Term Paper: Cloud Computing and Data Security

Pages: 18 (5196 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 15  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Education - Computers  ·  Buy This Paper

Cloud Computing and Data Security

Cloud computing service providers have made their systems so inexpensive to use and easy to access, that there is little reason that companies should not be exploring this option for providing data and services. -- Roger Smith, 2009a

Businesses utilize Information Technology (IT) such as computer hardware and software to run their operations. Even small companies such as a local gift shop have at least one computer that runs accounting or point of service applications. In today's economy, it is not uncommon to find businesses in virtually every industry utilizing complex IT hardware and software. There are many examples of IT business applications and hardware. Salesmen use customer relationship management systems to manage interactions with their customers. They may also use applications that identify sales leads to help generate potential new sources of revenue. All of these activities are done with a computer or mobile device. Logistics departments utilize software, which helps match open orders ready for shipment with the cheapest available carrier automatically. Plant managers monitor and tweak their production lines using software specifically designed for manufacturing. Analysts uncover important trends and business insights through business intelligence applications, which pull information from company databases stored on locally owned and maintained servers (Slabeva 2010, 47).

Information technology is vital in helping businesses reduce costs and generate more revenue. In today's highly competitive and increasingly globalized economy, IT hardware and software make it possible to reduce costs. This cost reduction is obtained through automating and increasing the efficiency of tasks, including customer billing and product development. Businesses using IT solutions can increase revenues through business analysis and customer service applications. These businesses may also use marketing options associated with Web applications to increase revenue. In many cases, in a given industry, the company with the best IT hardware and software has the advantage over their competitors in efficiency and opportunities for revenue. They may have access to technology that their competitors do not, or they may utilize the technology that they and their competitors both have more effectively to create the advantage (Armbrust et al. 2009, 14).

Harnessing the potential benefits that can be achieved through the informed and meaningful use of information technology is now important for all businesses. However, it can be expensive if significant hardware is required, and this can be an obstacle for smaller companies (Talbert 2011). For example, a large and small shipping company may want to invest in third party sales forecasting software. The software may require investment in expensive software volume licenses, new servers/computers, or IT personnel (Buyya, Yeo & Venugopal 2008, 1). For the large company, finding the money for this is less of a problem than it is for the smaller company. They may even have additional server space, computers, and IT resources already available to handle the implementation of the new software. The smaller company may not have money available to invest in the software, computers, servers, and IT resources necessary to successfully implement the forecasting software (Slabeva 2010, 50).

Currently, the software and servers a business implements must exist close to its client computers to maximize the efficiency of application execution (Armbrust et al., 2009). This paradigm is what makes investment in information technology expensive for businesses. All of the software on the client machine in an organization must be installed and updated individually, requiring investment in IT human resources to carry out these responsibilities (Buyya, Yeo & Venugopal 2008, 1). In addition, departments using intricate software may need to invest in high-performance, high-cost computers in order for the software to run properly. Moreover, as this software improves and grows more complex over time, investment in new hardware to replace old, outdated computers may be necessary. Furthermore, business data must be stored on physical servers that require heavy investment to purchase and maintain (Armbrust et al. 2009, 3).

The current information technology paradigm used by most businesses today involves having all hardware and software and data storage close to the place of business. While this paradigm is currently pervasive, it is predicted that in the not-so-distant future, businesses will rapidly shift to the cloud computing. Cloud computing can be understood as a model of operations in which computing is viewed as a service instead of a product. In this paradigm information, software, and data storage are provided to computers and other technology devices as a service. This can be conceptualized as similar to the way electricity is provided to a number of clients over a grid that can be used in many different ways (Armbrust et al. 2009, 12). These services are most commonly provided over the Internet. In the cloud computing model, software and hardware exist as services shared by many companies. Software in the cloud can be accessed by companies through lightweight front-end applications such as a simple web browser, and the majority of the processing of these applications occurs on the third party providers' machines. All of this is predicted to yield reduced costs for businesses through increased technology upward and downward scalability options, cheaper client hardware, and reduced IT human capital cost. In addition, the cloud computing model provides for more rapid updating of technology for businesses. It also increases software availability on various operating systems and mobile devices (Harding 2011, 38, 42-44).

As cloud computing matures, businesses are more likely to invest in cloud-based technologies such as remote data storage, because of the significant cost reductions and technology advantages that are associated with storing data on remote servers operated by third parties (Armbrust et al. 2009, 12). Many companies, though, are wary of various issues that are inherent in cloud computing such as data security, auditability, and availability. Notwithstanding these potential constraints and threats, it is the thesis of this paper that the uploading and downloading of information into the cloud are currently well protected and safe from data abuse provided certain steps are followed. Furthermore, data in the cloud is also likely to be safe, and these types of concerns should not serve as a deterrent for businesses to use the cloud in this manner. Additional research needs to be done on the safety level of data storage in the cloud. This paper puts forth suggestions for possible research in this area as discussed further in the literature review below.

Literature Review

Background and Overview

As the inexorable march towards pervasive computing continues, computers and wireless devices are becoming smaller and the number of online services that are available continues to proliferate. This shift from on-site computing to Web-based computing is cited by Smith who reports, "Pioneers like Google offer a future driven by online services in which the average consumer needs a less powerful personal computer, not a more powerful one. They suggest that all of the computational, storage, and net working power that you need will reside in 'the cloud'" (2009b, 9). Although there is no universally recognized definition for the term "cloud computing" (Brown 2011, 2), some salient examples from the peer-reviewed literature include the following:

1. "Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of computing resources, including servers, data storage and applications and services" (Brown 2011, 2).

2. "In essence, [cloud computing] is a means of renting computers, storage and network capacity on an hourly basis from some company that already has these resources in its own data center and can make them available to you and your customers via the Internet" (Smith 2009a, 66).

3. "Cloud computing is an approach that places application processing and storage in network-based data centers, rather than in end-user devices such as personal computers" (Werbach 2011, 1762).

4. "The easiest way to think about cloud computing is as doing business on the Web, therefore eliminating the need for in-house technology infrastructure -- servers and software to purchase, run and maintain. Unlike traditional software, which is distributed and deployed on-premise, cloud applications are designed for Web deployment. They are multitenant (delivered by one vendor to many customers), and users share processing power and space that is managed by the vendor" (Defelice 2010, 50).

5. "Cloud computing is maintaining data, applications and programs on a remote server that can be accessed through many devices, such as desktop computers, netbooks or smartphones" (Salow, Meier & Goodwin 2011, 43).

6. "A cloud computing delivery method is Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices on demand" (Mauro 2010, 24).

Put more simply, Gozzi provides a more straightforward definition of cloud computing: "Cloud computing involves sending your computing tasks away from your computer, to a cloud of computers that will send back results. Or perhaps the cloud will house applications, so you do not need to have them on your computer" (2010, 119). Irrespective of the precise definition used, it is apparent that the growth and interest in cloud computing has been significant. One industry observer suggests that, "It is pretty much a given that the use of… [END OF PREVIEW]

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