Cloud computing is a growing trend in information technology as organizations look for ways to save money and add flexibility to their operations. Cloud computing, while still an evolving service, provides on-demand network access to a shared pool of computing resources such as networks, servers, storage and applications. The pooling of resources allows the provider to rapidly scale to meet changing customer demands. The service is typically provided through a large data center. Cloud computing can be divided into three types: Software as Service, Platform as Service, and Infrastructure as Service.
- Software as a Service (SaaS): Provides ready for use web-based applications such as email that are maintained centrally by a provider (e.g., Gmail, Salesforce.com).
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): Provides programming languages and tools that can be used by application developers to create and deploy applications on the web.
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Provides computing resources, such as virtualized servers and storage, whose usage is rented from a provider (e.g., Amazon EC2, Windows Azure).
In addition, cloud computing can be private, available for a single organization/group of users, open to the public, or some combination of these models.1
The growth in cloud computing is fueled by economies of scale. Cloud computing allows users to pay for what they need, when they need it.
There are security and privacy concerns that must be considered before moving to cloud computing, including the following:
Organizations should fully research the risks and benefits of cloud computing before moving to that environment. It is critical that security requirements are addressed in contractual agreements in advance. In addition, there are steps organizations should take when using cloud computing: