Cloud computing, cloud data – these expressions have been gaining popularity in the last 7 years. Millions of companies use the cloud and significantly benefit from it – financially, but also in terms of efficiency, comfort of file storage as well as boosted cooperation and communication.
We’re going to show you what cloud computing is, what kinds of clouds there are and what are the benefits of using it.
Cloud computing – what is it?
Cloud computing, also referred to as simply the cloud or internet cloud is a network of connected servers. Within this network we can use the solutions shared by the service provider (cloud owner), for example:
- Disk space (Google Disk, OneDrive, Dropbox),
- Mailbox (Gmail, Outlook),
- Internet communicators and video conference tools (Google Meet, Skype, Zoom),
- Cloud applications, such as the text editor or online calculation sheets (Google Docs, Excel in OneDrive),
- Set of services for developers, dedicated to creating the infrastructure and own application (Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure).
The cloud does not require installing any software on the device – user have constant access to files and applications via the internet browser. This is possible thanks to the devices that belong to the service provider and are network connected 24/7. In order for these devices to operate without obstacles, the temperature and the humidity in the Data Center has to be suitable. The devices should also be secured against damage, water or fire and their access should be strictly monitored.
Technological giants, such as Google, have a number of Data Centers connected with each other, by means of which the Google Cloud has global impact and the services run just as fast in Warsaw, as in New York or Sydney.
The Google Cloud Network – map presenting the fibre connections between Data Centers
Private, public, hybrid, multi-cloud – types of corporate clouds
Companies can use various types of computing clouds:
- private cloud – includes exclusive sharing of cloud space within the internal network; the environment is isolated and the company does not share the cloud with other users;
- public cloud – devices belong to external service providers (for e.g. Google or Microsoft) and are part of the global network; the public cloud offers a number of ready solutions, for example an application for communication or infrastructure services;
- hybrid cloud – combination of the public and private cloud or individual server.
Corporate use of the cloud
Cloud computing is not only disk space, but also many tools and services. Here are some examples on how companies can use the cloud:
- corporate file storage on the cloud disk, instead of the computer or pendrive – this enables a comfortable access to materials,
- team edition of documents – text documents, presentations calculation sheets; the introduced changes will be saved automatically and will be instantly available to co-workers,
- automatic back-up and retrieving files,
- setting up your own website in the cloud – which guarantees larger stability and cost clarity than any hosting,
- creating your application using cloud services for programmers.
Here you can check the examples of a corporate use of the cloud:
- How does CCIG Group ensure data security with G Suite?
- What’s it like to collaborate with people across 5 different continents
- How Wizerunek w Sieci improved the management of over 30 websites
Advantages of using the cloud
What advantages of the cloud report its users?
- Easier cooperation – team edition of documents within the cloud environment allows to cooperate in real time and cancels the necessity to repeatedly send corrected versions of files,
- Access from the internet browser – platforms, such as the Google Workspace can be accessed from any device: a computer with Windows, Linux, macOS or a smartphone;
- Safety and stability – files and data stored in the cloud are password protected and can be strengthened with additional safety mechanisms; if a corporate computer gets damaged or stolen, the data will remain safe in the cloud;
- Access control – the administrator can easily control the users accessing corporate files and designs, and manage the authorization levels,
- Disk space and computing output – cloud resources are almost unlimited, we can use all the space and output as needed,
- Services accelerating development – in case of cloud platforms, the service providers offer hundreds of services that you can run your own source code on and create your internet service, mobile application or advanced software even faster.
Flaws of using the cloud
The cloud also has some flaws and the most frequent arguments „against” cloud computing are:
- Dependency on service providers – the cloud is a framework where we purchase access to resources physically belonging to the supplier. If the supplier has an emergency, the access to our data in the cloud will be difficult or impossible,
- safety – is an issue that generates a lot of discussion. The popular service providers (e.g. GCP, AWS) fulfill a number of safety requirements and perform regular audits; however, the data stored in the cloud remain within the service provider’s solution and, thus, it’s hard to introduce individual securities,
- a more complex calculation model – settling accounts for cloud services takes place within other models than in the case of using your own devices, which at first may generate difficulties; in case of corporate package services (e.g. Google Workspace – corporate mailbox, cloud disk) there is a selection of licences and the cost depends on the number of stations; the cost of the cloud infrastructure services (e.g. Google Cloud Platform) depends on the usage on a minute or second basis,
- overpayment for services due to false configuration – when it comes to the cloud, it’s good to select services according to the needs and, significantly, you need to configure it correctly. For people with no experience in performing cloud services it’s best to use the support of a certified partner, because otherwise they will be prone to unnecessarily high costs,
- necessity to introduce changes in the work course – implementing cloud solutions should be combined with a partial change in the work course, increasing the employees’ conscience in terms of the cloud, sometimes obtaining new competence (e.g. DevOps for cloud infrastructure), which is associated with additinal financing.
The Cloud versus the law – what should we pay attention to?
The cloud generates many questions connected with the legal regulations, particularly with regard to personal data processing. The provisions of Art. 4 of the GDPR indicate that data processing means every operation performed as per this data: collecting, saving, organizing, ordering, storing, modifying, viewing, distributing, also within an IT system. The list remains open – it should be, thus, assumed that any field with information on the employees, clients and users of the application consitutes personal data processing.
Significantly, in case of data processed in the cloud, the administrator of personal data remains to be the company and not the cloud services provider. It is the administrator that is responsible for entrusting the proper entity fulfilling the necessary requirements with the personal data.
The following should be considered when selecting a cloud service provider:
- phycial localization of data centers – if the company operates on the territory of an EU member state subject to the GDPR provisions, a service provider should be selected that shares a data center within the territory of the European Economic Area (EEA);
- conditions for providing services by the service provider – it is necessary to learn the conditions of data safety and processing performed by the service provider; it occurs that some cloud service providers cooperate with third parties which constitutes a danger of processing data outside the EEA by organizations unknown to the administrator,
- safety and technical standard – cloud service providers are subject to safety instructions and audits carried out by independent entities; in order to provide services in accordance with the law, the service provider has to comply with two basic standards: ISO/IEC 27001 concerning the management of data safety and ISO/IEC 27018 referring to the safety of personal data stored in the cloud,
- written agreement with the service provider – the data administrator should conclude a written agreement on entrusting the personal data processing; the administrator has to seek that the agreement contains information on which entities in which scope shall have access to the data stored in the cloud and whether these entities fulfill the necessary safety requirements.
How much does the corporate cloud cost?
Cloud services are scalable and adjust to the business requirements – similarly to its cost. A company with a few employees has access to the similar business tools as an international corporation employing thousands of employees. Adequately, a new start up can build its own cloud infrastructure by selecting those services used by technological giants for years. In both cases companies will pay proportinally less – depending on the plan, number of employees or computing output usage.
The calculation model differs depending on the kind of cloud services. We will settle accounts differently with a provider for using a business application package (e.g. virtual devices, cloud databases, tolls for developers).
Payment model for packages of business applications (using the example of Google Workspace)
The cloud platform consists of among other: corporate mailbox, disk space, applications used for text file edition, calculation sheets, communicator or a tool for video conferencing. Popular examples of such corporate solutions are Google Workspace and Microsoft 365.
The creators of the platform come forward with solutions in various packages that vary in terms of the available functions and license prices. Prices are usually presented in the following form: type of package / one account / on a monthly basis.
Below is a table comparing the Google Workspace Business packages (formerly G Suite) with price per license indication.
Therefore, for example:
- an entrepreneur runs a one-man business; he purchases one Business Starter licence on Google Workspace and pays 6 $ per month;
- a company consists of 10 employees and wants to give access to Google Workspace in the Business Standard package to all of them; its monthly payment is in total 120 $,
- a 100-man company needs Business Standard accounts for its 80 employees and higher licences of Business Plus for 20 employees; its monthly payment is in total 1320 $ (960 $ for the Standard accounts and 360 $ for the Plus accounts).
Prices can be lower in case of cooperation with a Google Cloud Partner. Partners often offer discounts for using the Google Workspace services or support negotiations with the service provider.
Payment model for cloud infrastructure services (on the example of the Google Cloud Platform)
Payment for the cloud infrastructure services are calculated with respect to the configuration method and usage level, most frequently on a second or minute basis.
For instance, the cost of one of the most popular Google Cloud Platform services – the Compute Engine, thus virtual machine services – will inter alia depend on :
- type of the device – its memory or vCPU (virtual processor),
- localization of the data center – the price of the service will be different for a device located in Las Vegas, London and Tokyo,
- method of data transfer and network usage – depending on whether we are using public internet or the Google Cloud network,
- load – if traffic is small, the application uses little computing output, the cost of the service will be low; if traffic intensifies, the service will scale up together with the cost – proportionally to the load.
The Google Cloud Platform consists of nearly 200 services and each of them has a different price depending on many factors. The cost of an infrastructure within the Google Cloud can be only be defined with technical knowledge of the application (you can use dedicated calculator).
It’s good to use the cloud with the support of a certified Partner who knows the solution and is able to indicate possibilities of cost optimization. No cloud knowledge, improper service selection and wrong configuration can lead to unnecessarily high invoices.
Google Cloud – corporate cloud popular with entrepreneurs
Google Cloud is a public cloud, created and developed by, of course, Google. It comprises two main solutions: Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) and the Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
For file storage, cooperation and communication – Google Workspace
Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) is a package of cloud tools for work and communication.
Google Workspace comprises of the following tools:
- Gmail – corporate mailbox in the domain @NameOfYourCompany,
- Calendar – an online calendar that allows to easily plan meetings and joint activities, as well as add information or files,
- Google Chat – a communicator in cooperation with other Google applications,
- Google Meet – a video conference tool, continuously extended with new functionalities (i.a. joint drawing on the remote Jamboard or surveying),
- Google Drive – cloud disk,
- Google Docs – file editor where the edition can be carried out by many people at once,
- Google Sheets – calculation sheets,
- Google Slides – application that allows to create and edit multimedia presentations,
- Google Forms – a tool for creating surveys and managing the analysis results,
- Google Keep – application for creating and joint editing of notes,
- Google Sites – website editor,
- Google Admin – administrative console.
Google Workspace allows for efficient cooperation and document control. The changes introduced by one person are instantly visible by other colleagues and Google saves the whole editing history. You do not need to constantly press Ctrl+S, nor forward the corrected file version for the fifth time. All documents are located on the Google Disk and its safety is controlled by the administrator from the comprehensive administrative console.
For website or application creation – Google Cloud Platform
The Google Cloud Platform (abbreviated to: GCP) is a package of the computing cloud for programmers and administrators. These technolgies are similar to those used by Google to develop its own tools and applications.
The Google Cloud Platform components can be selected individually in order to create your own, business adjusted infrastructure. The services include:
- Virtual devices and unlimited computing output (the Compute Engine service),
- managing Kubernetes clusters (Google Kubernetes Engine),
- tools for quick implementation of also applications in containers (App Engine, Cloud Functions, Cloud Run services),
- cloud databases (Cloud SQL, Datastore),
- Data Warehouses and BigData analysis (BigQuery),
- Cloud Storage,
- Ready models of machine learning and artificial intelligence that allow to create many innovative products,
- A platform for the developemnt of the Internet of Things.
By means of using the Google Cloud Platform services you can host a simple website, maintain an extensive application or develop an advanced system using artificial intelligence models.
All users of the Google Cloud Platform have access to the similar services – both the global corporations, as well as the medium and small companies or startups. The usage scale depends on the needs. New companies can use the same tools as PayPal, eBay or Twitter does, and pay proportionally less, depending on the real usage.