What is Cloud computing?
Cloud computing refers to the technology whereby the internet is used for the storage and management of data on remote servers. The data stored in the cloud can then be accessed through the internet. It is a system of software that allows accessing the shared networks of storage, servers, and applications over the internet. The system allows the remote working of the users. It is one of the growing markets in the world which is estimated to increase from $67B in 2015 to $162B in 2020 attaining a CAGR of 19%.
Why is cloud computing important?
Earlier the companies and organization’s had to use hard drives and servers to store all their data. Further, if the company is large, the data storage capacity has to be bigger. However, the way of data storage and management was not scalable. Cloud computing is a breathtaking innovation of the 21st century drawing the attention of every organization and business. It has quickly been adopted into mainstream technology. Further with the development of smartphones and devices for accessing the internet, cloud computing has been well adopted into organizations.
Cloud computing has been beneficial even for average persons. Software programs can be run without having the need to install them on the local computers, the multimedia contents can be stored and accessed over the internet, and programs can be developed and tested without the need of having servers. People are using the services offered by the cloud every day. From using services like updating status on social media, or binge over a new streaming series, etc. these are applications hosted by the cloud. All the applications could be accessed through the internet rather than installing on the devices.
Cloud computing is required in the present age because of the numerous problems that are encountered by organizations and at the personal level. Several benefits are associated with the application of cloud computing. Companies can accelerate their growth and innovation, streamline operations and reduce the cost. Even though a crisis, cloud computing might be a solution to help the companies propel through the crisis leading to sustainable growth.
A series of cloud computing examples have been described below.
1. Scalable usage
Through the development of a subscription system, cloud computing offers several scalable resources. The payment is to be made only for the computing resources used by the user. Therefore, there is no need to permanently invest in computer hardware.
An example of scalable usage is Netflix. It has been using the potential of cloud computing to its advantage. The demand for streaming services led to increasing server load at peak times. But, the movement of in-house data centers to the cloud normalized the problem without having the need to invest in the setup and maintenance of costly infrastructure.
With the expansion of cloud computing facilities, user preferences could be stored. Therefore customized solutions and products can be provided based on the user preferences and behaviour.
Examples of chatbots are Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant. These services provide personalized context-relevant customer experiences.
3. Software as a service
The most well-known application of cloud computing is Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). The products of SaaS distribute the data online. These data can then be accessed through a browser from any device. The SaaS delivers applications over the internet as a service. Through simple internet connectivity, users can access the services without the need for installation or maintenance of the software in the user’s computer. This helps the user from making himself engaged in complex hardware and software management. The SaaS applications are sometimes referred to as Web-based software, on-demand software, or hosted software. It runs on a server from the SaaS provider who manages the access, security, availability, and performance of the application.
Cloud computing has proved to be beneficial for medical professionals as it enables them to access information, perform analytics and do the diagnostics remotely. With the application of cloud computing, there is an easy and safe sharing of medical records and the creation and maintenance of telehealth apps. Some of the companies providing the streamlining of operations and improving patient care are Netapp through the real-time clinical data, Medsphere healthcare and IT services, etc.
5. Platform as a service
The Platform as a service is a type of cloud computing model that provides the users with simple to sophisticated cloud-based apps. It is one of the popular choices of businesses where no financial investments are required for creating unique applications. The resources are purchased from the cloud service provider which can be accessed through the internet on a pay-as-you-go basis. The basic infrastructure of PaaS includes servers, storage, and networking. Along with these, it consists of development tools, Business Intelligence (BI) services, and database management services. The cloud-based service provides the users with all the virtual resources including development kits, applications management, and database tools for building, and launching their software applications. Therefore, the developers can focus on the creative side rather than writing complex codes or managing software updates, or security. Google App Engine, SQL servers, and web servers are some examples of Paas.
The application of cloud-based systems has benefited the institutions of higher learning. A lot of services free of charge have been provided by Google and Microsoft to staff and students in different institutions. A few of the cloud computing examples in education are:
- Virtual classrooms for students have become a possibility with the development of cloud-based software. It reduces the cost of infrastructure to a certain extent. Further, skilled trainers can be contacted remotely which could serve as cost-effective resources.
- Due to the easy accessibility of the cloud-based data, access to the course content, applications, and data have been an easy process.
- There is an extensive benefit in the reduction of costs as the students no longer have to invest in expensive books as the resources are available in the cloud. Also, the infrastructure cost reduces too.
- The data stored in the cloud by the organizations can be secured through the VPN. The VPN protocol allows the automatic encryption of the outgoing data and traffic.
- Learning facilities provided by the cloud have developed the ability to experiment faster and frequently.
7. File Sharing
The file-sharing options provided by the cloud allow the users and organizations to easily store and access files on the service. Cloud file-sharing provides access to the file data in the cloud by multiple users. Individuals and businesses have outsourced their data storage to off-premises data centers. A few of the top cloud computing examples in file-sharing services are Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, Amazon WorkDocs, Filecloud, etc.
8. Big Data Analysis
A large amount of data is generated from the organizations which need to be stored in the cloud for easy storage and management. With the development of cloud computing, the organization’s data can be viewed and analyzed for specific patterns, finding correlations, prediction of future outcomes, and making decisions. With the presence of sophisticated tools and high processing power, the mining of a massive amount of data is made possible by cloud services. Hadoop, Cassandra, HPCC, etc. are some of the examples of open source big data tools based on the cloud.
9. Business Process
Cloud-based services are finding applications in many business management applications like customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP). SaaS has become an important method for enterprises. Salesforce, Hubspot, Marketo, etc. are popular examples of this model. It is an efficient and cost-effective method providing hassle-free and secured maintenance of the organization’s critical business resources.
A cloud deployment model is a virtual working environment with the amount of data required to be stored and who has the access to the infrastructure. Depending on what type of services are required by a business, Cloud computing can be deployed accordingly. It is always essential to choose the right one from various types of deployment models available.
The various types of deployment method offered by the cloud are:
1. Public cloud
As the name suggests, the public cloud can be accessed by the public. These are best for those organizations with growing and fluctuating demands. Also, for companies having low-security concerns, the public cloud is the best solution for them. The cloud service provider is paid for the services it offers like networking services, computation, and storage on the public internet. For developers, a public cloud is an ideal place for development and testing.
A few benefits of public cloud are:
- The public cloud is ideal for businesses requiring quick access to resources. Also because of the pay-per-use facility of the cloud, no upfront cost is there.
- The cloud service providers provide the entire infrastructure without any setting up of hardware locally.
- There is no requirement for an in-house team to manage the infrastructure as it is available over the cloud.
2. Private Cloud
The private cloud refers to the services provided by the cloud over the internet to only a selected number of users rather than the public. It is also known as the internal or corporate cloud. The businesses are offered the benefits of self-service, scalability, and elasticity. A high level of security and privacy is provided by the private clouds through company firewalls and internal hosting. It ensures that no third party is accessible to the operations and the sensitive data. Two models for cloud services can be delivered in a private cloud i.e. infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and platform as a service (PaaS).
A few benefits of private clouds are:
- Privacy of the data: due to the access of the data from only authorized personnel, the private cloud is ideal for storing corporate data.
- Security: Better access and security can be obtained from the segmentation of resources within the same infrastructure.
- Legacy system: This model supports legacy systems that cannot access the public cloud.
3. Hybrid cloud
Hybrid cloud denotes the type of cloud model generated from the combination of two or more clouds. The combination of public clouds, on-premises computing, and private cloud in the data center means a hybrid cloud infrastructure. The hybrid cloud may contain:
- At least 1 private cloud and at least 1 public cloud
- 2 or more private clouds
- 2 or more public clouds
- A bare-metal or the virtual environment connected to at least 1 cloud—public or private
The hybrid networks are formed when the environments of separate clouds connect. This interconnectivity is the main reason for the working of the hybrid cloud and its foundation in edge computing. The interconnections directly impact the working of a hybrid cloud.
The benefits of a hybrid cloud include:
- Decrease in the overall cost as the data is majorly stored in the public cloud.
- There are lesser chances of data theft as the data is properly segmented.
- The high level of flexibility offered by the hybrid clouds allows businesses to create customized solutions that fit their requirements.
4. Community Cloud
A community cloud is a hybrid form of private cloud, but only a specific set of users are allowed to access the data rather than the public. The main purpose of the model is that multiple users should work on joint projects and applications that belong to the community. Therefore, centralized cloud infrastructure is necessary. Communities include business organizations, research companies, etc. that focus on similar issues.
Benefits of community cloud include:
- Compared to the private and public cloud, the community cloud model is much cheaper giving a great performance.
- Protocols of a community cloud must align with the industry standards. Therefore, customers are allowed to work more efficiently.
- Reduced cost: Payment has to be made as per the usage of the services. Therefore, the initial and recurring expenses are much lower compared to the traditional computing methods.
- The cloud-based system has the capacity to store and maintain large volumes of data.
- The services provided by a cloud-based system are highly flexible.
- The cloud system is scalable i.e. payment can be made based on the amount of storage.
- The services provided by a cloud system can be deployed quickly. Hence the resources required for the system can be accessed within fewer minutes.
- The backup and recovery of the data stored in the cloud are quite easy.
- Software integration occurs automatically.
- The cloud system helps in accessing the latest applications without investing money in the installations.
- Users in remote areas can get easy access to cloud services through an internet connection.
- The cloud system offers limitless storage capacity. With nominal monthly fees, the storage capacity can be expanded.
Cloud computing has become a popular choice for individuals and organizations with the passing days because of its high number of benefits. As discussed above in the various cloud computing examples, cost reduction is the most important benefit that organizations are enjoying. Therefore, it is more towards the business that’s on focus rather than the data centres with the application of cloud computing.
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