Benefits And Risks Of Cloud Computing

Various aspects of Cloud Computing, its major characteristics, and a comparative analysis between different cloud computing platforms were discussed in the articles Major Characteristics of Cloud Computing and Comparative Analysis of Cloud Platforms respectively. In this article, we’ll learn about the plethora of benefits cloud computing provides as well as the risk aspects of its usage. Each of the pros and cons is described in detail.

Benefits

  • Cost Saving and Reduced Investment 
  • Increase in Scalability 
  • High Availability and Reliability 
  • Efficient Collaboration 
  • Automatic Updates 

Cost Saving and Reduced Investment

Cloud Computing has significant hands-on reducing the costs proportionally to the usage of the services and reducing the initial investment for the computing resources. Cloud computing often has a pay-as-you-go model which costs a fraction of the charges and limits the possible excessive cost. The automated cloud capacity is extremely elastic in terms of wisely allocating resources as per the growth or decrease in the customer demand without ever wasting the capacity nor ever having a crisis of insufficient resources. Moreover, the automated cloud capacity will always meet the demand of the customers without wasting the capacity thus providing cost savings. This cost reduction regarded as one of the primary benefits of cloud computing has driven business prospects for this technology adopted by uncountable business enterprises and personal userbases parallelly. Also, not having to invest a huge chuck on servers and computing resources in the initial phase supports the growth for companies that would stay as fixed assets that cannot be dispensed elsewhere for years. Reducing this initial investment is a significant benefit cloud computing has provided in the most accessible way.

Increase in Scalability

The increase in scalability is one of the important benefits of cloud computing. This can be easily illustrated with the ever-changing as elastic customer demand being met by cloud computing technology. The rapid elasticity and automatic triggers that are provided by cloud computing have enabled consumers on assuring that the cloud capacity exceeds the customer demands by a respectable margin in a way it neither leads to the occurrence of hefty billing at the end of the month nor ever slack to meet the consumer demand with resources supply.

When Instagram was bought by Facebook for $1B with only 13 people building and running the company, the world was shaken to witness the value that had been created by such a small group of people. If we dive deeper, the automated features of cloud computing have played a huge role to achieve that feat. Meeting the customer demand for the ever-changing resources need, and with the minimized wasting of capacity and also reducing the need for the expenditure of company resources to predict the customer demand, capacity planning for the business was a monumental feat. This has saved huge charges that would have incurred on the company for unused resources and instead benefitted the increased scalability which has been the driving force for businesses adopting cloud computing.

High Availability and Reliability

As we have discussed Business Continuity in the previous article, Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery, availability and reliability are critical for businesses. Henceforth, the increase in availability and reliability offered by cloud computing has driven its adoption by organizations. We know that availability and reliability can also be offered by the traditional approach to infrastructures. But with Cloud computing, comes in a package with all other characteristics of cloud computing as we’ve discussed in the last article, Major Characteristics of Cloud Computing. Moreover, cloud providers guarantee the associated availability and reliability of the services in the service level agreement (SLA). Companies can adapt and evolve to better respond to the changes of the customer demand as well as mitigate risk for precarious situations that may arise in the future through the availability and reliability provided by cloud computing.

Efficient Collaboration

Beyond the approach of traditional methods, with cloud computing and cloud environment businesses will have the ability to collaborate, communicate and share more easily. With the world becoming a global village with every passing year, the office has become an ideology. With numerous employees working from across the borders, when projects are being worked on employees, contractors and third parties will have the capability to share and access the files required through cloud computing. The possibility of efficient collaboration has become a reality today, a major contribution of cloud computing.

Automatic Updates

In legacy systems working on traditional infrastructures, companies were responsible to take care of the hardware as well as software. On contrary with cloud computing, the frequent updates in software aren’t a hassle anymore with the cloud computing service provider taking care of it easily. While installing an operating system, one only has to choose the image of the latest software and the system will do it all by itself. The tedious tasks of updating each and every new update have become history. This is one amazing advantage that cloud computing provides.

Risks and Challenges

  • Security Vulnerabilities
  • Minimized Governance Control 
  • Portability in between cloud providers 
  • Compliance and Legal Issues 

Security Vulnerabilities

The cases of Data Breaches, DDOS Attacks, Data Losses, Hijacking of accounts are front-line news today. While the cloud service utilizes resource pooling as discussed in the previous article, Major characteristics of cloud computing, there are chances the consumer is accessing it through shared cloud resources rather than the physically isolated resource. This can lead to huge security vulnerabilities with cloud computing if measures are not taken. In comparison to the traditional infrastructure which would have a direct connection to the on-premise infrastructure with the isolated resources, it is not the same with various functionalities of cloud computing. Thus, however, Cloud Computing can be adjusted to mitigate such risks with careless administration of resource allocation and usage, it can also become equally vulnerable. Thus, skilled manpower is of extreme importance while handling critical data and resources in cloud computing.

Minimized Governance Control

Cloud Computing comes with the risk of minimized operational control of governance. Since the cloud providers operate the infrastructures and external connections are essential for the communication between the customers and the provider, there is a lack of control. For an instance, a corrupt cloud provider might guarantee SLA but would fail to honor those agreements making the consumer ever more vulnerable and susceptible to risks without even their recognition. Also, the physical location for these servers and data centers might be located further away from the customer thus increasing the probabilities of high latency and bandwidth issues. Hence, it is consequential that only respected and trustworthy cloud providers be used to handle such important data.

Portability in between cloud providers

Each of the cloud providers is discrete and can be observed to be shielded from each other. This increases the chances of limited portability between the cloud providers. Since there is no such industry standard that would allow the diffuse of customer dependency, each of these cloud providers is more of a vault. Similar to the Photo Stream provided by Apple, anyone outside of the ecosystem isn’t that welcome to share their photos. Thus, though not impossible to move between these cloud providers, it becomes extremely difficult to switch in between then down the path. Some features might be provided by one provider and the other doesn’t and vice versa.

Compliance and Legal Issues

Compliance and Legal issues might by far be the most convoluted thing to solve. Hence, it could largely impact organizations and companies for usage of data centers located geographically different from the acquired consumers. Let us take an instance of GDPR as discussed in our previous article, Implementation of GDPR with SQL Server. We know the General Data Protection Regulation of the European Union is largely stricter than that of the United States so much so that, the data of the European Citizens cannot reside anywhere outside in Europe and to the specific locations they adjudicate fit. Hence, though there might be affordable data centers geographically, to meet these compliance and legal issues, the organizations and companies cannot use them for specific purposes. Thus, to adhere to all these issues, specialists would be required for consultancy making some benefits of cloud computing itself obsolete.

Conclusion

Thus, in this article, we learned about the Benefits and Risks of Cloud Computing. We learned about how cloud computing can reduce the investment required and save costs, increase scalability, provide high availability and reliability for business continuity, access efficient collaboration, and mitigate the requirement of automatic updates. Besides, we also learned about the risks and challenges of Cloud computing such as the possible security vulnerabilities, reduced control for governance, difficultly to switch over the cloud providers and the convoluted compliance and legal issues cloud computing faces.