Cloud Computing is a combination of technologies both, hardware and software that form a network to deliver the on-demand services over the internet. Traditionally, hardware and software are fully contained on a user’s computer and you can access your data and programs exclusively within your own computer.
Cloud computing provides you access to your data and programs outside of your own computing environments such as applications, databases, email and file services rather than storing it on your personal computer or server. This means you can use online services that are generally available through any device with an internet connection irrespective of the user’s location.
However, users of cloud services are not actively involved in the management of the network. It’s like renting a server space or access to the software or IT requirements from a cloud service provider and connect over the internet.
The Cloud is everywhere these days and changing the way we conduct business and interact as a society. The significance of cloud computing is increasing exponentially, especially because of the innovations in virtualization and distributed computing, as well as improved access to high-speed Internet, have accelerated interest in cloud computing.
One can imagine the implementation of cloud computing in companies like Alibaba, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. It provides better data storage, data security, flexibility, increased collaboration between employees, and changes the workflow of small businesses and large enterprises to help them make better decisions while decreasing the cost.
It is clear that utilizing the cloud is a trend that continues to grow. According to the Gartner forecast, the cloud computing market is expected to grow 17.3% in 2019 which is $206.2 billion. Further, in this report, 90% of the organizations will be using cloud services by 2022.
Cloud computing can be of private or public and have three distinct characteristics in terms of different access and security options that differentiate it from traditional web hosting. A private cloud is a proprietary network in which provider supplies hosted services to a limited number of people. On the other hand, the public cloud provides services to anyone on the internet such as web service provided by the Amazon. The goal of cloud computing is to provide easy, scalable access to computing resources and IT services.
Before you move your data into the cloud, you will need to consider which model works best for your business and data needs.
Let’s discuss the types of cloud computing in little detail.
1) On-demand: Paying for only the resources you use. Typically by the minute or the hour.
2) Elastic: A user can have as much or as little of a service as they want at any given time.
3) Managed services: Fully managed by the provider (the consumer needs nothing but a personal computer and Internet access)
Types of Cloud Computing
IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)
IaaS is the most basic service of cloud computing. It provides basic physical infrastructure and facilities to the organization such as IT-infrastructure, hardware, OS, network, storage capacity, etc. with remote servers in the cloud. It’s like buying or renting your computer and space from an external service provider.
The service provider also takes care of the maintenance and services of your IT-infrastructure including CPU processing, memory, data storage, and network connectivity. It saves the organization office space and large hardware investments.
Additionally, it is easy to scale up or down and you only pay for what you use. This option allows you access through a private network or over the internet. A good example of the IaaS provider is Amazon Web Services, Google Compute Engine, Microsoft Azure, and Cisco Metapod.
PaaS (Platform as a Service)
Organizations that require on-demand environments for developing, testing and managing their software applications generally go for PaaS providers.
PaaS providers provide these pre-setup platforms to the organizations as per their requirements. It’s like renting or buying a crossover of SaaS and IaaS, essentially the hardware, operating systems, storage, and network capacity, as well as the software servers and application environments. Organizations do not need to invest in building and maintaining the architecture of the platform. It is the package of both, infrastructure, the building blocks that are required for creating an application and the services, to control over the technical aspects of your computing setup and the ability to customize to suit their needs.
It offers more control over the technical aspects of your computing setup and the ability to customize to suit your needs. It allows them to build, run and manage applications by themselves, without too much complexity making it faster to assemble an application than with traditional software building. Some of the examples of PaaS providers are Windows Azure, Google App Engine, Apache Stratos, Heroku, and AWS Elastic Beanstalk.
SaaS (Software as a Service)
Software as a Service (SaaS) also known as on-demand software is ready-to-use applications that can be accessed online via subscription. It is the most common form of cloud computing for small businesses.
SaaS applications run directly from a web browser or mobile app and do not require local installation, but this is not a requirement. The cloud service provider is responsible for the process of deploying, hosting, managing as well as controlling and maintaining the application, including software updates and settings of the underlying infrastructures. Many SaaS providers provide ready software applications on a subscription basis on the internet. Users have limited control over the application and configuration settings. You can access internet-hosted software applications using a browser, rather than traditional applications stored on your own PC or server. Examples of the SaaS provider are Google Apps, Cisco WebEx, Salesforce, Citrix GoToMeeting, and Workday.
Perhaps you use one of the above services and have never realized that these are cloud computing services.
Let’s talk about some of the advantages of using cloud computing services.
The could computing services free yourself from large capital expenditure, especially the IT-infrastructure. There are no huge costs of the hardware in cloud computing. You just have to pay as you operate it and enjoy the model based on your subscription plan.
24 X 7 Availability
Cloud service providers are truly reliable in offering their services, with most of them maintaining uptime of 99.9%. They can get onto the applications needed basically from anywhere. Some of the applications even function off-line.
Flexibility in Capacity
It is a highly customizable solution for every enterprise as per their specific requirements considering all aspects such as security, flexibility, and scalability, etc. You can set up what is essentially a virtual office to give you the flexibility of connecting to your business anywhere, any time. It offers a flexible facility that could scale up or scale down your operation and storage capacity requirements quickly as per the circumstances of the user.
Automated Updates on Software
Cloud service providers regularly update your software including the updates on security, so that you do not need to agonize on wasting your crucial time on maintaining the system. You find extra time to focus on the important things that are more important for the growth of your businesses.
Cloud computing offers greater security than traditional storage. As the data is stored in the cloud, it can be easily accessed even if something happens to your computer. You can even remotely wipe out data from the lost machines for avoiding it getting in the wrong hands.
Added to the security feature of cloud computing is the encryption of data being transmitted over networks and stored in databases. By using encryption, information is less accessible by hackers or anyone not authorized to view personal data.
Cloud computing is helping the environment to reduce carbon footprint by powering virtual services rather than physical products and hardware and cutting down on paper waste. Organizations utilize only the resources they need, which helps them to avoid any over-provisioning. Hence, no waste of resources and energy and carbon footprint.
Additionally hosting on the cloud is more environmentally friendly and results in Cloud infrastructures support environmental pro-activity A research report predicted that hosting on the cloud will drop energy consumption by 31 percent from by 2020 by the adoption of cloud computing and other virtual data options.
Another benefit of cloud computing is enhanced collaboration among the group of people who can virtually meet and exchange information with the help of shared storage. This helps in improving the customer service and product development thus reducing the time to market.
Control on the Documents
Moving to cloud computing has also facilitated central file storage. Traditionally, the worker used to send files in and out as email attachments for being worked on by a single user at one time ultimately ending up with a mess of contrary titles, formats, and file content.
It offers simplified and enhanced IT maintenance and management capabilities through central resource administration and managed infrastructure. You get to enjoy a user interface without any requirement for installation.
Facilitated Expansion and Acquisition Activities
When there is some major expansion plan or acquisition activity going on in an enterprise, cloud computing can be used to merge together the data of the firms without any hassle. For traditional computing, the application may take years for migration and decommission before the data centers run on one IT stack.
Not investing in the cloud computing solution means all of your valuable data is resides inseparably into the office computers. This may not seem like a problem, but the reality is that if your local hardware experiences a problem, you might end up permanently losing your data and all of the information you had saved locally. With a cloud-based server, however, all the information you’ve uploaded to the cloud remains safe and easily accessible from any computer with an internet connection, even if the computer you regularly use isn’t working. Furthermore, cloud-based services provide quick data recovery for all kinds of emergency scenarios, from natural disasters to power outages.
While cloud computing is increasing in popularity. A recent study showed that 77 percent of businesses feel cloud technology gives them a competitive advantage. However, there are still those who prefer to keep everything local. Doing so places you at a distinct disadvantage when competing with those who have the benefits of the cloud at their fingertips. Implementing a cloud-based solution before your competitors will give you an advantage further along the learning curve by the time they catch up with you.
Cloud computing offers great advantages of working from anywhere across the globe, as long as you have an internet connection. Even while using the critical cloud services that offer mobile apps, there is no limitation of the device used. This leads to a decrease in the number of servers, cost of software license and staff. Thus, reducing the overall IT cost significantly without disturbing the enterprise functioning.
With cloud technology, enterprises do not have to spend on facilities, hardware, licenses, and other operational costs. But, in traditional storage and processing techniques, there is additional cost involved along with the maintenance cost. It offers greater data security, loss prevention, competitive edge, the flexibility of work, and enhanced collaboration. Further to these advantages, it plays a vital role in reducing the carbon footprints by reducing the physical products and saving on energy. It also offers integrated cloud analytics for a bird’s-eye view for better control of your data. With your information stored in the cloud, you can easily implement tracking mechanisms and build customized reports to analyze widespread organization information.
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Also check: Cloud-based applications development