Cloud Computing is considered the latest buzzword in computing today. It describes a form of computing wherein services are accessed through the Internet on an as needed or pay-per-use basis. Some aspect of cloud computing is in use on a regular basis. Understanding this technology, its benefits, and underlying security risks are important for people in most of today’s technical areas. Because Cloud computing is still considered to be in its infancy, an introduction to cloud computing, defining its major components, with a focus on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), is the foremost theme of this paper. There are three major elements of cloud computing - Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). Software as a Service (SaaS) is the process of remotely accessing software applications via the Internet circumventing the need to have the software physically installed on a local machine. Using information gathered from major technical books, magazines, and the Internet, my goal is to present a concise explanation of the platforms, its use, and the security concerns involved in its use.
Cloud Computing – Software-as-a-Service
Before we discuss Software as a Service (SaaS), an introduction to cloud computing is in order. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines cloud computing as “A model for enabling ubiquitous, 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” (Mell, P., Grance, T., 2011).
In an interview Ludwig Siegele gave to the Economist in 2008, he quotes a Pew Internet & American Life Project survey that states, “According to a recent study, 69% of Americans connected to the web use some kind of “cloud service”, including web-based e-mail or online data storage” (“Let It Rise”, 2008).
Through the use of the Internet and remotely located servers, cloud computing’s technology allows companies to save money, by eliminating the need to maintain servers and other hardware locally. Having a central location for files, applications, and servers; companies benefit by saving money they would have otherwise invested in equipment maintenance, bandwidth, storage (hard drives), and memory use.
The principal deployment models of cloud computing include the Community Cloud, the Public Cloud, the Private Cloud, and the Hybrid Cloud (“Designing the Community”, 2011).
The design of the Community Cloud characterizes the way conventional resources are accessed over the Internet through third-party web applications or web services. The sharing of common technology concerns – mission, security requirements, policy and compliance is descriptive of the community-based cloud model.
The Public Cloud resides at the cloud provider’s location and defines the...