What is a cloud anyway?
In simple terms, the cloud stands for an external server. More precisely, putting something on an external server is what is meant by cloud for storage. Thus, computer resources are provided via the Internet. These resources are primarily storage space, computing capacity and software.
“But why a cloud?” you ask?
The answer is as simple as it is logical. The cloud as a symbol is used by computer scientists. It means that there is no direct connection from one system to another; rather data is exchanged via the Internet. From this definition, you can already see one prerequisite for using a cloud: a functioning Internet connection.
The main tasks of cloud software
As already mentioned, a cloud is an Internet service. Could software refers to applications that are not set up locally.
Primarily, these are applications for storing, accessing and moving data.
When you consider using a cloud solution, it is basically a very straightforward matter. The software runs without additional hardware and, in most cases, without separate software. The user only has to log in to the corresponding interface.
Consequently, the most important tasks of a cloud include:
- Data storage
- Data sharing
- Accessing and downloading previously saved data
With cloud computing, you decide against having or expanding your own data center, because that can be expensive and time-consuming. Acquisition, maintenance, specialist staff are all factors that drive up costs.
Of course, a functioning data center is essential for the operation of a company. Another risk presents itself when there are problems, or if the data center fails completely, then the company is at a standstill – probably the biggest nightmare of every business. This risk alone means that we tend to over-invest in data centers.
None of these are factors are a problem in cloud computing, where technology does not have to be purchased, installed or maintained by the company itself.
How do cloud solutions differ?
The various cloud solutions on offer are nothing more than different service models, because they differ in terms of the services they offer. This is why all of the concepts also bear the designation “as a service” in their names, which already describes the scope of services.
The customer can choose according to his needs and can, for example, opt for the infastructure only, choose a solution for developers or use complete cloud software.
Important service models are:
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
In this model, the provider makes the IT infrastructure, for example computing capacity and storage space, available to companies virtually.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
This offering is primarily intended for software developers. The user receives a cloud-based development environment via hosted software. Programmers no longer have to worry about installation and maintenance.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
In this model, complete software is offered from the cloud. Now, the customer does not have to worry about implementation, maintenance or hardware capacity to use a smoothly running software.
What are the benefits of cloud solutions?
More and more, companies are switching to cloud solutions. As the manufacturer and largest service provider of the service management software OTRS, we have also been following this trend for some time.
Until a few years ago, a large majority of our new customers did not opt for the cloud variant. Today, we see that our customers are showing more and more interest in software operation via the cloud.
The ability to use OTRS without having to install the instance on the company’s own computers is attractive to many companies, and it also provides access to a professional software solution, especially for medium-sized companies with limited infrastructure and personnel resources. This brings us back to several advantages of cloud-based offerings in general.
Let’s summarize the most important ones again here.
The most important arguments that persuade companies to opt for a cloud solution are rapid implementation, timeliness and security, freedom from maintenance, independence from location and scalability.
When a company opts for a cloud solution, it can “get started” immediately.
Only registration is required to use basic functions. Even more complex functions are usually available within a very short time, usually days or a few weeks.
Timeliness and security
A cloud provider’s reputation also depends on the security of its product. Therefore, it has experts who evaluate the latest updates, security protocols and requirements and ensure that they are integrated into the product. They also work continuously to fix vulnerabilities.
Not only do updates, upgrades or the integration of patches regularly require a lot of resources, but the maintenance in general, such as the testing of functionalities, does also. With cloud solutions, the provider takes care of all this work and thus relieves your employees.
For cloud solutions, there are no physical data centers or servers running the software in your workplace. It is a browser-based application that can be accessed from anywhere. Location and device independent.
With the recent increased interest in decentralized working environments, digitalization and usage of mobile devices, mean that it is essential to adapt.
Cloud-based solutions are perfectly scalable – increasing and decreasing capacity as needed. This means that the number of users can be adjusted as required. In the case of on-premise solutions, scalability is very low because expansions incur additional costs and take a lot of time.
Loss of control through cloud solutions?
When companies move to cloud-based solutions, they are, in a sense, giving up control of their environment in exchange for increased scalability and flexibility. At the very least, loss of control is often talked about in connection with cloud solutions. Does this correspond to reality?
On closer inspection, this control is not really lost with a SaaS. Reputable cloud providers confirm in writing that the data is yours and that you have the right to modify, delete or manage it as you wish. Plus, administrative controls are easily accessible and readily available to internal IT teams.
OTRS Group experts understand the importance of ensuring that the solution fits your operations and have a team available to do so. In this way, the knowledge required for customization is imparted by the service provider’s staff and knowledge gaps are avoided.
Cloud and security
While the demand for cloud solutions is growing, as we clearly see working as a vendor of fully hosted service management software, not all companies are following this trend. Some companies are still opting for the more traditional on-premise approach. While the reasons for this vary widely, they often involve security concerns or compliance requirements. Specifically, unauthorized access to sensitive data or the risk of data being lost in the cloud.
One of the advantages of SaaS solutions is that patches and security updates are routinely applied by the vendor, which usually makes them more secure than on-premise options.
But that’s where SaaS solutions can be an advantage, because one of their benefits is that patches and security updates are routinely applied by the provider, which usually makes them more secure than on-premise options. While enterprise IT teams must comply with regulations, this is where SaaS solution providers come in to assist. OTRS, for example, is hosted in a private cloud that is certified to ISO27001, PCI-DSS, SSAE16 or SOC1. The fully managed environment is operated in accordance with GDPR requirements. Data security is a top priority for OTRS Group and many other companies offering SaaS.
Incidentally, many risks of cloud solutions also apply to on-premise variants. For example, when it comes to data loss or the issue of access authorization. If data is lost due to user errors, it can be restored via a backup. Reputable cloud providers offer the necessary backup strategies. In addition, they insist on appropriately secure login processes.
So basically, it can be said that cloud solutions are no more insecure than on-site hosted ones. But of course, you should pay attention to the security standards of the provider.
If you choose reputable, established providers, you don’t have to worry much about data security in the cloud.
But you should avoid risky cloud-based solution providers and take the time to ask important questions before you decide.
What questions should you ask cloud providers?
Your business security also depends on the data you give out. That’s why it’s important to find out how that data will be processed and stored before you make your decision.
Ask the potential provider of your cloud solution the following questions:
- Have you previously experienced security breaches? What has been done to prevent these in the future? What does security incident management look like for your company?
- How and how often are you audited for compliance? What certifications do you have?
- How is data encrypted? How often are keys changed or updated?
- What backup procedures are in place? Are backups encrypted?
- Where is the data center located? What data center security procedures are in place?
- What authentication requirements are in place?
- Are logs kept? Who has access to them?
- What patch management processes do you have in place?
- How is data segmentation ensured?
- What are your monitoring procedures? What is the process when attacks are identified?
- Are components of the service provided by third parties? If so, which ones and what data protection efforts do they operate?
- What happens to our data when the contract is terminated?
Your goal should be to identify the level of security you need in your situation and compare that to the answers above. This will help you assess whether the vendor’s security practices meet your desired level of protection.
Also, discuss this list with departments looking to add a new service, and make sure the IT team routinely participates in the decision-making process when signing up for new cloud-based services.
Cloud-based solutions also offer security benefits. But you need to know exactly what you’re being offered before you decide. Use these questions to help.
With OTRS you can choose
As the manufacturer and largest service provider of the service management software OTRS, we take the concerns of customers and prospects very seriously. With our managed version, they benefit from certified data centers and GDPR-compliant data protection processes. Nevertheless, we don’t want to let down customers who are unsure or subject to compliance guidelines despite everything. For them, there is OTRS On-Premise.
With this OTRS variant, the management and operation of all necessary hardware components is the responsibility of the customer. But OTRS On-Premise also comes with comprehensive and individually configurable functionalities. Depending on the deployment scenario, customers can choose from up to 56 feature add-ons and select between the SILVER, GOLD, TITAN and PLATIN service packages.
We offer our customers the solution that best suits them. And this is independent of company size, IT infrastructure and industry.
Are you still looking? Want to learn more about our solutions?