Cloud Computing is the new buzz phrase and this technology is steadily gaining popularity in business. It’s on its way to becoming a household term and very soon we may see widespread applications of Cloud Computing. Smartphone applications use cloud computing technology to let you store and access data that normally won’t fit on your handheld device. Research institutions use cloud computing for massive data and information storage. Video game companies too are experimenting of utilizing the infrastructure of cloud computing so that you can access games at a lower investment and cost. Though cloud computing is on its way of becoming a huge success and there is lot of business value in cloud computing, still there are reservations about using this technology. More research and developments are required to do away with the disadvantages and drawbacks of Cloud Computing so that it can be used extensively in business and industry.
What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud Computing is a type of computing or practice of using a network of shared remote servers and computing resources hosted on the Internet. These resources are used instead of the hard drives of local servers or personal computers to store, manage, and process data. The cloud is just a metaphor for the Internet and Cloud computing is a great way of offloading your desktop applications to the Internet. Cloud computing systems generally have a front end, the area which you as a user see and use, and a back end, which stores your data and handles the applications and software you need. In simple words, Cloud computing can be compared to the model of timesharing. A timesharing computer system connects multiple users to a single, central computer processor and all the computing or storage operations are handled by the central machine. Introduction to Cloud Computing explains what it is, how it works, and how to make it work for you.
Disadvantages of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing works out perfectly well for certain corporations. It may save costs of buying costly hardware and computers with enhanced memory and processing speed, and also reduce investment on general utility software and applications. Cloud infrastructure also helps clients to be able to access their applications and data from anywhere at any time. They can access the cloud computing system using any computer linked to the Internet. Cloud computing releases data and applications from being confined to the hard drive of one user’s computer or to the company’s internal network.
Though Cloud computing may have several benefits of saving time and money for businesses, but like any other technology it has its share of disadvantages. So it’s important to know the shortcomings and potential problems before you decide to replace your IT infrastructure and opt for the virtual facilities on the internet or cloud.
Disadvantages of Cloud Computing:
- Possible downtime without internet connection: Cloud computing is totally dependent on internet connection. When the internet connection or network is down, cloud services are down as well. If the connection runs slow, then your services will also run slow and the output of your enterprise gets affected. Your entire system or operations may become idle if you do not have the necessary backup or alternative internet connection. Even if cloud computing providers take precautions to ensure that the network has a great uptime, the risk always remains. While choosing a Cloud Computing service provider ensure they are reputed, dependable, and proven in their services. Read their reviews and try them out on a trial basis before you are comfortable with their services and support.
- Security and privacy issues: Do you compromise the safety of your data with Cloud Computing? Yes, perhaps to some extent as Cloud computing means Internet computing. So you should use or store only that data that you are comfortable having on the Internet. Although security in the cloud is generally good and reliable, established cloud computing vendors ensure they have the latest, most sophisticated data security systems as data security is always a big concern for businesses. But there are still serious security concerns that hackers can attack and breach the system. As the servers are interconnected in the cloud, a hacker can breach one system and then make way into other linked systems.Privacy is another area of concern. If a user can log in from any location to access data and applications, it’s possible the user’s privacy could be compromised. . One way Cloud computing companies protect their clients’ privacy is to use authentication techniques such as user names and passwords. They also use an authorization format, where each user can access only the data and applications relevant to his or her job.
- Cost: Analyzing cost and savings before implementing Cloud computing can be a tricky part. For a small business enterprise a cloud computing application may appear to be a lot cheaper than a particular software solution installed and run in-house. On the other hand, it may appear expensive to set up cloud computing on a small-scale basis. You need to check if the cloud application has all the features that you intended to have in the original software and if not, are the missing features important to you. Also if you have complex or industry-specific information technology needs, you may be better off with custom-designed software as general cloud based application software may not suffice your needs. It is also important to analyze the plan and fee structure of the cloud computing services you are using. Many cloud computer vendors present themselves as utility-based providers, claiming that you’re charged only for what you use, but that may not be entirely true. Also initially when a business first starts using the cloud computing services, it may appear that there are cost savings. For example, SaaS (Software as a Service) applications will have lower total cost of ownership for the first two years because SaaS applications do not require large capital investment for licenses or for infrastructure support. But after the initial two years, the on-premise option can be a better cost saving option from an accounting perspective as the capital assets would depreciate. So you need to look closely at the pricing plans and details for each application to be sure that you’re saving money and have to try various offerings until you find the right one.
- No Hard Drive: Some customers may find it cheaper to do away with hard drives as that can reduce costs. But those who use programs that need an attached hard drive, using cloud computing may be quite inconvenient.
- Data Ownership: Data ownership can be a major hurdle in cloud computing, especially if you have a lot of data to handle. As of yet there is no clarity about the ownership of data. There may not be an exact answer to a basic question of who owns the data maintained by a cloud storage service, whether it is the uploader or the storage provider of data. As a result, cloud providers create their own terms and conditions, which at times may seem arbitrary. Therefore, reading and understanding the terms and conditions are necessary when you deal with cloud computing and cloud hosting. Also be aware that there may be certain restrictions on uploading certain type of data.
- Inflexibility: While choosing a cloud computing vendor, be careful that the terms and conditions don’t lock you into using their proprietary applications or formats. There may be conditions, such that you cannot insert a document created in another application, which may be detrimental to your business. Also ensure that you can add and subtract cloud computing users as necessary as your business grows or contracts.
- Lack of support: Compared with most packaged or custom-built software, cloud-based services always do not have the best customer care support system. It may be difficult to get them on the phone or by e-mail, and they often don’t provide illustrated user manuals. Instead, they ask their customers to rely on FAQ pages and online community support, which may not be always very translucent.
- Integrating Peripherals and Latency: You may face difficulties while connecting wireless devices, especially when it comes to personal devices such as printers to the cloud network. There may be issues of software incompatibilities as most devices are still designed to connect specifically to a PC. There may be issues of latency or time lag while connecting your system to the remote cloud servers. This happens if the cloud servers are handling too much traffic. So you need to ensure the provider has the right hardware or can update and increase the server capabilities as per requirement.
Working off your hard drive is how the computer industry functioned for decades and some argue it is superior to cloud computing. But if you want to try cloud computing, it may be a good idea to start slowly, and replace one or two of your business applications to see if this option works for you. The Cloud and You course will guide you on how to exploit the benefits and avoid the pitfalls of cloud computing. You can dig further and discover the details and technologies required to build infrastructure of virtual networks and cloud services.