Before we delve any deeper as to what how biometric technology can be deployed into The Cloud, we must first have a basic understanding of what The Cloud is about. For example, we have heard the likes of Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, Google Drive, Apple iCloud, etc.
But how is it defined? In its simplest terms, The Cloud is essentially taking all of the information and data you have stored on your local hard drive and moving it to the storage disks of a trusted third party, such as that of an Internet Service Provider (ISP).
Another way of looking at it, is you are simply using the Internet to access all of that information and data located in a different environment. There are many advantages to this process, which are as follows:
If your business is one with extreme dynamic data sets, The Cloud can provide you with the ability to either scale up or scale down your storage needs in just a matter of seconds. This is also referred to as “operational agility.” In other words, IT assets can either be deployed or taken away according to the exact needs of the corporation.
- Disaster recovery
In today’s cyber threat environment, all corporations (no matter how large or how small) must implement a disaster recovery plan. Using the traditional methods can be very cost-prohibitive and time-consuming. But when your data and information are all backed up in The Cloud, you can restore all of that to your local servers in just a matter of a few minutes.
- No capital expenditures
The Cloud possesses a unique trait known as “resource pooling.” With this, economies of scale regarding both hardware and software can be realised. This simply means that you do not have to worry about any licencing fees, downloading and installing any software patches, or even upgrading any server hardware. All of this is done at the ISP. Also, with The Cloud, the IT staff from a corporation can work from anywhere in the world, thus saving even more on tight budgets.
- A predictable pricing regime
Because of the advantages of resource pooling (as described above), using the assets in The Cloud comes at a very affordable price. For example, software which costs thousands of dollars to acquire can be procured for a fraction of that cost by using The Cloud. This allows for the Chief Information Officer (CIO) to have a fixed and predictable monthly price for the IT assets which have been allocated.
The components of biometrics in The Cloud
The premise behind biometrics in The Cloud is to have the entire platform (which includes the servers, software applications, databases, etc.) outsourced to a third party, namely the ISP. All that the corporation has to do is to purchase the required biometric hardware (such as the fingerprint recognition systems, iris recognition systems, etc.).
Keep in mind that a large, biometric technology implementation in a corporation can be a very costly endeavour. For instance, there are project management and consulting fees, expenses related to the deployment, wiring, and networking of all of the biometric devices to the central server(s), costs related to software development applications, and even the hidden costs of training employees to properly use the new biometric system.
Therefore, the goal of a biometrics in The Cloud is not only for a corporation to take advantages of all of the strategic benefits as outlined in the previous section, but to also provide an enhanced means of security which is so gravely needed. Such a regime consists of three main segments, which are as follows:
- The Infrastructure as a Service (also known as the “IaaS”);
- The Software as a Service (also known as the “SaaS”);
- The Platform as a Service (also known as the “PaaS”).
The Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
The IaaS can be viewed as the core platform for any biometrics in The Cloud infrastructure. In other words, with the exception for the biometric devices themselves, it is at this level where the entire biometrics infrastructure resides.
At this regime, it is completely virtualised, consisting of two primary components:
- The virtual server
This is where all of the databases will be located which store and house the enrolment templates. Also, the mathematical algorithms which are used to process the transactions between the enrolment and verification templates will be located here as well. The biometrics infrastructure will also need to possess an operating system, whether it is Windows or Linux based, and will reside here as well. From here, the IT or security administrator can then access the entire virtual server and make any modifications or enhancements as necessary through the use of the control panel.
It is this level also where the network connectivity will be established from the biometric devices to The Cloud-based biometrics infrastructure, and vice versa. For example, if an iris recognition device were to be used, it would be mounted on a special aperture. From this point, the network connection would then be established to the virtual server, via the control panel. Thus, if an end user started the enrolment process, the iris recognition device would capture the multiple images, create the composite image, extract the unique features, and create the enrolment template. But rather than storing it on the device itself, it would be transmitted from the device to the database in the virtual server with the network connectivity configured from within the control panel. Therefore, it will be very important for each Cloud-based biometrics infrastructure to possess its own IP address, to specifically distinguish it from other infrastructures stored at the ISP.
Our next article will examine the Platform as a Service (PaaS) and the Software as a Service (SaaS).