From a user perspective, the term cloud refers to applications and services that are accessed via a browser, with no software or other agents needed to be installed on the device used to access them. From a provider perspective, there are many intricacies in setting up and managing such services, including ensuring high levels of control and security. But, for users, the key is simplicity and always-on availability.
Organisations are seeing the advantages of allowing their employees to access the applications and data that they need to perform their functions from devices and locations that do not tie them to the office. For them, the benefits of offering applications via cloud-based services are many in terms of the lower upfront investment required and the reduced management overhead of managing the applications and provisioning their use to employees. All that is needed is a browser interface and, with just a couple of mouse clicks, a user can be provisioned to use the service.
Now that the browser is the main interface, those applications can be accessed from a wide range of IP-enabled devices that allow internet connectivity. In many countries, there are now more mobile phones than people and the increasing sophistication of those devices means that they are often the first that users will reach for. The range of devices offering internet connectivity is also proliferating, such as digital TVs, and portable memory devices allow data to be transported easily from one device to another.
Among the benefits of using applications delivered via the cloud are that they provide employees with the flexibility they demand in being able to access those applications from wherever they are, on whatever device they wish to use, whenever they want to. But, business applications are used to process, store and communicate information that can be highly sensitive or confidential, such as personal information and intellectual property. To defend itself against that information being accessed and potentially misused by those with no business reason to do so, organisations must develop policies regarding which employees can access what resources, from what devices and what they can do with the information they contain.
However, a policy is only as good as the paper or electronic medium it is written on. It is a good as useless if it cannot be enforced. The only way to ensure that a policy is effective is to monitor how well users are adhering to its requirements, and that requires the use of technology.
Join Bloor Research and Overtis Group for a webinar at 3pm UK time 18th January 2011 that will discuss how a user-centric approach will help them to reap the benefits of cloud-based applications and safeguard the security of their valuable data. To register for the webinar, click here.