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Cloud Services: Answering the real world questions

Given the current IT scenario which changes by hour, and where change is the need of the hour we have to deliver more with minimum resources. In other words we need to “DO MORE WITH LESS”; whoa these are not my words :-). These were uttered by Steve Ballmer of Microsoft and just got embedded in my mind. Today everything is being service-oriented and to add to that an economy recovering from a recession has added more fuel in enterprises turning towards Service Offerings.

Proliferation of the Internet has given the opportunity to provide real-time access to consumer and business products, software and solutions, without the requirement that an end user personally own the underlying resource. Cloud services are accessed over the Internet via user-friendly web interfaces; they are location independent and do not drill a hole in your pockets 🙂

Why all the hype around cloud computing? Just two words: cheaper & faster. The pay-as-you-go benefits are so compelling that today many have turned towards cloud offerings or are planning towards the same. Given this fact what are the pros & cons, what type of cloud suits me and is the service interoperable with what we use today are some of the intriguing real-world questions which should surface in our minds whilst choosing a cloud offering. I have tried to answer these three questions below i.e.

  1. Security
  2. Public v/s Private
  3. Interoperability

Security is a key area of concern for Cloud Services

The key steps to mitigate security concern for cloud services will involve the following

  1. Move non-sensitive data and preferably on a trial basis on the cloud for e.g. Digital content, streaming media, video, music, etc.
  2. Handle the security/encryption at your end instead of leaving it for the service provider
  3. More secure registration process for the cloud to prevent misuse/spamming
  4. Better Auditing and good control should be there on the data hosted on the cloud.
  5. Proper paperwork/agreements need to be put in place in case of highly sensitive data i.e. Terms and Conditions, SLA’s and NOC’s etc
  6. Backup the data regularly at your end instead of relying on the service provider. Though there should be provision of backing up data from the service provider.
  7. Get Information on the infrastructure of the service provider where the data is to be hosted.
  8. Ensure Data Confidentiality and Data isolation for highly sensitive data

Public or Private Cloud: What works best?

Public and private clouds both have their own place considering the current economic scenario for that matter. Even if we ignore the financial fact then to lot remains to choose between the private and the public cloud. Both work best for different scenarios. Following are the key differences to make a choice between the two.

Public Cloud:

  • For Less sensitive data
  • Low cost
  • Less amount of data to store
  • Store data with Lower Shelf life
  • Less/Compromised security
  • No full control over data or infrastructure
  • No Data Isolation
  • No Maintenance costs

Private Cloud:

  • For sensitive and critical data
  • Costlier than public cloud but can be managed
  • Huge data to store
  • Store data with higher shelf life
  • More secure
  • Total control over data as well as infrastructure
  • Data Isolation
  • Maintenance costs

Interoperability: Cloud Services

The basic idea of a cloud platform to be interoperable is to have ability to use various languages, tools to design, develop, debug and deploy applications to the cloud infrastructure standards data access, identity management, deployment packages, ability to seamlessly access services hosted on other clouds (private to public cloud and public cloud to another public cloud)

For e.g. Microsoft Azure allows using multiples languages (.NET, PHP, Ruby, Python or Java) and various development tools (Visual Studio or Eclipse) to build applications which run on Windows Azure and/or consume any of the Windows Azure platform offerings from any other cloud or on premise platform. Windows Azure platform also supports multiple Internet protocols including HTTP, XML, SOAP and REST.

Categories: cloud computing
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