Cloud FAQs

Here are the frequently asked questions we get asked on cloud computing



Cloud Computing FAQs

What is ‘the cloud’?

  • Cloud services can be explained simply as the means where IT and data can be delivered to you as a service wherever and whenever you need it, all of these services are hosted in the ‘cloud’ and delivered to you by a provider rather than being stored on your computer, this frees up resources and lowers the cost of your own infrastructure.

Is the cloud right for my business?

  • Cloud can potentially save businesses time and money however properly considering your needs and options is greatly advised to ensure added value. There are different types of Cloud services available, each of which have their own advantages and disadvantages enabling companies to decide on the most appropriate for their business needs. If the right option is not available to you right now however, do not discount it fully.  Cloud is constantly evolving and as such, the right option for you may be just around the corner.

What types of cloud are there?

  • Public cloud: Infrastructure is owned by a 3rd party organisation and made available to others over the Internet
  • Private cloud: Infrastructure is owned by a single organisation and made available to only that organisation.  
  • Virtual Private: Infrastructure is owned by a 3rd party organisation and made available to other organisations over a dedicated network.
  • Hybrid Cloud: a mixture of any or all of the previous services

How is cloud computing different from utility, on-demand and grid computing?

  • Cloud by its nature is "on-demand" and includes attributes which are associated with utility and grid models. Grid and Utility may be considered as implementations of cloud computing, rather than being different names for the same technology. Grid computing can be defined as the use of computer resources from multiple administrative domains to reach a common goal. It is sometimes considered a weaker form of cloud computing as there’s always some virtualization involved and it does not have many of the benefits that the cloud can provide.
  • Utility computing involves the renting of computing resources such as hardware, software and network bandwidth on an as-required, on-demand basis. Similar to a public utility such as gas or electric as such it can be thought of as more of a business model than specific technology.
  • However, with only one location and no virtualization of resources, it cannot be called cloud computing.  Utility computing can be implemented without cloud computing. Cloud computing does everything grid and utility computing do, and much more. With the cloud users are not restricted to specific networks, but can access all through the Internet. Also, virtualization of resources and the advantages that go with it such as scalability and reliability are much more pronounced in cloud computing.

Is cloud computing the same as software-as-a-service?

  • Some consider software-as-a-service to be one of several subsets of the cloud computing market. It could be said that SaaS started the whole push toward cloud computing by demonstrating that IT services could be made easily accessible via the Web.

What types of services are available via the cloud computing model?

  • Public cloud services can be broken down into three broad categories: software-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service, and platform-as-a-service.  
  • Software-as-a-Service is arguably the most well known and consists of software and associated data, centrally hosted on the web. SaaS is typically accessed by users using thin clients via a web browser.
  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service refers to remotely accessible server and storage capacity. This is the most basic service.
  • Platform-as-a-Service is a computing platform, typically including operating system, programming language execution environment, database, and web server, that lets companies build and deploy business systems on a hosted infrastructure. 

What types of service-level agreements are cloud vendors providing?

  • Most Cloud vendors guarantee at least 99% uptime, but pay attention to the ways in which they calculate this also how they enforce it as these can differ. Amazon EC2 for example promises to make "commercially reasonable efforts" to ensure 99.95% uptime. However, this is calculated on a yearly basis, so even if Amazon falls below that percentage for just a week or a month, there's no penalty or service credit.

How can I make sure my data is safe?

  • Before choosing a cloud vendor, do your due diligence by examining their service level agreement to fully understand what guarantees the vendor makes and what they do not include, also see if they have any customer testimonials etc. Customers should demand information about data security practices, fully check SLAs, and ensure the ability to encrypt data both in transit and at rest. 

How can I ensure the same level of performance if I switch to a cloud vendor?

  • There will always be some network latency with a cloud service, possibly making it slower than an application that runs in your local data center. However the performance hit related to latency is negligible. 

How do vendors charge for these services?

  • This is largely dependent on the provider and it is advisable to shop around. However, SaaS vendors have for a long time, sold software on a pay-as-you-go, as-needed basis, which prevents the kind of lock-in inherent in long-term licensing deals for on-premises software. 

What types of applications can run in the cloud?

  • Technically, any application can be run in the cloud. This doesn't always mean it's necessarily a good idea. E.g, running a desktop disk defragmentation or systems analysis tool in the cloud would be useless, the application is better off on the desktop and dedicated to the system with little to no latency. Something to also take into consideration is that regulatory and compliance concerns prevent enterprises from putting certain applications in the cloud, particularly those involving sensitive customer data. 

Can applications move from one cloud to another?

  • Although not necessarily simple, the answer is yes.  Services such as Amazons GoGrid are available to move applications from one cloud platform to another and from internal data centers to the cloud. Cloud vendors will however have to adopt standards-based technologies in order to ensure data and apps operate sucessfully, according to several industry groups. The ultimate goal would be the ability to move applications from one cloud to another without the need  to rewrite them. 

How does traditional software licensing apply to the cloud?

  • Software licensing differs from vendor to vendor when applied to a cloud model, especially when looking at deployments on a public or virtual private cloud infrastructure. Most software vendors relate licensing to physical hardware and in some cases this hardware must be owned by the company licensing the software. Microsoft allows cloud vendors to “rent” software that is intended for cloud users, however companies current licences are normally not transferable to a cloud based system. It is important to check with both the software vendors and cloud providers before undertaking a cloud project.