‘Cloud services’ is a term broadly describing services that rely on infrastructure and capability that is accessible over the internet. Such services allow multiple devices to share common data, without necessarily even being able to communicate directly between each other. Both devices do need to be able to communicate with the servers in the network offering the cloud service.
Cloud computing refers to the ability to connect to software and data on the Internet (the cloud) instead of on a user’s own hard-drive or local network.
Embracing cloud computing offers huge potential benefits, not only from a service point of view but also substantial hardware, software, premises and personnel savings for organisations, corporations and government departments.
According to the Open Computing Alliance (OCA), the direct cost benefit over existing systems stems from the commercial opportunity to pay for use as needed, rather than pay for a system designed to meet peak usage where much computing capacity can stand idle for much of the time. There are indirect cost benefits as well, in particular increased workplace efficiency, which will lead to greater productivity.
In 2011, the Australian Government released a draft strategy for a planned move by its major agencies to cloud computing over the next five years. Data security and data sovereignty - having data held on centres within Australia, rather than Singapore or the US - were among a number of factors seen as vital for much government business.