The Cloud – What is it?

As we’ve seen in previous posts, many organizations across countless industries are turning to the Cloud Computing model to validate their Quality Management Systems. To gain a full appreciation of this movement and to see how it can potentially benefit your organization, it’s important to know just what characterizes the Cloud model and what makes it unique.

Traditionally, companies have owned and operated their Quality Management System using their own resources – an in-house IT department and fully owned, on-premises computing resources. However, given the increasingly sophisticated nature of QMS software and the high cost of specialized talent capable of managing, maintaining and upgrading it, firms are adopting the Cloud model is becoming an appealing alternative.

The three players

The Cloud model features three main players: the customer, the software provider, and a middle level participant, the cloud provider. The provider’s function is to manage the infrastructure and all responsibilities associated with it for the customer, in its own location, typically known as a data center. For a fee, the customer is relieved of the burden and cost of looking after the infrastructure piece of the QMS puzzle.

Cloud service models

There are three ways that companies can buy cloud services:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS) – The most typical model where the customer uses the software provider’s applications running on the cloud provider’s infrastructure.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) – The customer creates or acquires applications using tools from the software provider and deploys them onto a cloud infrastructure.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – The customer “rents” processing, storage, networks and other cloud infrastructure from a cloud provider on which it can deploy and run any software.

For most customers, the big change that comes with moving to the Cloud model is the transfer of their applications, data, servers and associated computing components to another organization. Let’s call these assets the Qualified Infrastructure.

Cloud deployment models

There are four Cloud models into which the Qualified Infrastructure can be deployed:

  • Private Cloud – Used only by one customer, it is managed by the customer on premise or by a cloud provider.
  • Community Cloud – Used by multiple customers, it is managed by a cloud provider in support of a community with shared concerns.
  • Public Cloud – Shared by many customers and managed by a Cloud provider.
  • Hybrid Cloud – Two or more clouds that remain unique entities but are connected by technology that allows data and applications to be shared between them.

To learn more about QMS validation in the Cloud, download our free Definitive Guide on the subject today.


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