Friday, June 17, 2011


Cloud computing refers to the use and access of multiple server-based computational resources via a digital network ( WAN, Internet connection using the World Wide Web, etc.). Cloud users may access the server resources using a computer, netbook, pad computer, smart phone, or other device. In cloud computing, applications are provided and managed by the cloud server and data is also stored remotely in the cloud configuration. Users do not download and install applications on their own device or computer; all processing and storage is maintained by the cloud server. The on-line services may be offered from a cloud provider or by a private organization.

                                                                                                                       A cloud user needs a client device such as a laptop or desktop computer, pad computer, smart phone, or other computing resource with a web browser (or other approved access route) to access a cloud system via the World Wide Web. Typically the user will log into the cloud at a service provider or private company, such as their employer. Cloud computing works on a client-server basis, using web browser protocols. The cloud provides server-based applications and all data services to the user, with output displayed on the client device. If the user wishes to create a document using a word processor, for example, the cloud provides a suitable application running on the server which displays work done by the user on the client web browser display. Memory allocated to the client system's web browser is used to make the application data appear on the client system display, but all computations and changes are recorded by the server, and final results including files created or altered are permanently stored on the cloud servers. Performance of the cloud application is dependent upon the network access, speed and reliability as well as the processing speed of the client device.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides a concise and specific definition:
Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction

Cloud computing's users are exposed to risks mainly associated with:
1) Information security and users' privacy
  • Using a service of cloud computing to store data may expose the user to potential violation of privacy. Possession of a user's personal information is entrusted to a provider that can reside in a country other than the user's. In the case of a malicious behavior of the cloud provider, it could access the data in order to perform market research and user profiling.
  • In the case of wireless cloud computing, the safety risk increases as a function of reduced security offered by wireless networks. In the presence of illegal acts like misappropriation or illegal appropriation of personal data, the damage could be very serious for the user, with difficulty to reach legal solutions and/or refunds if the provider resides in a state other than the user's country.
  • In the case of industries or corporations, all the data stored in external memories are seriously exposed to possible cases of international or cyber_espionage.
2) International, political and economic problems
  • May arise when public data are freely collected and privately stored from cloud's archives located in a country other than those of the cloud's users. Crucial and intellectual productions and large amounts of personal informations are increasingly stored in private, centralized and partially accessible archives in the form of digital data. No guarantee is given to the users for a free future access.
  • Issues are related with the location of the cloud's archives in a few rich countries. If not governed by specific international rules:
  1. it could increase the digital divide between rich and poor nations (if the access to the stored knowledge will be not freely ensured to all).
  2. being the intangible property considered as a strategic factor for the modern knowledge-based economies it could favorite big corporations with "polycentric bodies" and "monocentric minds" only located in the "cloud's countries".