DECODING THE BASICS OF CLOUD COMPUTING

“The cloud has become the next-generation supercomputer, and the smartphone has provided the revolution to spur its use.”

Jerry Yang, Founder of Yahoo!

The world of Information technology is constantly bursting with innovative and upcoming ideas of cutting-edge technologies. With this rise, it becomes overwhelming to constantly be updated on the latest technology. Most of us are not fully equipped to understand the nitty-gritties of every launch.

Cloud Computing can be one such technology that has emerged as the next big thing in the IT world. Most of us are unknowingly using cloud services like online banking, social networks, Dropbox, emails.

Cloud computing in simple terms is defined as a type of Internet-based computing, where different services including servers, storage and applications are delivered to an organization’s computers and devices through the internet. Google’s Gmail is one such Cloud Computing provider. Gmail clients can access documents and applications facilitated by Google through the web from any gadget.

Gone are the days when data was simply stored on a computer’s local hard drive. The data in the cloud is stored on numerous physical and additionally virtual servers that are facilitated by a third-party service provider. The most common cloud computing file storage provider is Dropbox. Dropbox files can be accessed from any device via the Internet.

To understand this technology better, let’s have a look at some of the key features of Cloud Computing:

Cloud computing is an on-demand service like pay per click (PPC) that has secured its position in corporate data centers. The cloud enables the data center to operate like the Internet and computing resources to be accessed and shared as virtual resources in a secure and scalable manner.

There are some important concerns that one should not avoid before relying on the service. One of them is choosing the accurate form of Cloud Computing:

Cloud Computing Service Models:

  • SaaS (Software as a Service) allows developers and organizations to use business specific applications developed by third parties allowing vendor to host both the application and the data, making the end user free to use the services from anywhere.

Types of services provided – email, inventory control, data base processing.

The service level coverage provided includes – application uptime and performance.

Some examples – Office 365, Google Apps, Salesforce, Citrix GoToMeeting, Cisco WebEx, Netflix.

  • PaaS (Platform as a Service) provides users with software development tools that are hosted on a cloud provider’s infrastructure.

Types of services provided – cloud storage, integration.

The service level coverage provided includes – environment availability, environment performance and non-application coverage.

Some examples – Google App Engine, Windows Azure, Force.com, AWS Elastic.

  • IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) provides users with networks, storage, virtualized servers and systems software that gives all the functionalities of an entire data center.

Types of services provided – cloud storage, virtual server.

The service level coverage provides includes – virtual server availability, time to provision and no-platform or application coverage.

Some examples – Amazon Web Services (AWS), Cisco Metapod, Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine (GCE).

Major Cloud Solutions:

  1. Public Cloud Solution is shared by thousands of customers worldwide and is available to anyone on the Internet. Benefits include – easiest and most cost-effective cloud strategy to employ.
  2. Private Cloud Solution is either propriety network or a data center that provides hosted services to just a single customer. Benefits include – no restrictions of network bandwidth, security vulnerabilities and legal concerns that utilizing a public cloud might encompass.
  3. Hybrid Cloud Solution allows you to keep all of your secure data in a private cloud setting, while getting high usability of mobile and web-based access to corporate applications. Benefits include – combination of a public and private cloud, has advantages of both so considered best of both worlds and it is ideal for a bulk of businesses.

“I don’t need a hard disk in my computer if I can get to the server faster… carrying around these non-connected computers is byzantine by comparison.”

Steve Jobs, Late Chairman and Co-Founder of Apple

As stated in 2016 ITA Cloud Computing Top Markets Report, India boasts of 250 million people with web-connected devices, which generally rely on cloud services for applications and other functionality, the key drivers are faster internet penetration and smartphone adoption rates.” It is also expected that high rates of spending on cloud services in India will continue through 2019 when the market is expected to reach $1.9 billion.

Cloud Computing can therefore, bring out a new ray of hope for Indian SMEs (Small Medium Enterprises). But before an organization decides that it will embrace cloud computing, it needs to make sure that it understands all the implications of this new offering.

Let’s have a look at some of the benefits of Cloud Computing that will not only aid individuals but also the business sectors:

Along with understanding the benefits, the business risks must also be evaluated. There are some shortcomings to cloud computing, specifically in online storage and client applications. For instance, an organization operating cloud computing to host its email, calendars, document editing and other applications can be shut down, if a cloud hosting company experiences downtime. The other aspect to lookout for is security, that could be breached. As in the case of any other technology, cloud computing is also not foolproof.

Barring some of the limitations, cloud computing has the potential to change the way organizations view and deal with IT needs. As the private and government sectors incessantly look for ways to cut expenses, cloud is an approach that needs to be evaluated.

With the new cloud technologies growing exponentially, there will be a day when we will all be using Cloud Computing and In-house IT hosting as well as desktop computing may become a thing of the past.