With the 7th International Cloud Expo being held in America this November and the announcement that New York City and Microsoft are teaming up to provide the city’s 100,000 employees with access to cloud services, it is evident that cloud computing is now at the forefront of computing technology and a current buzzword in the field.
Cloud computing refers to anything that involves delivering hosted services over the internet and encompasses any subscription-based or pay-by-use service that, in real time, extends IT’s existing capabilities.
A clear benefit of this provision is the inevitable reduced cost incurred by any organisation. The provision is not owned, with any resources being consumed as a service. The company only pays for what is used as a utility, therefore avoiding capital expenditure. According to New York City’s Mayor, “Through our partnership with Microsoft, we’ve found ways to offer our employees Microsoft’s newest computing tools while reducing costs to taxpayers.
By capitalizing on the city’s buying power, consolidating dozens of separate city agency license agreements into a single one, and paying for software based on use, we’ll save $50 million over the next five years.”
Until now, New York City’s agencies each purchased software individually, comprising more than 40 separate license agreements and even more maintenance and support contracts. With the new cloud agreement, all of the city’s software and services will be under one unified agreement, saving money and eliminating confusion.
Organisations also benefit from increased storage capacity as compared with that available on private computer systems. With a phenomenal growth in data quantities, companies are under pressure to store and protect not only new data, but older existing data that is kept ‘just-in-case’ to protect against any future difficulties. With this storage requirement comes additional costs associated with the greater need to manage and protect the data. Cloud computing provides a cost-effective solution for this ongoing problem.
With the continued advances in technology and ever changing needs of organisations, cloud services ensure that the most up-to-date software is available to companies. Similarly, the evolving nature of such provision ensures that companies are offered greater flexibility in how they access services and the many different combinations of services that may be required.
Possibly the most significant benefit arising from this shift in technology is the ability to access information from anywhere, resulting in greater mobility for employees. In the case of New York particularly, this benefit is exemplified by the fact that many of the city’s workers are not office-based and so will have improved access to services with resulting improvements in communication between agencies.
Despite the significant benefits associated with the cloud computing revolution, there is also concern surrounding cloud computing and its attendant security risks. The main concerns about cloud computing are security and privacy as data inside the ‘cloud’ is outside a company’s firewall and that brings with it an intrinsic threat of risk. With an increase in hacking attempts, companies need to implement stringent security measures such as proven cryptographic methods to authenticate users.
This security risk extends beyond data storage to web development. It is evident that an unsecure server is bad for search engine optimisation and for a company’s website. As identified by an SEO London company, a lack of security in the cloud can result in the loss of search engine rankings.
As part of the ever growing and evolving IT industry, we must be open to advances in technology even if we maintain some reservations about potential security issues or associated concerns. A spokesperson from a London web design company recognises the potential for cloud computing and the advances in technology in our every day lives. “As web designers we frequently find ourselves caught up in the everyday workings of the internet”. Cloud computing may very well be the new technology to drastically change the web design market but ultimately only time will tell.