The words Cloud Computing have become very popular recently. What do they really signify?
Cloud computing is a kind of a business model providing IT technologies as services via the Internet. It allows to use software, store data, and manage a company avoiding the necessity to install additional applications on the computer. Thanks to the cloud we can not only use e-mail and social networks but also settle accounts with the contractors, issue invoices, back up files and sell our products from anywhere in the world.
What about the safety of our data in the cloud?
Security standards employed in professional data centres exceed significantly abilities of a single company. Systems which process data have to operate in certain conditions which guarantee their reliability and efficiency. In the case of Comarch Data Center this was achieved by employing, among other things, emergency power supply, UPS systems, fire protection neutral for the servers, and air conditioning which guarantees optimal temperature and humidity for operation of the equipment. The existence of centres in different places provides distributed architecture with a primary and secondary centre. Secondary centre is to ensure the availability of systems in case of failure or damage to the primary centre. The architecture used by Comarch guarantees redundancy of the most important devices and access links. Each centre of Comarch Data Center uses links provided by four independent operators, which minimises the risk of systems unavailability in case of a single link failure. These safeguards guarantee that sending and storing files in the cloud will be safe. Comarch has Data Centers in Poland and in Germany; however, what is important for the Polish clients, all their information is stored in Poland.
What about safeguards concerning the data which is in the cloud, related to the possibility of unauthorised access?
Professional data centres have safeguards protecting data transmissions so that during the transmission (to the cloud, from the cloud, and within the cloud) they were not exposed to sniffing, spoofing or leaking. Normally, there are, for example, encrypted connections which protect the data during transmission. Analogous standards are used for example in online banking.
Does the company have the right to view the customer's data?
Comarch has the right to view the customer's data only to the extend necessary to provide the service and according to the agreement with the customer. Service providers often reserve the right to access a customer's data in order to determine if the content in any way violates the applicable law. However, some services enable data encryption prior to uploading. For example, in the case of iBard24 service, which is used to backup data, the client can locally code files prior to sending them to the cloud. Such configuration gives confidence that no one beside the client will access his data.
What about the question of sharing the data stored in the cloud with third parties?
The scope of disposal of the client's data in each case is clearly stated in the provisions of the agreement concluded between Comarch and the client. The clients' data is not available for third parties if they are not legally authorised.
What are the advantages of using the cloud compared to traditional data storing on local computers or servers belonging to the clients?
One of the most tangible benefits is the reduction of costs. It is related to no entry barrier, no need to buy the license, no investment in the servers and no need to develop one's own IT department. The clients appreciate also mobility thanks to the access to the data from many devices anywhere and at any time. The key advantage is also the higher level of security – professional data centres are usually protected to a much greater extend than servers in a company.
Do the clients who use Comarch Cloud have to use your software or do they have some space for any use?
It all depends on the service the client buys. For example, the offer dedicated to small and medium-sized businesses provides access to financial and accounting software or professional e-commerce tools. In the case of Ibard24 service, which is used to backup and synchronise data in the cloud, the client buys space on a virtual disk and can use it to store any data.
What is the average cost of the above mentioned services?
The clients rent selected software and pay monthly or yearly service charge. For example, access to a simple service used to invoice online can be bought for 95 PLN a year. In the case of a software supporting business management the client buys access only to needed elements for which there are monthly service charges starting form 35 PLN a month. The prices of a professional data backup in iBard24 start from 199 PLN a year. Renting an online shop costs 129 PLN a month. Additionally, businesspersons using Comarch software can tender their products in our online shopping centre for free.
What services do you provide within the Cloud?
Comarch Cloud provides many different services such as, among other things, finances and accounting software, data backup, i.e. a virtual disc in the cloud, e-commerce tools, as well as accounting services. Our clients can use simple services related to online invoicing and software supporting company management. Data backup creates the possibility to make automatic backup copies on servers of a certified data centre in Poland. People planning e-commerce activities can use software which helps to open an online shop quickly and tender goods from their stores. We have created also a network of accounting offices using Comarch ERP software, which, via our company, provides accounting, HR and payroll services for other companies.
When you started to introduce services based on the cloud – how popular was the solution?
Comarch has been providing services based on the cloud since 2000. In recent years we have witnessed development of data processing services in the cloud on the Polish market. The phenomenon is especially strong in the case of small and medium-sized businesses. Such companies are the natural recipients of cloud-based solutions. Using the public cloud model small and medium businesses have more control over expenses and the possibility to spread the payments over time. Studies show that 75 percent of Polish companies are interested in cloud solutions, thus the future of this technology looks very bright.