already
common in other areas of computing
that we don’t even think about any more.
Consider the following examples:
E Encryption: Each day, you rely on
encryption algorithms that only a select
number of mathematicians fully understand. It is universally accepted that the
https method to transport data protects
that data adequately. Every major banking and financial institution allows the
movement of money using the public
Internet as long as the transaction is secured by https. Your trust in https is not
established by your analysis or understanding of the underlying mathematics
that make it work. Instead, your trust in
https is established by the widespread
adoption and proven track record.
E Electronic banking: All of your financial
resources are accounted for on computers
that you have no idea of their location,
what operating system they use, or how
they are maintained. You can complete an
electronic funds transfer with confidence,
even though you probably have no idea
how many vendors, products, or networks
that transaction relies on.