Cloud computing is a term that refers to computer systems, networks, and services that are hosted remotely and made accessible to users through internet technology. When working with cloud-based technologies for the first time, it can be difficult for a person who has extensive experience in traditional IT architecture to grasp how this technology works. Cloud computing is all about how people use and access computers from anywhere at any time from virtually any device. The concept of the cloud meant more than just knowing more about the cloud itself. It also means you will need to understand how workflows work in this new reality, whether you are looking internally or externally.
Cloud computing can be challenging to conceptualize. The true architects of the cloud cannot always put it into words. It is often best to think of it as a new way for companies to gain access to previously difficult or even impossible resources to secure and manage. Cloud computing is not a new concept; the word has been around since at least 1985 when the first online services were served by using remote computer terminals connected through internet-like networks. The idea behind cloud computing can be as simple as providing users with a readily usable database system that enables them to “pull” data from anywhere on the Internet without having any local storage space locally when they are finished with the database.
A company considering cloud computing should understand how they want to use the cloud and should also have a good deal of what they need out of the cloud. Cloud computing is a new way to deliver IT solutions and provide new ways to run a company’s business. A primary benefit driving companies toward cloud computing is the cost savings that can be realized. There are costs associated with implementing any new technology. Still, many companies find that these costs are significantly lower than an in-house solution’s maintenance and management costs.
Other advantages are gained from cloud computing as well, such as:
However, these advantages come with some challenges to consider before moving forward with this solution. First, it is essential to understand and agree on the desired result before implementation. Cloud computing can be an excellent solution for many business needs, but all businesses are different. Multiple factors affect a cloud’s adoption rate, such as technical expertise and available budget. This can translate into determining whether or not cloud computing is the best fit for a company’s needs.
A crucial step in selecting a type of cloud is determining how you want to use it to get the most out of it and how you will go about controlling access to your data and applications. Understanding how to use cloud technologies requires understanding what resources they provide and what they don’t provide. To narrow down the list of possible cloud services to investigate, determine your cost concerns by deciding how much you can afford to spend in terms of additional staff time, technology and licensing costs, and security. When researching various cloud computing vendors, consider the expertise of the vendor’s staff; you must understand who you are working with as a company.
When selecting a specific type of cloud for your business needs, begin by evaluating what is implemented in your current IT environment. Suppose there is a large amount of data stored on servers at different locations. In that case, examining where those files are stored may provide insight into the type of overall architecture you currently have. From there, look at the communication paths and protocols you currently use. Is your network now segmented into different zones? If it is, what are your primary communication lines and protocols?
The type of cloud you decide on will depend upon several factors. The first factor is what kind of cloud model do you want to implement; do you want to build your private cloud or a hybrid model that combines on-premises IT with third-party-based cloud computing? Another consideration could be whether or not you wish to host your data in the U.S., Europe, or Asia; this will help determine where and how long it takes for specific files to reach their destination.
Once you have determined what type of cloud service you would want to implement, it is essential to consider the various services offered by a cloud. These services include data center infrastructure, security and identity access management, data backup/restore, load balancing, and disaster recovery. There are multiple benefits to utilizing these different types of cloud-based services. For example, if you were looking for a data backup service, the company providing the service would likely be responsible for deduplicating large amounts of redundant data and moving only the necessary files. This saves valuable storage space and increases the user’s access to applications.
Fundamental components of cloud computing are:
Today, most businesses have a longstanding, intimate relationship with the IT department, so there is a good deal of reluctance to embrace unconventional concepts such as cloud computing. There are many benefits that businesses can reap from adopting cloud technology, but there may also be some drawbacks. One of the main obstacles in implementing cloud technology is that it requires any company to reexamine its IT infrastructure to benefit from this innovative platform. Cloud architectures have fundamentally altered how business is done and are disrupting traditional business models by allowing companies to access their data from any internet-enabled device at any time. This type of technology is often misunderstood and met with a good deal of reluctance and uncertainty by the business community.
Properly handling cloud migration can be difficult, but many steps can ease the transition. Identifying the stakeholders who will participate in the process can help reduce confusion and make communication easier. Stakeholders should include members from various departments within the company, as well as representatives from IT as well. Before beginning a cloud migration, an organization should first have a plan for what needs to happen for things to go smoothly. A cloud migration plan should outline the steps taken to move data, applications, and services to a new cloud.
Several usability issues accompany the implementation of any new technology, and cloud computing is no exception. When implementing any new technology into the workplace, there is a good deal of uncertainty about how it will impact productivity levels or workflow; this holds true for businesses that have invested heavily in their existing IT infrastructure. Another challenge with cloud computing is ensuring that newly implemented applications can be supported by an existing IT infrastructure and effectively incorporated into an already-established environment. This can be difficult because cloud technology is meant to be used to supplement an existing infrastructure, not a replacement. However, making the transition to cloud computing can have plenty of benefits for a business as considerable savings can be realized through utilizing resources that are currently being paid for but are not being used effectively.
In recent years, the movement towards cloud computing has attracted much attention from investors and venture capitalists due to its phenomenal revenue growth. Cloud computing revenue grew at the accelerated rate of 45.5% in 2010 and is expected to grow by 35% in 2011. The rapid growth that this technology is experiencing has made it very appealing to potential investors who see great potential in cloud technologies. Investors see cloud computing as a game-changing technology that will profoundly impact the way business is done.
Cloud computing has proven to be one of the most innovative technological advancements of the past decade and has helped businesses reduce costs and increase efficiency. Cloud computing is already being used by many large corporations worldwide in order to address computing needs. Still, it is also being used by smaller companies and startups who have not yet been able to justify implementing expensive IT solutions. With more and more businesses embracing cloud technologies, the future looks bright for this innovative platform.
“Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.
The NIST definition above highlights three main characteristics of cloud computing:
On-demand self-service: A consumer can unilaterally provision computing capabilities, such as server time and network storage, as needed automatically without requiring human interaction with each service’s provider. This is achieved using cloud software which automates the process.
Broad network access: Capabilities are available over the network and accessed through standard mechanisms that promote use by heterogeneous thin or thick client platforms (e.g., mobile phones, laptops, and PDAs).
Resource pooling: The provider’s computing resources are pooled to serve multiple consumers using a multi-tenant model, with different physical and virtual resources dynamically assigned and reassigned according to demand.
In summary, cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. The cloud model comprises five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models.
The History of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing has been around for many years before it became famous and recognized as a revolutionary technology. In the late 1960s, the time-sharing concept was first proposed by computer scientists in order to share expensive mainframe computers with consumers. The time-sharing model allowed multiple users to use the computer’s processing power at the same time. It was also known as “interactive computing.” In 1970, IBM released its first commercial product in this market: IBM’s Remote Terminal Service (RTS). RTS allowed users to access the central computer via a remote terminal and used telephone lines for its transmission medium. The first internet service provider (ISP), EarthLink, was established in 1994. The first commercial ISP was to offer Internet access via telephone modems over dial-up connections.
In 2001, Amazon pioneered cloud computing when it launched its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) services for hosting applications on its own hardware infrastructure, using the network topology of the Internet as opposed to a private local area network (LAN). EC2 employed a utility computing framework and charged consumers only for their use of virtual servers, giving them the ability to scale up or down their usage. It was also the first computing platform to use pay-as-you-go pricing. In 2006, Jérôme Segura and CondeNet created a code for EC2 as a free software named Cloudlets, which became the first SaaS platform. The introduction of Amazon EC2 spawned what we know today as cloud computing.
The initial goal of cloud computing was to expand the potential market for software and services by enabling access from any Internet-connected device. However, it didn’t take long before companies began to realize the benefits of storing data in a secure way in the cloud and began incorporating this functionality into their business practices. This led to the rise of cloud storage services, which are computer software applications that enable users to upload and store data on a remote server where it can be accessed from anywhere.
For example, Dropbox is one of the most popular cloud storage services that allow users to access their files from any location through the Internet. There are many other similar platforms, such as Google Drive, Box, and Microsoft SkyDrive. The number of companies turning to cloud computing for both storage and processing is growing as organizations realize the benefits of storing data offsite in a secure manner that can be securely accessed from any location.
The year 2007 was a landmark year for cloud computing. On March 7, Microsoft publicly announced Azure, its own private cloud services that are designed to be simple and easy to manage. Shortly after this, Google also introduced its own cloud-computing service when it launched Google App Engine to developers in beta on June 24, 2008. This marked the first public use of the term “cloud” in the context of hosting applications and was also the first time that an application programming interface (API) had been released alongside a product offering.
Over the years, several cloud-computing platforms emerged. Apart from the above-mentioned, other popular platforms are Salesforce AppCloud and VMware vCloud. Although many companies have recognized the business value of cloud computing, there is still a lot of confusion around what it actually means and how it works. Cloud computing is not just one technology but a combination of several technologies that work together to provide different business solutions and services. Some of these technologies are listed below:
The underlying foundation for cloud computing revolves around virtualization technology. This refers to the abstraction of computer resources in such a way that they can be accessed and used independently from a physical location or physical limitations. Virtualization allows users to benefit from many of the same features that are available on dedicated hardware, such as virtual disks, virtual network interfaces, and virtual processors. Virtualization is also an efficient way to run multiple operating systems at the same time. It provides a layer of abstraction between the underlying hardware and the operating systems running on top of it. This allows for greater management efficiency and flexibility in the allocation of computing resources as well as enabling maximum utilization of existing hardware.
Instead of having to choose what type of server will be needed for a particular application or service, cloud computing allows organizations to purchase what they need when they need it. Resources can then be added or removed quickly and easily over time-based on changing needs. The main reason for this is that virtual servers are not contractually bound to an organization and can be provisioned or de-provisioned whenever necessary.
Cloud computing also allows organizations to pay monthly based on usage. This is a big difference from traditional infrastructure, where the up-front costs of hardware, software, and services are very high, often exceeding initial investment in the physical server itself. Virtualized resources in the cloud are not on a fixed contract but can either be rented out or purchased on an as-needed basis.
One of the benefits of cloud computing is that capacity can be scaled up or down as needed without having to worry about having enough capacity for future growth. With cloud computing, companies are able to outsource all their servers and storage. The cloud service provider then manages the servers (CSP). When a company needs more capacity, it can just increase the number of resources that it leases or buys from the CSP. Likewise, when the number of customers or the amount of data to be stored declines, the CSP takes care of reducing the number of resources being used. This is typically referred to as elasticity.
Cloud services also eliminate over-provisioning by allowing for more efficient use of resources. Instead of having to pre-allocate resources to cover the peak capacity requirements, cloud services rely on demand-driven choices. This provides a more cost-effective solution since customers only have to pay for what they actually use. In addition, cloud providers can offer different server configurations and sizes based on each customer’s particular needs.
Cloud storage is a group of remote servers that store data on behalf of individuals and organizations. These remote servers are available on-demand over the Internet, which means that users can access their stored data at any time from anywhere in the world through the Internet.