Frequently asked questions
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The cloud refers to platforms provided as a service and controlled through a web or command line interface that offer an array of compute, storage, other services at low cost and nearly instantly from anywhere in the world. The key idea behind it is that it offers the opportunity to take advantage of economies of scale to democratize access to powerful technologies, and the customer pays for what they use.
The cloud is essentially a collection of data centres spread throughout the world and accessible through these interfaces. It is so named because the customer never has to think about the hardware and data centres that the cloud platform uses to offer their services. Importantly, the client also doesn't have to make purchases of hardware and take the risks inherent in estimating requirements when building an on-premises data centre. With cloud, it's all available on-demand and at lower cost than on-premises.
Contact us to learn how we can help you take advantage of the cloud in your business.
Cloud computing helps all kinds of organizations in a number of different ways. One of the biggest benefits is reduced IT costs. By deploying applications and network infrastructure in the cloud, companies can reduce the IT footprint they must maintain on-premises.
Another benefit is flexibility in that when planning an on-premises data centre, one must purchase hardware based on estimates of current and future demand, including spikes, in order to ensure the infrastructure will be able to handle traffic. An incorrect estimate can result in downtime and unhappy customers and/or employees. By contrast when deploying to the cloud, resources are elastic and can be scaled up or down quickly to meet fluctuations in demand. You pay for what you use and can take advantage of different billing models like reserved instances, savings plans, and Spot instances to save money.
Another benefit is the ability to instantly go global. You can deploy your applications with low latency to edge locations throughout the world at the click of a button.
Yet another benefit is access to cutting edge technologies through economies of scale. Need to build a Blockchain solution? Need to use data from Satellites? Need to deploy a fleet of internet connected devices? Need artificial intelligence? Machine learning? Quantum computing? Robotics? AWS has it all for you at your fingertips. Try deploying all that in your on-premises data centre!
These benefits only scratch the surface, but it should be clear that the cloud offers far more than could be achieved through an in-house data centre.
There are a couple of different angles to this question. First, it's important to point out that the cloud is just a term for the platform-as-a-service offered by companies like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. The cloud is just someone else's data centres that they manage and offer services to you on a pay-as-you-go model. So where is the data stored? On volumes managed by the cloud provider and depending on the type of storage, sometimes automatically replicated behind to the scenes to provide extremely high durability.
Another aspect to consider is where the physical hardware on which your data is stored, is located. In the case of many countries, there are rules around data residency and privacy, so you may have to consider this especially if you're dealing with sensitive health or financial data. Read more on data residency considerations from the point of view of Canadian legislation: Demystifying Canadian Data Residency and the Public Cloud.
This completely depends on your use case. The are general categories of storage such as block storage, file storage, and object storage. AWS customers can read more here: EBS vs EFS vs FSx vs S3: How These Storage Options Differ. Of course if you are referring to database storage, this also depends on your use case, but AWS offers different database engines throught their Relational Database Service (RDS) as well as NoSQL options like DynamoDB and DocumentDB (MongoDB Compatible), a well as Quantum Ledger and Neptune for more specific use cases. Contact us to discuss your scenario.
Every storage service in AWS and other cloud providers includes recommended strategies for backing up and restoring data. For example, S3 in AWS comes with extremely high levels of durability (99.999999999% durability of objects over a given year) meaning that over a given year you would only risk losing 0.000000001% of objects due to a hardware failure on the AWS-side. In other words, over a period of ten thousand years, if you were storing ten million objects (files) you might lose one single file. That's over ten thousand years! This really means S3, due to the way AWS has architected the service, is extremely reliable. If you wish, you can sync your S3 buckets to other regions within AWS in order to maintain a backup. In the case of other storage services like EBS, it's essential to create policies that automate backups regularly. Of course if you don't properly secure your resources in the cloud, your data could be lost due to malicious activity. Take care of security of your applications and data in the cloud in order to keep them protected.
The short answer is yes, files stored in the cloud can be lost, but if you choose the right service for the use-case, secure it correctly, and follow best practices to ensure backups are taken regularly it is unlikely that you will lose your data.
This is an interesting question, but one to which a formula can't really be applied. The key to answering it is in knowing what all your true costs really are in planning, building, servicing, replacing, staffing, etc, your on-premises data centre. Then consider that much of the human labour costs associated with managing a data centre aren't required with the cloud. But of course you still need knowledgeable cloud consultants to help plan and implement your architecture. Generally speaking, the cost of cloud computing incorporates all those additional expenses into a model that's faar easier and quicker to deploy and scale.
There are two broad categories to consider regarding security of cloud services: security of the cloud, and security in the cloud.
Cloud platforms like AWS, Google Cloud, and Azure, are responsible for security of the cloud. This means that they ensure the facilities, hardware, software and networking in which their services run are secured. The customer by contrast is responsible for security in the cloud. This means that after the cloud platform provides us with resources to use, we are responsible for keeping our applications and data secure. We do this with sound cloud architecture using encryption in transit and at rest, using secure passwords, network ACLs and security groups, proper authentication and authorization, etc.
There are several different kinds of cloud storage. In all cases the customer is responsible for securing access to the resource where the data is stored. Any computer system can be accessed by unauthorized entities if not secured properly.
For example, in S3, an object storage service in AWS, the customer must ensure that public access is turned off, that there is an effective policy attached to the S3 "bucket" that grants specific actions to specific systems or individuals based on the principle of least privilege. This means that you provide an individual, role, group, or system with only enough permissions for the actions that role will actually need. Never use wildcards in policies because this will almost always grant more access than needed. In EFS, a block storage solution, the endpoints that connect the volume to your EC2 instances should be secured with security groups. The EC2 instances themselves should also have security groups protecting its network interfaces, and logging-in to the instance should be secured by SSH or similar. Keep your SSH keys safe!
As per the AWS Shared Responsibility Model, the customer is responsible for keeping their applications and data secured, and with the right cloud services consultants you can ensure your cloud architecture is sound.
At kind of computer system can be accessed by unauthorized entities if not secured correctly. In order to minimize the chance of this happening, ensure you use complex passwords and SSH access, secure the network from intrusion, and use system firewalls.