The word ‘cloud’ is trending in the world of IT. But, what is it, how does it make an impact, and is it something really special?
■ Cloud Computing
• what is cloud? Where is this so-called ‘cloud’? Are we using cloud regularly? You may have come across number of such questions and even asked yourself. The term “cloud computing” is omnipresent. When you update your status on Facebook, you’re using cloud computing. Making payments through mobile? You’re in the cloud again. Checking posts on Instagram ? You’re on the cloud again.
• In simple terms, instead of using your computer’s hard drive or storage devices, you can access and store data and programs over the Internet. The word ‘cloud’ itself relates to the Internet. You might have learned flowcharts and diagrams, connections and network of these large servers over the Internet. The concept of “cloud computing” is very similar and related to that.
• Cloud computing is not about your hard drive. Hard drive refers to the local storage and computing, when you store or access data and programs on it. You can access data very fast and easily when you have your data on your computer or computer connected to the local network. Computer industry used this traditional method to function for decades.
• But, cloud does not require any network between the computers or server in residence. Storing data on a network cannot be considered as using the cloud. Some network attached storage hardware will let you remotely access data over the Internet, but it’s not ‘cloud’.
• The term “cloud computing” means accessing your data or your programs over the Internet. Your data or information always remains synced with the other information over the Web so that you can access it anytime. Big businesses require of knowing what’s going on at the other parts of the business. Individuals in the business would never know what process is taking place at the other parts of the business. So, to understand the process taking place, cloud computing can be done anywhere, anytime.
■ Cloud for Business
• Cloud computing is different for individual users and big businesses. For individuals, they can sit at their home or offices and use the Internet to store and access data over the Internet. But, for big businesses, cloud computing is very wide.
• It provides a unique way to manage your computing resources over the Internet. The term has been evolved over the recent years, but to describe it easily, we can say that the use of third party for your storage and computing needs is “cloud computing”.
• Cloud allows businesses to access their data virtually, creating a flexible and global environment in which the accessing and storing of your data could be done at any place, any time.
• When you are considering cloud computing for your business, here are the 3 questions to ask yourself:
1. What type of cloud computing does your business require?
2. How much are you willing to pay to access such services?
3. Could you deal with security risks along with using such services?
• After considering this questions, you must take a deep view of services that are available by cloud. There are different types of cloud computing and cloud computing models which you can consider and decide which services meet the requirements of your business model.
• Types of cloud computing can be described in two ways. One, by cloud location, or other by the service that the cloud is offering.
■ On the basis of cloud location, cloud can be classified as:
• Community cloud
■ On the basis of service offered by the cloud, cloud can be classified as:
• Saas (Software-as-a-Service)
• Paas (Platform-as-a-Service)
• Iaas (Infrastructure-as-a-Service)
■ Let’s understand each type of cloud in deep:
On the basis of cloud location
1. Public cloud: The term public cloud refers to the situation in which whole computing infrastructure (all the users using cloud service) is located on the side of cloud computing company which is offering the cloud service. Public clouds use shared resources, but are vulnerable to various attacks as it is public.
2. Private Cloud: The term private cloud refers to the situation in which a cloud network is used by a single individual or organization. It is not shared with others. Different private cloud services are also available with physical access over the network. When using private network, the security is highest.
3. Hybrid cloud: Hybrid means using both private and public clouds. For example, public cloud can be used to deal with the customers where the level of security required is minimal, while private cloud can be used to store data, where the level of security required is more.
4. Community cloud: Community cloud is used mostly in the situations where the network is to be shared between organizations for the exchange of data and its management. A community cloud could be used by the Government of a single country.
On the basis of service offered by the cloud
1. Saas (Software-as-a-Service):
• SaaS is commonly known as “on-demand software”. SaaS is a cloud computing model in which a consumer is provided with fully functional software’s or applications running on cloud networks. Such services are on the subscription basis. These applications are accessible through number of client devices using web browser. The billing of such type of subscription is done on consumption basis or on monthly charges. When consumer rents such service for the use of organization, the service provider manages all the hardware and software, security of the app and the data as well.
• Some well known examples of SaaS includes Office 365, Sales force, Google Apps, Cisco WebEx and Netflix.
• SaaS is useful for the enterprises with:
– Accounting and invoicing
– Performance monitoring
– Tracking sales and performance
2. PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service):
• PaaS is a cloud computing model which is generally used for applications, and other development. It was basically designed to make development and management of applications easier. In PaaS, the consumer is provided with hardware and software tools, which is also known as framework. On this framework, developers can develop or customize applications. They can deploy their applications created using programming languages, libraries, services, hardware and tools provided by the cloud service provider. PaaS makes development, testing and deployment of applications simple, easy and cost-effective. Consumers cannot manage or have access over the network, servers or the OSes, but can control the deployed applications using PaaS model.
• Some well known examples of PaaS includes Apprenda, IBM BlueMix, Microsoft Azure and Cloudbees.
• PaaS is useful for the enterprises with:
– Software developers
– Web developers
– Businesses (to develop and test their own internal software)
3. IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service):
• IaaS is a cloud computing model that provides computer infrastructure (network) by outsourcing for enterprise operations. It is commonly known as hardware as a service (HaaS). It provides the consumer with hardware, storage, servers and data center space (network components) and software. Consumer of IaaS is provided infrastructure for storage, operations and maintenance. Clients usually pay on computing basis for such services. Instead of purchasing entire hardware, users can purchase IaaS based on consumption. The billing of IaaS is similar to that of electricity billing which is based on consumption.
• In IaaS, users are responsible for managing applications, OSes, runtime and data. Service providers manage servers, hard drives, storage and networking. IaaS services are now offered with databases, messaging queues, and other services. Using IaaS, it is easier for an enterprise to install any required platform.
• Some well known examples of IaaS includes Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine and Cisco Metapod.
■ SaaS vs. PaaS vs. IaaS
• IaaS is a complemented by alternate models that include SaaS and PaaS.
• PaaS is based on IaaS. In IaaS, in addition to infrastructure components, providers host, manage, provides OSes, middleware and other runtimes for the users. While in PaaS, the deployment workload is simplified. Using PaaS creates inflexibility for the business to create an environment that they actually want.
• In SaaS, in addition to providing infrastructure and applications, providers host and manage them. Consumers of SaaS can use provider’s application by simply logging in without any separate installation. Such applications run on provider’s infrastructure. Users can set and configure the way applications works, authorize the users to use them. But, SaaS provider is responsible for other management.
■ Small Businesses
• Apart from large enterprises, cloud computing is also useful for small businesses. It can mean big changes for small businesses. Many of the small business owners have now realized the usefulness of cloud computing.
• Today, 37% small businesses of U.S have completely adapted to cloud computing. It is predicted that by 2020, this percentage will rise to 80%. Cloud has redefined the way small businesses do business.
• Here are the reasons why small business owners should adapt cloud computing:
1. Lower costs: Savings can be considered as one of the most important benefit for small businesses. Cloud computing utilizes hardware and provides virtualization. Business can perform more with less. It reduces the rack space, power usage, support costs, hardware and maintenance costs. For small businesses, such savings can be considered invaluable.
2. Better co-operation: Co-operation is made easy using cloud computing. Users can store and access various files through the cloud, which enables employees to work easily from the same master register. Some tools such as Google Drive, allows users to upload, edit, and post a comment on files, which creates a better environment for employees to work. The employer could also limit what employees can access. There is no doubt that cloud makes it easy for small business owners to manage and track progress on assignments.
3. Greater combinations: Using cloud computing for business could provide various opportunities for integration. Business using cloud services can take advantage of various cloud-based services such as marketing management, accounting, office operations and human resources from various cloud-based providers. Small business owners can focus on every areas of business using cloud.
■ Impact of Cloud Computing
• For business, one of the most important benefits is being able to access and store related data and information remotely from any device, in any place and at any time. We are currently living in the world of Internet. Gone are those days where files were stuck on a single computer or local server.
• As the technology and the world of business emerges, the need for more remote workers, flexible arrangements, and remotely accessible materials increases. Cloud computing not only makes it easier for employees to work remotely when away from the office, but also makes it easier for small business owners to manage their business at any time of the day when they desire from anywhere.
• Increased mobility, cost savings, co-operation, ease in development, testing, etc has made cloud computing an omnipresent component in most of the businesses in the world.
• Ideas for innovating business can be made into reality using cloud computing. Business owners could start innovation initiatives using cloud services. New business models, with combination of services can be done. There are some companies which are building entirely new business models using cloud services.