In November of 2009 Microsoft added to the development with the introduction of the Windows Azure Beta. The product is a cloud based OS that allows developers to write programs that run on servers in Microsoft’s data centers. Following suit of the AWS model, Azure is a major development as it marks a small but evident shift of the largest software company into the cloud computing industry.
The most controversial drawbacks of the cloud computing era remains that of the jurisdiction and maintenance of privacy. Many data privacy laws differ from country to country, it is a misconception that the cloud reaches everyone everywhere. The technology has advanced we are just waiting for regulation to catch up. This is a major drawback for larger international systems that cross-regulatory boundaries and are finding it hard to access and maintain data and information accordingly.
With new applications and services comes a transition period as is becoming evident with the transition to the cloud. Existing enterprise systems must be phased along with the specialists that maintain the systems. Accordingly, a new phase of transition and integration must take place to enable the cloud platforms to succeed. However much the new system may save it may cause temporary inconsistencies and with that increased headaches.
Although clouds are leading to more efficient and effective ways to access applications and storage, many of them are leading to increased information silos. That is, situations where data is stored in its own universe where it typically does not interact with other systems. As this process of creating and placing single applications on individualized servers continues it will increase the workload of enterprise systems down the road.
As revolutionary as cloud storage is it still susceptible data problems. One of which is transfer speed, as the quantity of data increases into ranges of Terabytes it still remains faster to take alternative methods of action. Treb Ryan, CEO of Opsorce stated “The fastest way to transfer 3 TB to 5 TB of data is still FedEx”.
A Major drawback of cloud computing is vender lock-in. Reminiscent of the Operating system wars, cloud venders do not only provide a service they assign you a platform to utilize in order to build apps. Many platforms use different coding languages and require their own protocols causing the migration between providers very difficult. As a result vendors create artificial loyalty or a sense being ‘locked-in’ to a single provider.
Cloud computing offers 3 main levels including application, platform, and infrastructure levels. The application level is furnished by a company offering a service (SaaS) regardless of how where and by whom the compute cycles and storage are provided. The platform level of cloud computing is utilized by developers who write code and upload it to the cloud to enable their apps to run.
Finally, the infrastructure level of the cloud is typically the most general level as it is geared towards developers and system administrators attempting to compute sore and query resources with the fewest limitations.
Five major advantages that cloud computing offers are reduced costs, increased storage, highly automated, increased flexibility and mobility. Cloud computing allows for incremental payments and pay-per-use policies saving organizations money. Moreover the cloud allows for increased storage by accessing remote systems. Additionally it allows for the automation of patches and updates eliminating the need to constantly update software. Finally increased flexibility and mobility, individuals can access data wherever and whenever they want.
The firm NetCentric a technology firm attempted to trademark the term “cloud computing” in 1997. Their attempt included filing for Patent serial number 75291765 and they succeeded in owning the trademark until 1999 when they did not apply for an extension on the patent. A few years later Dell attempted to lay claim to the term and almost succeeded but the US patent office later withdrew their proposal.
Another issue is that of intellectual property and the security of trade secrets. The solution to this is encryption. Many vendors encrypt data so that external parties may not access the information. However individuals may take additional precautions by encrypting it before uploading. Another issue where reading the terms of a contract may be of benefit is third party access. Some vendors have clauses where select parties may be granted access to the information stored. However this must be disclosed in a vendor agreement.