We use our computers for just about everything. Whether you use a desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone, the way you store your information is important. Not only knowing how to store your information, but the availability to access it is also important. Storing information on your computer is relatively easy, but what happens when you start to run out of space? You could buy another hard drive and transfer your data, but that is not easy and takes time. You could burn your information on a cd or dvd to free up space. This is fairly easy and can free up space rather quickly. The only problem is the disk must be inserted to access it. It is really not that big of a problem, just inconvenient. Purchasing an external hard drive might be a better option. The drive would still need to be plugged in to access the files. The drive would need to be with you anytime you needed access to the files. Storing files on the cloud is really easy and makes access to all your files so much more convenient. Cloud computing has not only changed how you and I compute, but it has greatly enhanced computing for businesses. We will define cloud computing, look at the different services offered, and compare some advantages and disadvantages of cloud computing for businesses.
First, we need to find out what the cloud is. The cloud really is a metaphor for the internet. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary cloud computing is, “The practice of storing regularly used computer data on multiple servers that can be accessed through the Internet” (para. 1). A simpler way of saying it is how Eric Griffith (2013) with PC magazine defined it, “In the simplest terms, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer's hard drive” (para. 2). A home network is not using cloud computing. Griffith also stated, “Storing data on a home or office network does not count as utilizing the cloud (para. 4). To use the cloud, you must have a computer that can connect to the internet.
Here are some essential characteristics of cloud computing according to research by ISACA (2009):
On demand self-services: The cloud provider should have the ability to automatically provision computing capabilities, such as server and network storage, as needed without requiring human interaction with each service’s provider (p.6).
Broad network access: The cloud network should be accessible anywhere, by almost any device (p.6).
Resource pooling: The provider’s computing resources are pooled to serve multiple customers, with different physical and virtual resources dynamically assigned and reassigned according to demand (p.6).
Rapid elasticity: The cloud must be flexible to change with market and customer demands. Capabilities can be rapidly and elastically provisioned, in many cases automatically, to scale out quickly and rapidly released to scale in quickly. To the customer, the capabilities available for provisioning often appear to be unlimited and can be purchased in any quantity at any time (p.6).
Measured service: Cloud systems automatically control and optimize resource use by leveraging a metering capability. Resource usage can be monitored, controlled, and reported, providing transparency for both the provider and customer of the utilized service (p.6).
Now that we know what cloud computing is, let’s look at the three different services cloud computing offers. The first service is software-as-a-service (SaaS). It is the most widely used of the service models. According to authors Aliali and Yeh (2012) of the Journal of Information Systems, “SaaS allows users to run a variety of software applications on the Internet without having possession or managing applications” (p. 14). An example would be Microsoft Online or Gmail. According to PC magazine (2014), “Software is rented rather than purchased. Instead of buying software and paying for