Last updated:

February 7, 2017

What is cloud computing?

Cloud computing is a technological service which involves the retrieval of information assets from the internet through web-based tools and applications.  Under older forms of technology, data and software packages have been stored in servers. By contrast, cloud computing structures allow access close access Definition Refers either to the process of providing records for researchers to use in PROV reading rooms, or to the process of determining if records should or should not be withheld from researchers for a period of time. to information as long as an electronic device has access to the web. This type of system close system Definition Information system which captures manages and provides access to records through time. A system may be manual or automated and includes the processes, procedures and business rules required to operate it. allows employees to work remotely.  

Cloud computing services are broadly divided into three categories: 

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) IaaS allows developers maximum interaction with the underlying server infrastructure including, but not limited to, deploying back-office applications on that remote environment.
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) PaaS is geared towards developers who wish to deploy applications in the cloud and don't want to get involved with the server infrastructure. The Google apps store close store Definition To place a record in a storage area or storage facility. is just one example of this service.
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) SaaS refers to an end user accessing a remote product or e-commerce service over the Internet. These could include a remote CRM such as Salesforce or a data centre offered by Amazon Web Services.


Decision-making for cloud computing

Victorian government agencies are moving many of their services and/or storage close storage Definition The process involving placement and retention of data and documents for subsequent use. of data into cloud environments.  

In choosing cloud solutions, agencies should be mindful of their obligations with respect to public sector data. Records should only be stored in a cloud environment that complies with all Victorian legislation and policy.  Agreements with vendors should include clauses that protect agency close agency Definition Any department, agency or office of the Government of Victoria data.

Your agency should focus on selecting providers and services that can deliver quality outcomes in their treatment of your agency’s data.

In choosing a provider or service, consider the following factors:

  • data security and protection
  • data privacy
  • where relevant, data confidentiality
  • ability to execute authorised and complete destruction of data
  • can prevent unauthorised disposal
  • the longevity of the systems within the cloud
  • data integrity close integrity Definition The integrity of a record refers to its being complete and unaltered. and completeness, including maintenance of metadata
  • data authenticity, and the ability to audit/demonstrate it
  • protection of copyright and proprietary interests in data
  • data retrievability (while in the cloud) and extractability (if the service is discontinued).

See Cloud Computing Decision Making Guideline for further information.