Cloud is a modern term for (computer) applications, that are stored on company-external servers by external contractors and provided via the internet. Data generated with these applications is also stored in the Cloud. Usually data and application are accessed via a web browser.
One often quoted advantage for applications and data in the Cloud is that companies hardly need make further expenditures for maintenance and operation of IT-infrastructures. A simple PC with internet access is sufficient. The application's maintenance and operation as well as the storing and saving of data is done externally by the provider. Another principle for reducing IT-expenditures to a similar effect is "outsourcing". But here, only services get outsources to specialised providers! Data and applications are kept within the company.
It should be kept debatable whether and which applications can be sensibly moved into the Cloud. e-mail and messaging, as an example, are applications which have been available via the internet for a couple of years. The Cloud is not a new invention anyway, but rather a term for something, which has been available under the term ASP for a long time.
Safety hazards can make storing data in the Cloud problematic:
- Clouds are principally more vulnerable to attack than internal servers, since they are accessible via public addresses.
- Companies that store their important data in the Cloud are very dependent on the provider.
- A provider's bankruptcy can lead to customers who cannot access their data - with unforeseeable consequences.
- Dependence on a functioning internet connection.
- No mandatory sefty standards.
- Data is stored world wide - legislative problems can occur, depending on the National Law of the country where the data is stored.
- Probability of unauthorised access to company data is higher.
- In an emergency, internal servers and personnel can be handled better.
All in all, it depends on the type of data whether a Cloud solution is acceptable and offers advantages. In the case of messaging applications this may work, but when storing and managing all of a company's documents one should be skeptical. Therefore, most Enterprise Document Management Systems such as bitfarm-Archiv are still designed to be run on internal IT-infrastructures. Operation from an external data center is possible nevertheless, since bitfarm-Archiv has a webclient next to the Windows-Client or can be run from a terminal server.