Cloud 101: Behind the technology

| 24 Oct 2014
cloud computing

Over the past 10 years, cloud computing has grown from an indefinable concept to an essential operating tool for organisations around the world. As cloud becomes more prevalent in the aged care sector, iCareHealth aims to provide its readers with a clear understanding of what cloud computing means and how it will change the face of aged care. In part two of our cloud blog series, we explain the technology behind cloud computing and what it will mean for your business.

Cloud computing is a way for businesses – like aged care organisations – to use software and access and store data online; without having to install software or use their own servers.Organisations can implement cloud through three different models, depending on their needs. These are known as cloud deployment models and consist of private, hybrid and public cloud. Private cloud refers to cloud infrastructure that is designed purposely for a sole organisation, like a residential aged care facility. One of the benefits of using the private cloud model is that it allows greater control over tools and software, compliance and quality of service. However, private clouds do not suit all businesses, as they require the purchase and maintenance of all infrastructure, which can necessitate large financial and staff resources to implement and maintain.

Public cloud on the other hand, is where both services and infrastructure are run by large, trusted, external third parties that specialises in cloud services, such as Microsoft and Amazon. A good way to think about public cloud is in reference to a public utility. A utility, such as water, is provided to a large group of people for a fee, with the water company handling all of the logistics. This strategy is comparable to how public cloud operates, and is the model most likely to be utilised by the aged care sector. This is due to the small financial and resource investment required from aged care providers, and the efficiency provided by sharing resources. While cloud computing may still seem like an abstract concept to some providers, many would already be using programs hosted on the cloud, such as Microsoft Office 365 and Xero accounting software. While some organisations have previously been hesitant to use the public cloud due to safety concerns, examples of companies successfully using public cloud securely – such as the Australian banking sector hosting their websites in the cloud – has caused that fear to diminish. In fact, the strength of security around public cloud is often much better than an individual organisation can achieve, with companies like Amazon and Microsoft spending millions of dollars on security each year.

The final cloud deployment model is hybrid cloud, which is a composition of the private and public cloud computing models. Organisations may choose this model to suit their different needs, such as using a public cloud based email system, while storing more sensitive data on a private cloud. Often this model is used in two ways, either by organisations who operate a private cloud, but rely on public cloud when they require extra capacity, or when a business uses a public cloud, while operating a private cloud for a particular application that must be stored privately. This ability to tailor hybrid cloud based on an organisations requirements is seen as the major benefit to this model, however – like private cloud – hybrid are complex and necessitate time, staffing and financial costs that are beyond many smaller aged care providers.

Technology aside, the main benefit to cloud computing is the ability to do things quickly, and with a lower total cost of ownership. As the aged care sector develops through funding, regulatory and population changes, it’s integral providers stay informed about how cloud can benefit their business, workers and those they care for. Stay tuned to the iCareHealth blog, because next time we’ll weigh up the top cloud computing benefits and concerns from the aged care sector, and look at what cloud really means for your organisation.

Which cloud deployment model is your business utilising?

Tags: aged care, assistive technology, cloud, cloud computing, cloud technology, residential aged care, software

Sophia Bolden

Communications Coordinator

Sophia Bolden is the Communications Coordinator at iCareHealth. With a background in the disability and aged care sector, she brings an understanding and passion for aged care. Sophia recognises the importance of social media and online communication in relating technology and aged care news in the most effective way possible.

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