Cloud computing is the delivery of computing services over the Internet. Cloud services allow individuals and businesses to use software and hardware that are managed by third parties at remote locations. Examples of cloud services include online file storage, social networking sites, webmail, and online business applications. The cloud computing model allows access to information and computer resources from anywhere that a network connection is available. Cloud computing provides a shared pool of resources, including data storage space, networks, computer processing power, and specialized corporate and user applications. Characteristics The characteristics of cloud computing include on demand self service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity and measured service. On demand self service means that customers (usually organizations) can request and manage their own computing resources. Broad network access allows services to be offered over the Internet or private networks. Pooled resources means that customers draw from a pool of computing resources, usually in remote data centres. Services can be scaled larger or smaller; and use of a service is measured and customers are billed accordingly. Service models The cloud computing service models are Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). In a Software as a Service model, a premade application, along with any required software, operating system, hardware, and network are provided. In PaaS, an operating system, hardware, and network are provided, and the customer installs or develops its own software and applications. The IaaS model provides just the hardware and network; the customer installs or develops its own operating systems, software and applications. Deployment of cloud services: Cloud services are typically made available via a private cloud, community cloud, public cloud or hybrid cloud. Generally speaking, services provided by a public cloud are offered over the Internet and are owned and operated by a cloud provider. Some examples include services aimed at the general public, such as online photo storage services, email services, or social networking sites. However, services for enterprises can also be offered in a public cloud. In a private cloud the cloud infrastructure is operated solely for a specific organization, and is managed by the organization or a third party. In a community cloud the service is shared by several organizations and made available only to those groups. The infrastructure may be owned and operated by the organizations or by a cloud service provider. A hybrid cloud is a combination of different methods of resource pooling (for ex ample, combining public and community clouds). Potential privacy risks While there are benefits, there are privacy and security concerns too. Data is travelling over the Internet and is stored in remote locations. In addition, cloud providers often serve multiple customers simultaneously. All of this may raise the scale of exposure to possible breaches, both accidental and deliberate. Concerns have been raised by many that cloud computing may lead to “function creep” uses of data by cloud providers that were not anticipated when the information was originally collected and for which consent has typically not been obtained. Given how inexpensive it is to keep data, there is little incentive to remove the information from the cloud and more reasons to find other things to do with it. Security issues, the need to segregate data when dealing with providers that serve multiple customers, potential secondary uses of the data these are areas that organizations should keep in mind when considering a cloud provider and when negotiating contracts or reviewing terms of service with a cloud provider. Given that the organization transferring this information to the provider is ultimately accountable for its protection, it needs to ensure that the personal information is appropriate handled. Conclusion Cloud computing offers benefits for organizations and individuals. There are also privacy and security concerns. If you are considering a cloud service, you should think about how your personal information, and that of your customers, can best be protected. Carefully review the terms of service or contracts, and challenge the provider to meet your needs.