Imagine you just came back from a family trip. You had been clicking pictures all the time in your trip and you are all excited to share your memories with your friends. But just before you could do that you find out that there is some problem with your memory card and you have lost all your pictures and there is nothing you can do about it. The traditional Hard disks and memory chips allow you to store terabytes of data but once it is damaged there is a possibility that you might lose all your data and the chances of the data getting restored is quite slim. Cloud computing provides you an alternative method to securely back up and store your data online which can be accessed from any part of the world.
What is cloud storage?
Cloud storage is basically storage of data at a safe and secure location online. The stored data can be accessed from any part of the world with an internet connection. Most of us have been familiar with cloud storage services for some time now, although we don’t think of them in that way. YouTube stores millions of videos while social networking sites like Facebook store pictures and other stuff at their respective site’s server. Email providers like Yahoo and Gmail store e-mails at their respective servers, whereas cloud storage services like OneDrive allow you to store any file which is less than 10 GB in size. Users can access their data from all the computers and other devices connected to internet all over the world. Files stored to the internet are more secure and there’s a lesser risk of losing your data.
How does it really work?
When the client sends information and documents through the internet to the data server, the server records the information and allows the access of files to client on the server itself. Since the server may be down or be under maintenance, the storage system saves the information on multiple machines (data redundancy) so that the client has access to all his data anytime. To tackle power supply failures different severs use different power supply and hence ensure that data is available all the time to the client. There are 3 main cloud storage models:-
1. PUBLIC CLOUD
2. PRIVATE CLOUD
3. HYBRID CLOUD
It is a combination of the other 2 models. It allows an organisation to maximise efficiency by employing public cloud services for all non-sensitive operations and relying only on private cloud when required.
Cloud computing provides you a secure online backup and helps you sync your data across different devices. Cloud is much safer than the external hard disks as external drives can easily get damaged or can be lost. The backing up of files do not interfere with the tasks you are performing on your device as the data is backed up automatically in the background and only the changed parts of files are updated. Also with your own private account except you sees your data. It can significantly reduce a company’s IT expenses as cloud computing is probably the most cost efficient method to use as it is available at much cheaper rates as compared to the traditional desktop software. It also allows you to globalise your workforce cheaply as people worldwide have access to cloud provided they have an internet connection. You can also sync your file locally to your android or ios device for offline use, all you need to do connect your device to internet and chose the files to sync with your device, it is great for times when you don’t have internet access like when you are travelling via flight.
SO WHAT’S THE PROBLEM THEN?
Since third party cloud service providers have access to our sensitive information, we need to be absolutely sure that our data is secure with them. Nothing is completely secure on the internet, hence there is always a possibility that your data is vulnerable to external hack attacks. Data security is being tackled worldwide. The service providers take numerous measures to prevent data theft. The biggest concern for data security in cloud systems is insider attacks. All critical data is encrypted meaning even if data is stolen it is still unreadable. Also the reliability factor is as important as the security one as no one can trust a company which doesn’t guarantee that the client the access to its data anywhere anytime. Also if the service provider goes out of business you may lose all your data, hence it is very important to select a company which is financially stable and guarantees the protection of files you have uploaded. Also if your internet suddenly goes down, you may lose access to all your data.
Cloud computing is a relatively new concept, as the technology matures and the competition among the service provider’s increase, the storage costs are likely to reduce further and more people likely to switch to cloud computing for a secure backup of their data. Also, data availability among various devices is as important as data storage. Though data security is a concern, service providers are taking numerous steps to tackle this. It is important that data isolation is properly done because a particular server may contain data of many users. There are loop holes in every new concept. Cloud computing is one of them. Eventually, the IT and consumer industry will move towards cloud computing. For the growing data needs, cloud computing is the only way forward.