Advanced Web Services: Private Cloud Computing

Cloud computing refers to the use of the Internet to pay bills, transfer and deposit funds, make purchases, and so on. Most people perform services over the Internet (such as purchase cloud storage, rent videos, buy music, etc.), but private cloud computing refers to Internet services that are controlled by companies and businesses with regard to their own employees.

Companies and businesses have their own reasons for choosing to go private in cloud computation, and many reject public services so as to exercise greater control over their Internet security and services than public providers allow.

The rationale behind private cloud computing is obvious: companies have their own goals and plans for their enterprise. The goal of any company is to provide great products and services, make profits, grow sales and customer base, and continue to expand their services globally.

In order to achieve these goals, businesses have to use services — particularly those on the Internet.

For example, businesses need to have encryption software in order to protect their work and documents from hackers, malware, and malicious viruses.

If a hacker breaks into company software and steals company secrets, he or she can destroy all of a company’s documents and cause the company to collapse in one day. The destruction left behind after a hacker attacks a company’s Internet and data system can take months to fix and thousands of dollars to repair. In situations such as these, companies feel the need to have their work protected from invasion.

With regard to Internet security and services, there are two types: public and private cloud computing.

Private cloud computing refers to the use of Internet services that are provided by public companies such as Amazon, Apple, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Dropbox, SugarSync, and so on.

When businesses consider public cloud computing, they purchase software for Internet protection and services from someone else. Many companies have started to endorse “BYOD” (Bring Your Own Device) by which their employees use their own, public cloud computing services. That is, employees may purchase business software and services from companies such as Microsoft, Apple, or Samsung. Motorola Solutions, for example, has released its own Motorola AME 2000, a dual-encryption smartphone that has the Internet security of a government official.

Let’s say that an employee decides that, under the BYOD program, he or she wants to own the AME 2000 (short for “Assisted Mobile Environment”) to have unbelievable Internet security.

If a corporation allows its employees to pursue their own form of Internet services and security, then the individual would be allowed to purchase the AME 2000, a Samsung smartphone with Knox software for businesses, or an Apple smartphone. Under public computing, the employee can choose his or her own Internet services and security software.

Under private cloud computing, however, the business or enterprise chooses the software and services and forces its employees to comply. This means that, contrary to public cloud computing, companies do not allow employees to bring their own devices; rather, corporations give their employees a set model smartphone and security software installed on the smartphone.

The employee must use the business phone for “business” purposes and must maintain separation between his or her business phone and personal phone.

This is the case with employees at major carriers such as Verizon Wireless, or someone who works for a major corporation like Home Depot. When my cousin left his former carrier to join Verizon Wireless, he was met at the counter by an employee who had an iPhone for Verizon business work and a Motorola Droid smartphone for personal purposes.

While many corporations push a certain model smartphone on their employees, for example, there are others that force a set security software on their employees while allowing their employees to select the hardware they deem worthy.

This is the case with Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who has allowed company employees the right to choose which smartphone they want for business purposes (at company expense) while being forced to adhere to a set business encryption software no matter the smartphone model.

This plan has the benefit of allowing employees to select a smartphone model that they want; if an employee does not like Motorola phones, for example, and does not want the government-encrypted AME 2000, he or she can select the iPhone 5 or Nokia Lumia 920 instead while still retaining the company’s own business software selection.

What are the benefits of private cloud computing? One benefit of private cloud computing is the ability to control your own company network and thus, your employees Internet activities. When employees are using company phones, for example, the company can monitor what they read, watch, and view on company phones.

In other words, employees who use their Internet privileges to watch porn or engage in illegal activities are much more likely to be found, punished, and subjected to humiliation than companies who allow their employees to purchase independent phones that the company has little to no control over.

Not only can companies monitor the activities of their employees; they can also monitor the strength of the company’s Internet network. With company phones, employees can be subjected to the company’s business network (only), and do not run as great of a risk of Internet danger than if each employee has his or her own phone at work.

If a university, for example, allows its students to use only the school’s network to access Internet (and forbids the use of individual student wireless networks), then students can surf the Web in a controlled environment and can be held accountable to the school for somewhat suspicious web activity.

Despite the benefit of control and a watchful eye, however, there are disadvantages of private cloud computing. One disadvantage of private cloud computing pertains to finances.

The reason why many companies today are enforcing “BYOD” has to do more with finances than anything else. Companies are in the cost-cutting mindset today, and look to save pennies (that convert easily into millions of dollars) wherever they can.

If corporations allow employees to bring their own phones, encrypt their own phones, purchase their own Internet securities, and replace their own devices when they break or get damaged, then corporations can budget their funds toward company goals and plans — without compromising on employee happiness.

Many employees do not like the idea of business-enforced phones and encryption services, so many smile with delight when their corporation allows them to purchase their own phones and use them at home as well as at work.

There is a downside to allowing employees to bring their own devices, however: one such drawback is that company secrets and documents and files could (potentially) end up in the wrong hands. This can be illustrated with two examples. One example pertains to Apple’s multi-device syncing feature. This feature allows your iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch to be at the same place (in terms of articles, documents, and other information) at the same time.

If you pause reading an article on one device, you should be able to pick up a second device and continue right where you left off. While Apple’s feature is to be applauded, it also has its security risks: if a child or relative gets their hands on one of the synced devices, he or she could also get access to documents that expose company plans. This means that a company’s security is at risk if employees are allowed to bring their own devices.

Another example is more direct than the first. Apple’s iPhones are the smartphone of choice for businesses, and it seems that Google and Samsung are losing the business battle to Apple (along with tablets, as well). IBM, for example, endorses the BYOD business plan; at the same time, the company has feared the loss of its company secrets due to Siri’s recording of all that she hears.

It is a known fact that whenever someone asks Siri a question, it is recorded in a data warehouse that belongs to Apple.

In all likelihood, the data center of choice is probably the warehouse center found in Maiden, North Carolina, a data center that is said to store all questions that have been spoken to Siri since she went mainstream in the iPhone 4S. In any case, IBM has become wary of Siri and warned its employees to turn off Siri voice command before entering the IBM workplace.

Notice that, while IBM is concerned about its company secrets, it places company security beneath that of its employee costs — so much so that turning off Siri is what’s required for personal smartphones to enter the workplace. IBM could kill Siri’s troubling presence by providing company smartphones; however, IBM would also incur the costs of doing so: which is the last thing IBM is interested in.

The cost of “playing the boss” is to “pay the costs,” and companies and businesses that enforce a private cloud computing process are those that end up being hit where it hurts — in their wallets and company budget. Companies must decide if employee customization, happiness, and purchase power are greater or lesser than company goals, power, and control.

The company that exercises centralized control over its cloud technology will also be forced to rise to the occasion and own up to centralized responsibility should something go wrong.

That is a cost that, for now at least, many companies are not willing to take.