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Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing Notes for DISA, CISA

Cloud computing refers to the delivery of computing services, including servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence, over the internet (on the cloud).

It provides users with access to computing resources and services without the need for significant infrastructure investments.

Therefore, Cloud computing is a method for delivering on-demand access to computing resources over the Internet. Rather than maintaining your own physical servers and data centers, you have the option to lease(rent) these resources from a reputed cloud provider like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform.

Key Features – Cloud Computing

Here are some key points about cloud computing:

  • On-demand availability: Cloud resources are available whenever you need them, allowing for greater flexibility and scalability.
  • Pay-as-you-go pricing: You only pay for the resources you use, which can help to reduce costs.
  • Managed services: Cloud providers handle the maintenance and upkeep of the infrastructure, freeing you up to focus on other tasks.
  • Scalability: Cloud resources can be easily scaled up or down to meet your changing needs.
  • Security: Cloud providers offer a variety of security features to protect your data.

Origin (History) of Cloud Computing

The origins of cloud computing technology go back to the early 1960s. J.C.R. Licklider, an American computer scientist, is often credited as the “father of cloud computing” in the 1960s.

He envisioned a world where interconnected computers could provide on-demand access to data and programs, regardless of location. This concept laid the foundation for the future of the internet and cloud services.

Amazon Web Services launched cloud-based storage and computing services in 2002. Four years later, in 2006, it unveiled Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), enabling users to rent virtual computers for their applications. The same year, Google introduced the Google Apps suite, now known as Google Workspace, offering a range of SaaS productivity applications.

In 2009, Microsoft released its first SaaS application, Microsoft Office 2011. According to Gartner, global end-user spending on public cloud services is expected to reach USD 679 billion this year and is forecasted to surpass USD 1 trillion by 2027.

Types of Cloud Computing / Service Models

There are several different types of cloud computing services available, including:

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS):

This type of service provides virtualized computing resources over the Internet. Users can rent servers, storage, and networking resources on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

This type of service provides a platform for developing, deploying, and managing applications.

PaaS provides a platform allowing customers to develop, deploy, and manage applications without dealing with the underlying infrastructure. Examples include database services, development tools, and business analytics services.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

This type of service provides access to software applications over the Internet on a subscription basis. Users can access the software through a web browser without needing to install or maintain it.

Deployment Models

1. Public Cloud

Services are offered over the public internet and available to anyone who wants to purchase them. The infrastructure is owned and operated by a third-party cloud service provider.

2. Private Cloud

Computing resources are used exclusively by one business or organization. It can be physically located on-premises or hosted by a third-party provider.

3. Hybrid Cloud:

Combines public and private cloud models. It allows data and applications to be shared between them, providing greater flexibility and deployment options.

4. Community Cloud

Infrastructure is shared by several organizations with similar computing needs. It may be managed internally or by a third-party provider.

Benefits of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing offers a number of benefits for businesses and individuals, including:

1. Cost Efficiency (Reduced costs): Cloud computing can help to reduce the costs associated with purchasing and maintaining hardware and software. Pay-as-you-go model reduces upfront costs and allows organizations to scale resources based on demand.

2. Scalability and Flexibility: Resources can be scaled up or down quickly, enabling businesses to respond to changing requirements.

3. Reliability and Availability: Cloud providers often offer robust infrastructure with redundancy and failover capabilities, leading to improved uptime and reliability.

4. Security: Cloud providers invest heavily in security measures to protect data and infrastructure, often providing better security than many organizations can afford on their own.

5. Global Accessibility: Cloud services can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, enabling remote work and collaboration.

6. Innovation: Cloud computing enables rapid innovation by providing access to cutting-edge technologies and services without requiring heavy upfront investment.

The Cloud’s Double-Edged Sword: Impact on Audits and Auditors

The advent of cloud computing has brought about significant changes in the field of auditing, presenting both advantages and disadvantages for auditors. Let us explore the effects on audits and auditors:

Advantages for Audits:

1. Enhanced Efficiency: Auditors now can access real-time data stored in the cloud, regardless of their location. This eliminates the need for physical data collection and manual reconciliation, resulting in time and resource savings.

2. Improved Analytics: Cloud-based audit tools can analyze large volumes of data more efficiently, enabling auditors to gain deeper insights and conduct a more comprehensive audit process.

3. Streamlined Collaboration: Cloud platforms facilitate collaboration between auditors and clients by offering a central repository for sharing documents and communication.

4. Continuous Monitoring: With real-time data access, auditors can perform continuous audit procedures, which offer a more holistic view of an organization’s financial well-being.

Benefits for Auditors:

Focus on Strategy: With increased efficiency, auditors can allocate less time to gathering data and dedicate more time to assessing risks and offering valuable strategic insights.

Upskilling Opportunities: The emergence of innovative technologies such as cloud analytics necessitates auditors to acquire new proficiencies, thereby making the profession more adaptable and prepared for the future.

Improved Work-Life Balance: Access to cloud services facilitates flexible work arrangements, allowing auditors to work remotely and potentially achieve a better work-life balance.

Challenges for Audits:

Data Security: Data breaches and unauthorized access to cloud-stored financial information pose significant risks. Auditors must remain highly cautious and need to be extra vigilant about data security measures implemented by cloud providers to prevent data breaches and unauthorized access to financial information stored in the cloud.

Vendor Lock-in: Over-reliance/dependence on a specific cloud provider can make it difficult to switch in the future, potentially limiting options and flexibility. Auditors should be mindful of this and consider the potential difficulties in switching providers.

Audit Trail Challenges: Auditing activity logs in the cloud can be complex, requiring auditors to develop new techniques for tracing transactions and maintaining a clear audit trail.

Challenges for Auditors:

Skill Development (Enhancement): Adapting to new cloud-based audit tools and procedures requires ongoing training and skill development for auditors.

Regulatory Compliance: Auditors need to stay updated on evolving regulations concerning cloud-based accounting and data storage to ensure compliance.

In conclusion, cloud computing offers great opportunities for the auditing profession. By leveraging its benefits and managing associated risks, auditors can optimize the efficiency and quality of the audit process.

List of Reputed Cloud Service Providers

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Google Cloud (GCP)
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Adobe Creative Cloud
  • IBM Cloud
  • OpenStack
  • Oracle Cloud
  • Panorama9
About Shubham Anand

Shubham Anand, the founder of TaxWinner.in, is a Chartered accountant, law graduate and personal finance & technology enthusiast. He loves writing about taxes, personal finance, tax planning, the latest technology, and much more. With a passion for technology and the intricacies of personal finance, he believes that financial literacy is the ultimate life hack.

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