A cloud is an internet service that provides storage space, but also application software or computing power, without the user having to operate these functions or programs locally – a cloud is usually available online on the internet. It can therefore be accessed from any computer in the world. This makes it particularly interesting for companies that want to network intensively with their business partners and need secure access to their data from different locations – as it is often the case in global e-commerce. There are also company-internal cloud infrastructures.
Among the numerous cloud solutions, the following are the most relevant for companies in e-commerce:
Private clouds for company-specific applications. To ensure data security, these clouds can only be accessed internally, e.g. via a non-public network such as the intranet. Private clouds can be set up for the entire workforce (enterprise cloud) or for different departments (departmental clouds). The costs here lie with the company, since the hardware is also located at the company.
Public clouds are services made openly accessible via the internet. Certain standardized structures are stored here that the registered user can access. Payment depends on the degree of utilization.
Hybrid clouds combine the advantages of private clouds for internal company data with the possibilities of public clouds. The cost distribution here depends on the system used.
Community clouds are a special form. They are collectively used by a selected group of people, e.g. for cooperatives or companies with a joint cooperation. The costs are shared among the users.
With cloud technologies or cloud computing, all trading partners can access the same IT database.