When you store your photos online instead of on your home computer, or use webmail or a social networking site, you are using a “cloud computing” service. If you are an organization, and you want to use, for example, an online invoicing service instead of updating the in-house one you have been using for many years, that online invoicing service is a “cloud computing” service. Cloud computing refers to the delivery of computing resources over the Internet. Instead of keeping data on your own hard drive or updating applications for your needs, you use a service over the Internet, at another location, to store your information or use its applications. Doing so may give rise to certain privacy implications. For that reason, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) has prepared some responses to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). We have also developed a Fact Sheet that provides detailed information on cloud computing and the privacy challenges it presents. Cloud Computing Cloud computing is the delivery of computing services over the Internet. Cloud services allow individuals and businesses to use software and hardware that are managed by third parties at remote locations. Examples of cloud services include online file storage, social networking sites, webmail, and online business applications. The cloud computing model allows access to information and computer resources from anywhere that a network connection is available. Cloud computing provides a shared pool of resources, including data storage space, networks, computer processing power, and specialized corporate and user applications.
The following definition of cloud computing has been developed by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): 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. This cloud model promotes the availability and is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models.1 Characteristics
The characteristics of cloud computing include on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, and measured service. On-demand self-service means that customers (usually organizations) can request and manage their own computing resources. Broad network access allows services to be offered over the Internet or private networks. Pooled resources mean that customers draw from a pool of computing resources, usually in remote data centers. Services can be scaled larger or smaller, and use of a service is measured and customers are billed accordingly.
The cloud computing service models are Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). In a Software as a Service model, a pre-made application, along with any required software, operating system, hardware, and network are provided. In PaaS, an operating system, hardware, and network are provided, and the customer installs or develops its own software and applications. The IaaS model provides just the hardware and network; the customer installs or develops its own operating systems, software and applications.
Deployment of cloud services:
Cloud services are typically made available via a private cloud, community cloud, public cloud or hybrid cloud. Generally speaking, services provided by a public cloud are offered over the Internet and are owned and operated by a cloud provider. Some examples include services aimed at the general public, such as online photo storage services, e-mail services, or social networking sites. However, services for enterprises can also be offered in a public cloud. In a private cloud, the cloud infrastructure is operated solely for a specific organization and is managed by the organization or a third party. In a community cloud, the service is shared by several organizations and made available only to those groups. The infrastructure may be owned and operated by the organizations or by a cloud service provider.