Cloud Computing: a very dazzling term. Since its invention, two different forms of this first cloud have emerged. The Public Cloud and the Private Cloud. Additionally, there are mixed forms of the cloud to be found, e.g., the Hybrid Cloud, each with its pros and cons. Right after proclaiming cloud computing to be a trend and a cure to any problem, a new star rises: the Community Cloud. So what does this new “species” have to offer?
How do Public, Private, Hybrid, and Community Clouds Differ?
All clouds have one thing in common: they promise to make a company’s processes more efficient and promote technological progress. The access of stored data in the cloud usually takes place using the Internet – either over a browser only or via a safe VPN connection.
But when taking a closer look, the differences become obvious. While Public Clouds are run by an IT service provider, private clouds are not open to the public. The administration of a private cloud takes place in-house only and is under your control. The hybrid cloud is – like its name – a mixture of public and private cloud. Especially the safety of sensitive company data is a problem when it comes to public clouds – just like the 24/7 availability can be problematic if the data are stored at a third party location.
One, probably not so well known, form of cloud computing is the so-called Community Cloud: there is no consistent definition, but to put it in a nutshell, it is supposed to be a form of a private cloud. However, it is used by various, collaborating companies together. The goal: to improve mutual work processes on one hand, and to better interface management on the other.
The Community Cloud Optimizes Collaborating Company Processes
Since community clouds are fairly similar to private clouds, the requirements can be defined as you will. To do this, you don’t need to refer back to a “Standard-Cloud” third party offer. Due to the private character of the community cloud, the safety of sensitive company data is entirely in one’s own hands at any time. Especially in some sectors, such as the pharmaceutical or financial sectors, special safety regulations and limits can be implemented.
Cooperation is optimized without having to make cuts in security. Mutual work can be established in the community cloud and the administrative effort can be minimized. Moreover, in the long run, this way of collaboration saves cash while increasing efficiency. This can be an easy way to ensure and keep a competitive advantage. Every business partner can access the needed data and applications, anytime and anywhere: this is why tasks can be resolved fast and in a target-oriented manner.
The important thing when it comes to using clouds, and even more when using community clouds, is to ensure that all sensitive data has to be stored centrally and securely. Additionally, access to these data has to be secure. For a secure and flexible way to access centrally stored data – anytime and anywhere – an SSL-based VPN solution comes to mind.
Access a Community Cloud Securely and Flexibly: Use an SSL–VPN!
SSL-VPN solutions are able to solve both very important tasks, secure data transfer and sufficient flexibility. The big plus of SSL-VPNs: most of the time, there are no installations or administrative rights needed on the client side. Generally, a differentiation is made between hardware and software solutions, of course, a combination of both is possible. HOB recommends the usage of a solely software-based solution: This enables you to be much more independent and offers great flexibility. Moreover, these solutions are, put simply, cheaper, and they ensure long-term investment protection. If using a software based solution, the installation is completed centrally and must be made only once on your company’s server in the DMZ. After that, you can flexibly access data using only a java-capable browser and target device (e.g., desktop PC, laptop). An SSL-encrypted data communication ensures the necessary security.
Cloud Computing in general, or the comparison between public and private cloud, stands in the midst of an area of tension with data security on one side and cost effectiveness or scale on the other. Public clouds enable scale effects due to their “mass character” and therefore are very cost effective. However, at this point in time, only private clouds can guarantee a suitable safety of sensitive company data. This is when the term “community cloud” drops into conversations. On one hand you can define individual safety levels and mechanisms, and on the other, scale effects can be realized due to the collaboration of multiple business partners. So, a community cloud can pay off in security².
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