What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is a way to deliver IT resources and make it accessible at a low cost. The IT resources provided include computing power, database storage, applications to name a few. The users pay as they go. There is no need to make large investments upfront for the hardware or its maintenance. There are web-based tools that give these resources as opposed to a direct connection to any server. The files are no longer stored on a hard drive or any other form of local storage. Cloud computing makes it possible to save them on a remote database, also known as the cloud. All the user needs is access to the web to be able to retrieve the data from the software.

Why Use Cloud Computing?

Storing data has become a priority now in all fields. There has been an unprecedented rise in mobile and computer users in the last twenty years. Businesses both large and small in scale thrive on data and they need accessible storage at a low cost. Not all companies can afford to spend the large amount that goes into buying and maintaining hardware. Strong IT support and a large storage hub become a necessity.
Cloud computing comes as a more affordable alternative. There is efficiency in data storage, less maintenance and computation costs in investing in cloud computing. There is no need for the high-priced IT infrastructure anymore.
The only thing needed by the user is to run their cloud computing software, which can be as simple as their web browser. The cloud servers take care of the rest. It may sound really advanced and complicated, but each one of us has had some form of interaction with cloud computing software. For example, when you check your email on your desktop, the data gets stored on a cloud server instead of your computer. This is the basic technology behind a cloud server. This infrastructure is invisible. Cloud computing has been this successful because it is extremely user-friendly and functional at the same time. An individual can access and use cloud computing software without having any technical knowledge on what goes on in the back-end.

History of Cloud Computing

In the 1960s, when the era of technology had just begun, the mainframe and terminal application had a lot of client-server infrastructures. The reason for this is the cost of data storage. To reduce the expenses, the mainframe connected both types of terminals and served them to a small client-sized terminal, therefore increasing the storage capacity as well. These file servers gained popularity with the evolution of mass storage capacity because they stored large amounts of information.
When the internet got connected to enough computers in 1990, the machines came together to create a big pool of storage. A single institution could not afford this. The concept of ‘grid’ computing was introduced then. Grid computing is often confused to be synonymous to cloud computing, but the two are different.
Grid computing uses application programs to divide one large processing system. This large system processes to several smaller systems. The confusion arises because both computing processes require a connection with a lot of computers. The main disadvantage of grid computing lies in this itself. If even a single part of the software fails, all the other pieces may fail as well. It was like a domino effect. This is why the grid computing process was not a success.
Cloud computing includes the concept of ‘Grid’. But it gives on-demand resource provisioning. Salesforce.com coined the term in 1999. Salesforce.com was the pioneer in delivering computer applications using a single website. Three years later, in 2002, Amazon came up with the next breakthrough in cloud technology. Amazon’s Web Services (AWS) provided cloud-oriented services to its users. These services include storage, computing power and human intelligence using the Amazon Mechanical Turk. Again, in 2006, Amazon launched EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud). EC2 is a commercial web service platform that let small businesses rent computers to run their applications. It was the first accessible cloud technology infrastructure service.
After this, in 2009, Google came out with Web 2.0. Google and other companies started offering browser-based technologies to their users. This was done via apps. After that was Microsoft Azure, which is still considered to be one of the top deliverers of cloud computing technology. Google and Microsoft both deliver their services in a way that are reliable and easy to consume, making them popular.

What are the Cloud Computing Services?

There are three major cloud computing services:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS)
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Software as a Service

SaaS or Software as a Service is a model where the software or applications are distributed over the internet. They are hosted by service providers and are made available to users anywhere in the world. SaaS technology supports Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) or Web Services, making it an increasingly used delivery model.

Before software had to be purchased upfront and then installed on to your computer. Now, instead of purchasing the software, the users generally subscribe to it and use it online. The payment is usually on a subscription basis, where users have to pay a nominal fee every month. SaaS is compatible with all devices that have internet enabled. A lot of important tasks such as accounting, invoicing, planning, and sales can be performed using SaaS.

Platform as a Service

PaaS or Platform as a Service provides developers with a platform to build their own software. This service can be accessed by users via the internet. It is hosted on the cloud. One can build their own personalized applications and services using PaaS.

People who benefit from PaaS the most are software developers, web developers, and businesses. PaaS constantly has new updates and features added, while supporting application development. It includes software support, management services, storage, networking, testing, and maintaining applications as a part of its special features.

Infrastructure as a Service

IaaS or Infrastructure as a Service provides access to computing resources over the cloud on the internet. You can gain access to server space, network connections, load balances, bandwidth and IP addresses using PaaS. The hardware is extracted from multiple servers and networks. They are distributed across many data centers. Infrastructure as a Service is a complete package for computing.

Small-scale businesses benefit most from IaaS. They can cut cost on IT infrastructure. By using IaaS a lot of the expenses on external storage devices and network connections can be avoided.


Types of Cloud Computing

There are three types of cloud computing options available for use:

  • Private Cloud
  • Public Cloud
  • Hybrid Cloud

Private Cloud

Private cloud services can be used for intra-business work. The cloud computing services are given to just one organization. This means the computing service is owned and operated by one company.

Public Cloud

Business to customer (B2C) interactions usually requires public cloud services. In a public cloud type computing system, the system is owned, operated and governed by the government, an academic or a business organization that handles business to customer interactions.

Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid cloud services can be availed by both business to business (B2B) or business to customer (B2C) type of organizations. This is possible because of the computing resources available are bound together by different clouds.

Future of Cloud Computing

Many industry experts in the IT world have come up with their predictions on where the future of cloud computing is going to lead to. Some of their views are:

Michael Corrado, World Wide Marketing Manager with Hewlett Packard Enterprise

“The future of cloud computing will most likely represent a combination of cloud-based software products and on-premises compute to create a hybrid IT solution that balances the scalability and flexibility associated with cloud and the security and control of a private data center. The variable element of this Hybrid IT future and the most compelling use for cloud will be the software companies that offer their products only as cloud solutions which will diversify a customer’s cloud needs to multiple platforms based on their preferred software vendors.”

Matt Riley, CEO & Co-founder of Swiftype

“A decade from now, every business will be operating primarily from the cloud, making way for more flexible — yet more productive and efficient — ways of working. Hardware won’t be the problem in a decade — software will.”

Tom Gillis, Founder & CEO of Bracket Computing

“The future of the cloud is a radically different hybrid cloud computing model in which isolated workloads can flex up or down, span multiple public clouds, be moved at any time, and be managed with a single set of controls. Enterprises have struggled to build an IT infrastructure that is responsive enough to move at the speed of business. The future of cloud computing is a unique architecture based on the Computing Cell that consistently provides best-of-breed software infrastructure, including encryption, authentication, network segmentation, data integrity and data management across multiple public clouds.”

Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Alphabet, Google’s Parent Company

“The amount of innovation we will see in the next five years will exceed all the innovation we’ve seen in all prior years. The platform is not the end, it is the bottom. Machine learning is on top and will be the technology that will drive the transformation. NoOps will become mainstream. Serverless architectures will be the next wave of computing.”

Predictions made by Forrester Research

  • The total global public cloud market will be $178B in 2018, up from $146B in 2017.
  • The cloud market will continue to grow at a 22% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).
  • Public cloud platforms will be the fastest growing segment.
  • The public cloud platform market will generate $44 billion in 2018.
  • AWS, Google, and Microsoft will have 76% of all cloud platform revenue in 2018. This will rise to 80% by 2020.
  • SaaS vendors compete more at platform level. Their services will run portions on Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP) or Oracle Cloud in 2018.
  • SaaS vendors shall have to deprioritize platform efforts and reach a global scale.
  • This will happen due to the increased demands for application customization. This will take place along with the convergence of digital technologies such as IoT and AI.
  • Salesforce wants to focus on platform capabilities.
  • These capabilities should enable Artifical Intelligence (AI) and the development of its Lightning platform, Cloud, and Salesforce’s growing Einstein solution.
  • Workday is investing in its platform with an increased number of features.
  • Salesforce and Workday will both need a broad public cloud platform. This platform should be capable of scaling fast so that it can support global deployments.
  • Global deployments are one of the primary factors leading Salesforce and Workday to choose Amazon AWS. This trend will accelerate with other SaaS vendors in 2018.

Other Trends to Watch out for in Cloud Computing

Increased Growth in Cloud Services

Due to the easy accessibility and the user-friendly nature of cloud computing, most operations will soon move to the cloud. Another reason for this is the expansion of services across the public and private sector with PaaS and Saas.

An Increase in Cloud Storage Capacity

A big reason for the shift to cloud computing is the amount of storage the cloud provides. This is beneficial to both individuals and companies because they do not have to spend a lot on hardware for storage. Most data servers will soon be online with larger storage capacity. Businesses storing their information on the cloud leads them to be able to conduct a better analysis of the consumer market, which in turn only helps them grow.

The Growth of Internet of Everything

Most people know Internet of Things, but are unaware of Internet of Everything. With the rise in usage of cloud computing, there will be exponential development in Internet of Everything (IoE) as well. IoE is heavily dependent on machine to machine interactions, data processes and how humans interact with the technology that is around them. IoE simplifies all these interactions.

The Rise of 5G and Improved Internet Access

Since everything is on the cloud and all the data is only accessible through the internet, the speed will also improve. 5G will soon be launched and that is only a stepping stone into the age of the internet. The high quality of expectations and usage that users have with the internet, companies will better connections to help improve their quality of service as well.

Cyberattacks and Security Challenges to the Cloud

2017 had the most number of cyberattacks recorded in the history of the internet. This means there will be improved security features in cloud computing. Cloud computing can combat the nuanced cyberattacks many companies and organizations face by providing them with enhanced cloud-based security solutions.

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