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:
- Consideration of disaster recovery policies
- Security of data
- Getting a service/software up and running quickly
- Performance considerations
1. 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. By “disaster” this could mean, for example, a fire that destroyed computer equipment, a cybersecurity incident or a major network failure.
The disaster recovery policy might include things like taking regular backups, having reserve equipment to replace anything that fails or is damaged, or even having an alternative site to switch business operation to.
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.
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
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
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.
Try and find an example of some notable leaks that have occured and how they could’ve been prevented.
Compatability is about whether the cloud service you use can work with the hardware, software and data that you are currently using. You need to be sure that the cloud service is compatible with your systems.
Usually you can access cloud services via your web browser. Accessing the service this way will be platform independent. However, the interface may not be optimised for your type of device, such as if accessing on a small mobile screen. It might also not be compatible with the accessibility devices you’re using if you have an individual need, such as a visual impairment.
Additionally, the apps provided by the cloud provider (such as those to allow you to sync data) may not be available for the operating system you use. This would seriously limit the benefits of using the cloud service.
You also need to make sure that it can load the file types that all your existing data is stored in. If the cloud service isn’t compatible with the file types you have been using it may be impossible to load any of your historical data.
Research into Microsoft OneDrive. Do they have software that allows you to sync your files with an iPhone, or a Linux PC?
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
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
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
In addition, if you have any issues while using the system, paid cloud service providers will usually offer premium support to help you learn the software and correct any teething issues you initially are facing.
Google Cloud has its own migration centre, check it out here: https://cloud.google.com/solutions/migration-center/
6. Performance Considerations
Due to cloud storage and computing performing storage and processing on remote servers, there can be issues where things take longer to perform than you would normally expect. For example, when saving a file you will need to wait for that file to upload to the cloud server.
There are several performance considerations that must be thought about when choosing a cloud technology for business:
- The responsiveness to the user – when accessing the cloud services website you would normally expect for it to load in a few seconds so you can quickly access your files and data. Additionally, when using cloud software you would not want for there to be a long lag time between pressing an input (such as typing a letter) and the output to be displayed on screen.
- The complexity of the task – Complex tasks will require far greater processing than simpler ones and so can take too long to perform by cloud services. The same is said if you are running multiple tasks at once. For example, while cloud-based Office software has been successful for some time, cloud-based gaming services, like Google Stadia, continue to struggle as video games are too complex to quickly perform via the cloud given current internet speeds.
- Available devices & communication technology – Your local device will generally have little impact on the running of cloud services, as the cloud servers
performthe workload. However, the speed of your connection will often have a major impact on performance. If you have a connection of less than 5Mbps then uploading & downloading of files to a cloud server could be too slow, compared to if you had a 50Mbps connection.
Generally, the cloud is quite fast, reliable and cost-effective. Try and find some specific examples of things that could counter this narrative.
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).