Implications of Cloud Technologies

Cloud technologies have brought huge benefits to organisations but choosing the right ones can be difficult. Many factors will have to be contemplated to decide what kind of cloud service that will work best for a company.

This lesson, we’ll learn about the implications of cloud technologies, including:

  1. Consideration of disaster recovery policies
  2. Security of data
  3. Compatibility
  4. Maintenance
  5. Getting a service/software up and running quickly
  6. Performance considerations
Media Attachments: Presentation

1. Disaster Recovery Policies

Disaster Recovery Policies

A disaster recovery policy is a plan that a business puts in place to limit the damage caused when a disaster occurs. For example, having backups of data ready and available if data is lost.

Cloud services support a business’ disaster recovery policy as their data is stored on the cloud, in a remote location from the business and therefore somewhat protected from damage. They also will almost all provide automatic backup services to the data they store for you, and the ability to sync your local data to the cloud to ensure you always have up-to-date backups to recover with.

Cloud providers, themselves, will have their own disaster recovery policies, such as having multiple backup servers so that if one of their systems suffers damage, there will be other systems to fall back on so you’ll always be secure.

Further Thought

Try and see if you can find an example of a disaster recovery policy of a company that doesn’t use cloud services and one that does, comparing the two.

2. Security of Data

Security of Data

Organisations have a legal & ethical responsibility to ensure the data they store is kept secure. So, when storing on the cloud we need to be sure that this will not leave our data vulnerable to harm.

There have been notable leaks from data stored on the cloud in recent years, but this has lead to these cloud service providers to put many measures in place to protect data, such as:

  • Multi-factor authentication
  • System & network monitoring
  • Regular secure backups
  • Physical access security, like locks
  • Encryption of personal data.

It’s also important to consider where the data is being stored. Many cloud service providers will be based in countries outside of the UK. Data protection legislation doesn’t allow personal data to be transferred outside of the EU unless the country has strong data protection legislation.

You might find you’re storing your data in a country that doesn’t have good data protection laws and are therefore breaking the Data Protection Act.

Further Thought

Try and find an example of some notable leaks that have occured and how they could’ve been prevented.

3. Compatibility

Compatibility

When you choose a cloud service, you want it to be compatible with the devices that you use, and with the existing data you are trying to use with the cloud service.

Usually, cloud services can be accessed through a browser, which will mean platform independence. However, apps provided by cloud services, such as those to set up syncing of files, may not be available on all platforms.

Further Thought

Research into Microsoft OneDrive. Do they have software that allows you to sync your files with an iPhone, or a Linux PC?

4. Maintenance

Maintenance

Cloud services can hugely reduce the workload within a business for maintaining the software. It is the responsibility of the service providers to maintain this software, and so you won’t need to run your updates yourself.

Unfortunately, downtime will still have to occur for larger updates (like updating the software the cloud service is running on). Also, downtime can happen in the event of cyber-attacks and network disruptions. When any of the above happens, the servers will have to go down so nobody can access the service.

If downtime is scheduled, then it may be carried out in the hours where most customers aren’t accessing the service anyway. However, this may be more of an issue if the customer base is global due to multiple time zones across the world.

Of course, one of the biggest benefits of using a cloud service is the fact that maintenance is performed by the cloud service provider and not yourself. This means you’ll have access to much more specialised staff expertise for the maintenance of your systems.

Further Thought

A Denial-of-Service attack is a type of cyber attack designed to cause downtime in web services. Research some examples of DOS attacks that have occurred in recent years.

5. Getting Up & Running Quickly

Getting Up & Running Quickly

Cloud services are designed to be implemented very quickly – especially when compared to setting up a local server. We won’t need to purchase and configure the physical hardware and software, this is handled by the service providers specialist staff.

It’s the case that many cloud services offer ways to automatically move a business’ own applications and storage to the cloud, and configure automatic syncing between local and cloud storage. This will save an organisation a lot of time.

Further Thought

Google Cloud has its own migration centre, check it out here: https://cloud.google.com/solutions/migration-center/

6. Performance Considerations

Performance Considerations

There are several performance considerations that must be thought about when choosing to use a cloud technology for business:

  • The responsiveness to the user – For example, there could be lag between when you press a key and a letter appearing in the cloud software, or slow upload/download time when syncing files.
  • The complexity of the task – Arguably, the more complex the task you want to perform, the more performance will suffer. The same is said if you are running multiple tasks at once.
  • Available devices & communication technology – Your local device will generally have little impact on the running of cloud services, as the cloud servers perform the workload. However, the speed of your connection will often have a major impact on performance.

Further Thought

Generally, the cloud is quite fast, reliable and cost-effective. Try and find some specific examples of things that could counter this narrative.

Lesson Summary

So to summarise what we’ve learnt in this lesson:

  • Cloud services support an organisations disaster recovery policy by providing regular, remotely stored backups.
  • Security of data is a concern as you need to be sure data is stored in a country with good data protection legislation and that the company has good security procedures.
  • There may also be issues of compatibility with an organisation’s devices, though this is less likely as these systems are mostly platform independent.
  • Cloud services usually lighten the maintenance workload by handling software updates & providing specialist staff expertise. There may be downtime at times though due to running updates & cyber attacks.
  • Cloud services are usually very easy to implement, automating much of the configuration and providing migration services to get set up quicker.
  • Performance of cloud services can be affected by things like the responsiveness to the user (e.g. lag when typing), the complexity of the task performed (e.g. graphical tasks) and the devices use and communication technologies (e.g. a slow internet connection).