IDaaS, Cloud Data Storage, and Cloud Collaboration
The emergence of wide-spread Internet access combined with the development of cloud based infrastructure, platform, and Software as a Service (SaaS), has created an environment where organizations and normal everyday users have access to vast amounts of computing resources and applications at the click of a button. These cloud resources are not just limited to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and SaaS. Cloud computing also provides methods for other services such as Identification as a Service (IDaaS), Data Storage in the Cloud, and Collaboration in the Cloud.
Identification as a Service (IDaaS)
IDaaS is a service that provides cloud-based ID management. The service is intended to provide a user identification and authentication method that addresses problems associated with users having to remember multiple account logins and passwords, and address the system administration burden of managing multiple user accounts. The IDaaS Single Sign-on (SSO) mechanism simplifies the login problem by providing a single sign-on that will allow users to access multiple services and different systems. This method also allows administrators a method for managing levels of access to services and systems from a single point.
Advantages of IDaaS include:
- Users have fewer accounts and passwords to manage.
- Less password fatigue related to managing multiple passwords.
- Less user time needed to log separately into different systems.
- Fewer support requests for password resets.
- Provides a central location for administrative management of accounts.
Disadvantages of IDaaS include:
- The primary concern with SSO systems is that it creates a single point of failure if the authentication server fails. This forces the added burden of multiple authentication servers to provide redundancy.
- This single point also creates a single breach point. If a user account is breached, an attacker can gain access to all protected systems that the compromised user account has access to.
Data Storage in the Cloud
Cloud storage is the next step evolution of data storage from file servers and Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices. Cloud data storage allows access to data from any device connected to the internet through web browser interfaces, client software that creates a mounted file system, or in the case of developers, it can be accessed through an Application Program Interface (API).
The advantages of cloud based storage include:
- Scalability which allows users to scale storage capacity up or down as needed.
- Pay for use. Users only pay for what they need or per a contracted storage range.
- Cloud data storage providers provide transparent data backup, redundancy, and replication.
- Ease of access. Most cloud storage vendors provide web based interfaces and mapped logical drives to access data.
Disadvantages of cloud based storage include:
- Since cloud-based drives are accessed over the internet they will never be as fast as local drives.
- Some users will never be at ease with data in the cloud.
- Data orphans. Users may abandon cloud-based data accounts leaving confidential business data, or private data at risk.
Collaboration in the Cloud
Collaboration is defined as as “two or more people working together to achieve a result”. Today cloud-based services include collaboration tools such as Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) that allows telephone service through the internet, fax using cloud services, file and folder sharing, wiki’s, webapps, virtual presentations, and virtual meeting. All of these services allow people to interact and collaborate through the internet and cloud services without the need to actually interact in person.
An example of how cloud collaboration can be used to benefit an organization would be cloud meeting rooms. Benefits of meeting rooms include the following:
- Reduces or eliminates the need for business staff to travel and its associated cost.
- Save on costs associated with designated meeting spaces.
- Increases productivity of staff. They eliminate the need for staff to plan travel and attendance details. They can access meetings from their computers.
- Increases opportunities for people who in the past would be unable for time or cost reasons to attend meetings and on-site training.
- Provides opportunities for quick meetings by eliminating extensive plans that are often required for traditional face-to-face meetings. The cost of a virtual meeting is negligible compared to the arrangements and costs associated with traditional meetings.
IDaaS SSO provides a logical way to simplify user login management by providing single points of administration of user accounts. There are more security risks involved with IDaaS and SSO, but if appropriate security measures such as strong account and password policies are stringently enforced, these increased risks can be mitigated.
Data in the Cloud services such as Dropbox and Google Drive address many of the computing issues users have had in the past. These services allow normal users a way to reliably backup important files and documents, as well as a method to easily access these files and documents from anywhere they can connect to the internet. From a business perspective, cloud data storage provides organizations a way to get the data storage they need for a reasonable cost. Since this is a cloud service, organizations are no longer forced to buy and maintain their own data centers. Cloud data storage scalability enables enterprises a way to get and pay for only what storage they need, and also the ability to easily scale up or down depending on demand.
Collaboration in the cloud has provided a mechanism for many services which can facilitate actions that traditionally required face-to-face physical interaction. Service like WebEx or GoToMeeting make it much easier to remote into a user’s computer to troubleshoot a problem instead of being forced to talk them through steps over the phone, or having to take the time to physically travel to the user’s location. Cloud collaboration tools have the potential to benefit any organization whether it is through virtual meetings which save time and money, or through collaborations such as development wiki’s which allow developers to share project documentation.
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