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The word cloud computing sounds like a very new word but in reality cloud services have been in place for a very longtime. There has been many cloud services in place for quite a long time although the terminology seems new. People who have been using free web-mail services like those offered by yahoo, google, hotmail, to mention but a few are some of the people who have been using cloud services for that long.
What then is cloud computing?
As long as you use a service or application whose information or your information is saved away from you and you can access this information irrespective of the computer you are using provided you have connectivity, then you are using cloud computing. Now, this means, there are use applications that can be used with out installation on the local computer. Companies with multi locations/offices are having on line applications, for example accounting applications, logistic management, Human Resource Management that are not locally installed. Users access these applications through an Internet connection. Some companies rent hardware services for example server space, with different specifications, back up space which they still access through a mere Internet connection.
With this advent of things, it is evident that more and more companies are saving their data and information over the Internet (cloud). Before work is sent to the cloud and the connection its self we are advised to encrypt them to ensure security and privacy of the information. However this information ultimately sleeps on a particular physical server or servers scattered in the cloud. This means the person (company) who owns the physical server can decide to use the data he/she is storing for personal gains. Different governments have authorized data and communication interception and can now gladly intercept that data as it leave the ISP's network or at the IXP point, if there is one.
With these and many more examples of possible occurrences of insecurity, one wonders whether it is trendy that people are moving to cloud services or the benefits far way out weigh the risks.
On 27th November 2012, we discussed the challenges of cloud computing on the Diplo Webinar. The discussion was basically about the security and privacy challenges and what can be done. All in all, from the discussion, I realised that good legislation and implementation of security measures can undermine most of the security challenges we think about in cloud computing.
After all the possible challenges are addressed, and all seems great, what happens in developing nations? The major hindrance in developing nations is still at infrastructural capacity. The most common cloud services are web-mail services and social media in developing nations. Companies are still using local (in-house) application because the bandwidth requirements to smoothly run cloud computing services is still far from reality down here. In countries like Uganda where the average bandwidth is below 3Mbps for an office with more than 100 computers, its still unrealistic to run user application as cloud applications. Besides the bandwidth the average availability of most Internet connections in Uganda is still low, some thing below 90%. Ninety seems big but lets put it into perspective. A month of 30 days has 30X24 hours. 90% of this is 648 hours. This leaves out 72hrs with out Internet connectivity. In a month of 30 days, to have 3 days without Internet is quite a long period, some times a time not acceptable to be with out an accounting application.
In Conclusion, therefore, connectivity and bandwidth are still critical aspects we have to give special attention in developing nations as security and privacy rank high in nations that have made it in cloud computing.
ISP – Internet Service Provider
IXP – Internet Exchange Point