Nowadays, we find most of the technologies moving to the cloud. Its not just a craze of cloud – most of the traditional software models and technologies have adopted cloud or technologies based on the Internet over the last 10 years. Looking to growth in the use of cloud, upcoming decade of cloud computing expands to new possibilities using mobile devices.
So what does cloud computing mean? Basically, it is a technology over which computer programs and data can be outsourced. Cloud services allows users to access software, applications and data from wherever they need. The host of this outsourced product is a third party providing cloud services. It means, users have to forget about storage and power required for storing and accessing. They can just rely on cloud services without worrying about power and storage.
■ Cloud computing history in detail
• Origin of cloud computing can be found back in the 1960s, when industry of computer realized that computing can be provided as a service on a large scale and its benefits. But, at that time, computing lacked in connectivity such as internet and bandwidth required to provide computing as a service. The practical implementation of this computing service was possible after broad availability of internet bandwidth in the 1990s. The first implementation of this was SaaS. AWS which came in 2002 provided similar services including storage and computation. Today, this technology has reached to the level where databases, machine learning and other such services are available. Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and other service providers joined AWS to provide such cloud based services to the individuals, small businesses and large enterprises globally.
■ Life in the absence of cloud computing
• Earlier business applications and software were very complicated and costly. Variety of applications had different software and hardware requirements to install and run such programs. Also, a team was required in order to install, update, configure, test, run and manage them, which made them more expensive. So it was quite common to find most of the large enterprises and businesses not getting apps or software meeting their requirements. While medium and small scale businesses can’t even afford to install such services.
■ What are the reasons for growth in Cloud Computing?
• One of the biggest reason for growth in Cloud Computing is internet bandwidth. The internet became more and more fast along with the time. It has become wirelessly fast similar to internet wired in home or offices. We are getting the latest broadband with 3G and 4G technologies. Some security concerns were internet security standards and protocols to be strong enough that CEOs feel safe to export their huge data over the internet into someone else’s hands. But now everyone realized that ability to outsource the hardware and software for providing services has savings potential, such services based in internet have quickened. By 2018, NASDAQ expects that investments in main strategic areas such as big data analytics, security, cloud technology, enterprise mobile will increase to more than $40 million.
• Architecture of Cloud
* Architecture of cloud is a complex system involving number of software systems working together with multiple cloud components connected with an ability to communicate with each other for the delivery of cloud computing. It has loose coupling mechanism such as messaging queue.
• Cloud engineering
* Applying engineering ethics and disciplines of cloud computing is called cloud engineering. Cloud engineering helps to develop high-level concerns such as standardization, commercialization and governance in conceiving, operating, maintaining and developing cloud computing systems with a systematic approach. It works on multiple platforms and provides benefits of different areas such as platform, security, computing and quality engineering. It can also be called as multidisciplinary engineering.
• Cloud computing: a better approach
* Cloud computing keeps you away from the headache of storing and managing your data. You cannot manage your data all the time if it is large. With cloud computing, vendor takes the responsibility to store and manage your data. This system works like a utility in which user needs to pay only for the services needed. All the upgrades, hardware and software are managed by the vendor. Also, the billing of cloud computing is similar to electricity bill in which payment is done according to the units of electricity used.
* Cloud-based apps and software can be used as long as needed and they cost less. Usage of such apps and software is simple. It works on platform such as browser. You can simply open the browser, log in and start working. Some vendors also provide the facility to customize apps. Businesses and enterprise use number of apps in the cloud such as customer relationship management (CRM), Human Resource (HR), accounting, auditing, and many more. Most of the companies already shifted their applications to the cloud after testing security and handling of cloud infrastructure.
* With the popularity of cloud computing, number of companies are rebranding their non-cloud products and services as ‘cloud-computing’. When you need to buy cloud services, always keep in mind to view hardware and software requirements and at the cloud.
* With the growth of digital technologies, more powerful and secure apps and cloud- based platforms are available globally. Businesses are taking advantage of ‘Platform As A Service’ (PaaS). PaaS provides outsourcing of tasks on different platform rather than performing them locally. This is all made possible with advancements in cloud computing technology.
* Earlier, traditional business apps were very complicated to manage. They were very expensive as it was difficult to manage them. Also, it was difficult to deal with the software and hardware requirements of traditional business apps. A team of experts was required to install, configure, test, run, secure, manage, and update them. When you discover all the efforts required to manage these apps, you will understand why most of the companies with the best IT departments do not have apps as per their need. There is no question of business applications for small and mid-sized businesses as they are very expensive to manage. Everything was made simpler by cloud. Cloud computing changed the entire way of managing business applications.
■ Other benefits of cloud computing.
*Cloud services are offered with programs and applications which are customizable. Some vendors also allows user to have complete access over the management of data and customization of application.
* Cloud services can be considered as multi-tenant service. It allows to provide personalized applications or portals to many customers. Hence, as number of customers can use apps and portals provided by the vendor, it can be called as multi-tenant.
* As it is provided and hosted by a third party, users require a service which is secure and reliable. Also, customer requires support when there are problems in using services. So, vendors always make sure to provide assurance of reliability and security.
* Cloud applications are greatly scalable. With the Internet of Things, it is essential that applications and programs provided by service are scalable. Apps and programs must function on different devices and integrate with other applications.
* Cloud computing provides an environment which is reliable and secure enough to protect the data. There are enough resources for security and managing data of different users on the cloud.
• Emerging cloud technologies and services
* There are number of vendors providing cloud services in the market. It is very competitive to provide such services. Vendors always need to bring different features and updates in their services to differentiate themselves from others. Because of competition, they constantly expand their services. So, IaaS providers have increased a lot in the market. IaaS services can be easily obtained for storage and management of data on the cloud.
* Event-driven computing provides services for specific function while traditional cloud services require users to create a compute instance by loading code into it. Users are free to decide how long to use these services and pay for it. Programmers are free from execution of code into servers. Programmers can create code which is directly loaded and executed in the cloud. Payment of it depends on how much the function executes.
* Some examples of serverless computing services are Google Cloud Functions and Azure Functions.
• Public cloud computing is also an effective cloud service in which huge data is stored and managed within very short durations of time. Various cloud providers offer big data services. Cloud technology is also developing towards artificial intelligence and machine learning. It develops technologies which enables machine to understand human commands. Such machines could respond to the human commands. Examples of such services which benefits business are Google Cloud Machine Learning Engine and Google Cloud Speech API.
■ Problems faced by Cloud Computing
• In spite of the fact that cloud computing is expanding and growing its influence over the world, there are several concerns regarding cloud computing. But, benefits of cloud computing are more than its drawbacks. So, cloud computing is a technology which must be explored. With expansion of cloud computing technology, there are some risks.
• Initially, security was a great concern using cloud, especially when it came to outsource sensitive records and financial information. While cloud computing services are handled by number of rules and regulations, its security concern is still an ongoing issue. Media headlines about data breaches by different companies are frequently seen. We frequently come across news in which sensitive information was accessed by malicious hackers. Hackers can access, delete, manipulate or even exploit the data. Most of the times, data breeches were discovered on on-site systems and not on those in the cloud. Encryption is a way by which information can be secured. It can be accessed only with the encryption key. But, if the key is lost, the data is too lost.
• It is possible that servers maintained by cloud computing may face internal errors and bugs. Also, there are problems related with geographical reach of cloud computing. The mistakes made by vendors in management of data could cost its users.
• Some common challenges are:
1. Security of Data
* Security of data is very essential while using cloud services. Businesses and enterprises hesitate to ask or buy an assurance of data security from vendors. Sometimes, they fear of losing data in competition. Most of the times, location of actual storage where the data is stored is not disclosed to secure the data. In current cloud models, firewalls protect the sensitive data by centralizing it. Service providers are completely responsible to protect the data and enterprise have to rely on them.
2. Data Recovery and Availability
* Number of service level agreements are there on business applications to be followed. Operational teams manage these service level agreements in all areas. Operational teams support Appropriate clustering in production environments along with Fail over Data Replication System monitoring. In any of the above mentioned services are lacked by cloud-service provider, it is not appropriate.
3. Management Capabilities
* In spite of the fact that there are multiple cloud service providers, management is still a concern. Some service providers do not provide applications and software which are easily scalable. Scalability is essential to balance apps and features across different platforms today.
4. Regulatory and Compliance Restrictions
* The are Government regulations in some European countries where personal information and sensitive information is restricted to be outsourced outside the state or country. In such situation, a data center must be established by cloud provider in every state and country to meet these Government regulations. It is not easy and feasible to establish data centers and storage site everywhere. It becomes a great challenge for cloud providers.