A Look at Cloud Computing from the U.S. Chief Information Officer

A Look at Cloud Computing from the U.S. Chief Information Officer

Earlier this year, the U.S. Chief Information Officer released the “Federal Cloud Computing Strategy,” which outlines the benefits of cloud computing. Defining cloud computing is a difficult task, since its definition can be as amorphous as its namesake. However, Vivek Kundra’s document helps outline exactly what comprises cloud computing, as well as its benefits.

Kundra outlines the benefits of cloud computing, stating, “Cloud Computing enables IT systems to be scalable and elastic. End users do not need to determine their exact computing resource requirements upfront.” This allows for what he calls, “on-demand” use of computing resources. Cloud computing can also improve IT in the public sector. Kundra notes that several government agencies have switched to cloud computing technologies, which “gives researchers access to IT services relatively inexpensively in minutes.” Systems not in the cloud take much more time and resources to procure information.

In the legal industry, the term “cloud computing” is used loosely, for many different applications and purposes, making it difficult to grasp exactly what each company provides. Kundra breaks cloud computing into four different categories. From “Federal Cloud Computing Strategy”:

–          Private Cloud. The cloud infrastructure is operated solely for an organization. It may be managed by the organization or a third party and may exist on premise or off premise.

–          Community Cloud: The cloud infrastructure is shared by several organizations and supports a specific community that has shared concerns…It may be managed by the organizations or a third party and may exist on premise or off premise.

–          Public Cloud. The cloud infrastructure is made available to the general public or a large industry group and is owned by an organization selling cloud services.

–          Hybrid Cloud. The cloud infrastructure is a composition of two or more clouds (private, community, or public) that remain unique entities but are bound together by standardized or proprietary technology that enables data and application portability.

Even after defining the types of cloud computing, it may not be clear as to which option is best. LLM’s Lit ManagerTM uses a private cloud, as our servers are hosted solely for LLM. Private clouds are much more secure than other cloud options, such as the public clouds offered by Amazon or Salesforce. Privately-owned clouds can be more easily managed and monitored than public clouds, allowing for more control and thus, security.

In addition to outlining types of clouds, Kundra also defines cloud service models in his paper. These service models include: software as a service, platform as a service and infrastructure as a service. Lit ManagerTM provides cloud software as a service (SaaS). Software as a service, Kundra defines, is a cloud in which “the applications are accessible from various client devices through a thin client interface such as a web browser….” The software as a service platform is secure and easy to use because, as Kundra notes, “The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure.” Therefore, the client does not have to micromanage the cloud and can simply use it to access their information without worry.

In a world where the term “Cloud Computing” is applied to almost anything with an internet connection, Kundra’s “Federal Cloud Computing Strategy” helps outline the definition, uses and benefits of cloud computing. To make sense out of the enigma that cloud computing has become, perhaps companies should begin to define cloud computing by type, rather than by using a blanket term.

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