The way technology is being an integral part of our lives, Cloud computing is the new normal. Be it business or personal, be it any geography, domain, size of business – everyone is moving towards the cloud. The way Internet was the normal then, cloud-based services and applications are the gen-next now!
With cloud computing, you can connect almost everything digitally. It empowers you to access computing resources like databases, applications, storage etc. through the Internet. Looking at the demand of the cloud, there are increasing number of service providers like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, IBM Cloud, Alibaba Cloud etc., offering a variety of cloud-based services. Let us have a look at all aspects of cloud computing, in details.
Cloud Computing – An Overview
Cloud computing is the on-demand availability of computer system resources, especially data storage (cloud storage) and computing power, without direct active management by the user. – Wikipedia
Cloud computing offers a perfect combination of varied computing services like networking, servers, databases, intelligence, storage, analytics – all through the Internet for better results, resource utilization and faster execution of activities. The best part is that you only pay for the services that you avail, assisting you in lessening your budget load and increasing your scalability. The pay-as-you-go pricing model is the key USP of a cloud-based model. Technology services can be availed as needed instead of having to buy and maintain the infrastructure.
Businesses, worldwide, have started making the best use of cloud computing for different use cases such as backup and disaster recovery, software development, virtual desktops, personalized interaction, big data analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), AI, ML, Deep Learning and much more. Cloud computing offers a range of functionalities like data analysis, email, storage, audio/video streaming, software on demand, creation, and testing of applications.
How Does Cloud Computing Work?
Cloud computing works through cloud-based applications that either execute on browsers or through mobile apps. You simply open the browser or app, log in and start functioning. Different types of applications like cloud-based CRM, collaboration through documents with Google Apps, Video conferencing through software like Skype, sales, and customer functionalities through third party software can work perfectly in such environments.
Types of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing offers different models and types based on the requirement. Each type of cloud computing model has its share of significance that makes it unique. Here are they:
- Public Cloud – It is managed by third party cloud-based service providers in which they offer different computing resources through the Internet. For e.g., Microsoft Azure is a public cloud. All related infrastructure elements are managed by the cloud provider. They can be availed via a web browser.
- Private Cloud – It focusses on cloud computing resources that is managed through a single organization. It could be located on the organization’s onsite data center. It can even be hosted on the cloud service of third-party segments. The entire infrastructure is maintained on a private network.
- Hybrid Cloud – It perfectly merges the goodness of public and private cloud, facilitating a smooth flow of data and applications between components. It offers high-end flexibility, better returns, optimization of infrastructure, increased security.
- Multi Cloud/Hybrid Multi Cloud – Multi Cloud refers to the utilization of two or more clouds from different cloud providers. It makes use of multiple cloud services simultaneously, possibly from a single vendor or from different ones. The hybrid multi cloud makes use of more public clouds along with private clouds. It includes the SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS services. It is ideal to prevent vendor lock-in and increase visibility.
Kinds of Cloud Services – The Cloud Computing Stack
Software as a Service (SaaS) is an approach to offer software application through the Internet, as needed, based on subscription. With the help of this model, service providers provide hosting and manging of the application with the current infrastructure. It does not call for any software upgrades or security hassles. Users can directly connect through the Internet with the help of their devices.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a fundamental section and basic building block of cloud-based services. In this model, users can rent the necessary IT infrastructure, servers, machines, networks, operating systems etc. from the service provider. Payment can be done as per the infrastructure rented, i.e. following the pay-as-you-go model.
Platform as a Service (PaaS) talks about cloud computing services that offer an on-demand infrastructure to develop, deliver and test software applications. It makes things easy for developers for faster creation of apps. It helps in easy management of infrastructure including databases, servers, network etc. It eliminates the need for developers to manage the infrastructure, making them focus more on their real work of deployment and implementation.
- Serverless Computing
Serverless computing deals with creation applications without having to waste time over infrastructure management. The service provider manages the entire setup including servers, capacity planning, resources, networks etc. It offers a great deal of scalability, utilizing the resources as needed, making it easy for developers to manage.
Salient Features of Cloud Computing
What is it that makes cloud-based services an ideal approach to leverage technology? Here are the key features that prove its worth:
- Amount of flexibility, vast storage space and scalability for infrastructure
- On demand self-services for multiple purposes with effective resource utilization
- Cost effectiveness with charges applicable as per demand and usage, with appropriate scaling of infrastructure
- Minimal start off in terms of infrastructure, spending, resources etc.
- Measured and reporting services
- Fast elasticity of available resources and other infrastructure elements
- Access to a large network area
- Competence of a service to recover quickly from any disruption
- Resource pooling and automated system
Key Advantages of Cloud Computing
Going by the above features, here are certain evident benefits that cloud computing offers to the world, no wonder why it is so popular and reigns among the top technologies globally:
- Less IT costs – Since the cloud empowers offloading most of the costs involved in the purchase, installation, and management of infrastructure, it turns cost-effective for the organization
- Self-service computing – Users can themselves, work on the data that they need or calculation of parameters such as network storage, server time etc. There is not many dependencies on IT section for availing information.
- Enhanced agility – It becomes easy for organizations to implement enterprise-level applications in no time, thereby, increasing the overall efficiency and agility. It empowers users to self-serve their needs with ease.
- Effective use of resources and pay as needed – Business owners can limit the usage of resources and ask for just those resources that are needed. This can also bring down the costs since you use the pay-as-you-use model.
- Elasticity and Scalability – Cloud gets in more of elasticity, flexibility, and scalability to choose whatever is needed and thereby avoid unnecessary costing. It is effective for users to ensure a global spread.
- Flexibility to Migrate – Since all data is stored on the cloud, migrating from one application to another or from one infrastructure to another becomes easier, more secure, and more effective.
- Larger network access – Users can access data from the cloud anywhere, anytime, anyplace, and hence it is easy for them to expand their network globally.
- Multi-tenancy – This advantage of cloud computing empowers users to share the same infrastructure with ease and with related privacy. This brings about collaboration and less cost incurrence.
- Productivity and Performance – Cloud-based services remove many redundant tasks, automating services and hence productivity increases big time. Users can focus on their own work area with efficiency, and this brings about a boost in their performance, leading to increased organizational efficacy.
Why is Cloud Computing So Much in Demand?
Cloud computing has been a much-in-demand technology owing to the above-mentioned salient features and advantages. But the last two years have catalyzed the implementation of this wonderful technology. Since the pandemic struck, there has been a rush of users depending more on the Internet and the cloud.
Huge amount of information that has been generated by organizations has been managed through the cloud with ease, with the least physical involvement of infrastructure. The scalability feature of the cloud has helped users manage their environment as per need, maintaining the social pandemic norms. Since then, users have not looked back to avail the support of cloud computing platforms.
Challenges Faced During Cloud Computing
Though cloud computing has been a successful technology, there are certain hurdles that must be attended to. Here are they:
- Security of information has been a concern since all confidential information lies on the cloud
- Storage of encrypted information must be maintained well else users may lose out on the key
- Maintenance of storage servers and saving them from any type of disasters or attacks
- Usage of the pay-as-you-go model may lead to costs that may not be identifiable at a stretch
- Access to skilled resources may be challenging since not everyone really knows how to operate the cloud at its best
- Compliance to industry rules and regulations may get tough as users are self-reliant and hence may overlook the standard norms
- Cloud based data maintenance and migration may not be as smooth as it looks since there are so many other factors that must be considered beforehand
- Maintaining vendor lock-in is another hurdle since organizations may keep moving between different service providers, leading to instability in performance
Is the cloud safe? That is a prime question that comes to our mind as we leave all our confidential information at the mercy of the cloud. The digital era has exposed much of our information to the world and that is where users are sceptical of the security issues with cloud-based services. Yes, the concern is right but at the same time, it is manageable and achievable.
If certain standards are met and certain regulations are ensured, the cloud can be a safe place for your data. Here are some best practices that organizations going in for cloud computing must abide with:
- Data sharing and ownership between customer and service provider must be well defined and clear
- Data must be properly encrypted with complete control over security keys and modules
- There must be detailed user identity and access management with a complete understanding of the infrastructure-related details
- Clear, collaborative, and transparent communication must be ensured between the security team, IT department, users, and management
Cloud computing surely is seeing a bright future because of its salient features and benefits. Tomorrow will show newer features of the cloud that will be leveraged by one and all, around the globe. Choosing the right kind of cloud computing model is important and can be done by evaluating different parameters like budget, project deadlines, compliance rules and regulations, skilled resource availability etc. Choose any, there is a lot in store in the world of cloud-based services!