Kaynak: Isaca Journal, Volume 6, Sailesh Gadia
What Is Cloud Computing?
In its simplest form, cloud computing is performing computing tasks via a network connection while remaining isolated from the complex computing hardware and networking infrastructure that supports it. Cloud computing relies on virtualization technology to offer each subscriber one or more individual virtual instances. Due to virtualization technology, each physical server can host several virtual servers.
Benefits and Current Uses of Cloud Computing
Imagine not having to pay up-front for expensive real estate, electricity, cooling equipment and physical security. Most cloud service providers charge customers either on the subscription model or the utility model—one pays for what one uses. If the site traffic reduces, redundant cloud servers (instances) can be shut down.
Here are some of the other benefits of cloud computing:
Scalable—Cloud vendors have excess capacity to serve needs of individuals or organizations
Speed of execution—A cloud computing service could be up and running in a few hours
Cost transparency—It is easier to allocate cloud computing cost since most cloud service providers bill for each instance. This leads to better accountability.
Outsourcing competencies that are not core to the business—Companies are not required to attract and retain human resources with critical IT infrastructure management skills.
Despite the tremendous potential benefits of cloud computing, there are several risks associated with it. The key concerns are related to loss of control, security, integrity, privacy and availability.
The key security and privacy concerns regarding cloud computing are:
– User administration to cloud host communication occurs over the Internet. Unless the cloud user sets up a secure or an encrypted line, the communication happens over the Internet in clear text with associated security risks.
– Cloud users commonly use browsers for administration of cloud instances. The older versions of popular browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari, continue to have known security vulnerabilities and could lead to security issues.
– Organizations’ trusted boundaries get extended to the cloud service provider, where rogue users might be waiting to take advantage of the trust relationship.
– Security models and standards are still emerging. This complicates and compounds security threats. For example, who is responsible for security when a security breach happens?
– The processor used to provide a virtual machine for cloud computing can affect the isolation/security between virtual machines. Virtual machine root kits are a viable and likely threat
– The database administrator may unintentionally leave data on disk devices provided by the cloud service provider.
– The cloud service provider’s employees might have access to sensitive data stored on their servers.
Cloud computing will continue to have an increasing impact on information technology for individuals as well as organizations. For users who want to fully adopt this emerging technology, the journey remains uncharted. Outsourcing presents some challenges in itself and cloud computing further complicates those challenges. It is imperative that cloud computing users carefully consider the risks discussed here before making a decision to use cloud computing. If risks related to the adoption of cloud computing are properly evaluated and adequately mitigated, the ability to offer new products and services leveraging cloud computing could be a competitive differentiator. When the Internet first emerged, it raised a lot of concerns similar to those now being raised about cloud computing, but with adequate controls, it has proven to be a successful technology. The Internet raised the bar for the brick-and-mortar business model. Similarly, the emergence of cloud computing has posed a challenge about the need to have everything in a brick-and-mortar data center. A lot is happening in the cloud today, and there is a lot more to come. To sum it up, the cloud does matter.