Get a bird-eye view about Cloud Computing and know how it can help you! Find out how it works and what are its types, services, advantages and challenges.
What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is defined as “On-demand availability of computer system resources, especially data storage (cloud storage) and computing power, without direct active management by the user.” The term ‘Cloud computing’ describes data centres which are available to numerous users and enterprises over the internet. Generally, large Cloud, which is predominant today, usually have their functions distributed all over the world from multiple locations. They are connected to central servers in their head offices. Cloud computing allows business enterprises to share their resources online and expand their business and sales.
Cloud computing saw a massive surge in its popularity among business enterprises all over the world. This can be credited to the availability of low-cost computers, high capacity networks, and storage devices. Linux is the most widely used operating system in Cloud computing. Even Microsoft uses Linux as it’s the chief operating system in its servers.
To explain cloud computing with the help of a real-life example, let us consider a train. Whenever you travel by train, you have to take a ticket for your desired destination and stay in your seat until you reach that place. Similarly, there will be other passengers who are travelling on the train to reach their own destinations. Simply get off the train. You can use all the free or paid services of the train which is provided to you. The passengers hardly bother each other during the journey. When the station comes, you get simply get off the train. The same thing happens with cloud computing too. Different users and enterprises carry their data in them like a bus, and you can use any service you want, free of cost or with payment. Most of the payments are generally reasonable in Cloud computing.
Why do I recommend Cloud computing?
21st century has seen spectacular growth in the number of computer and mobile users all over the world. Many small businesses have started doing their business based on computer and even online businesses. Because of all these steps towards the information technology industry, data storage has become a major problem for most of the enterprises. Many businesses have to pay a large amount of money to maintain their data. This maintenance of data requires strong IT support and massive storage. Not many small enterprises can afford these things. For them, Cloud computing is a much cheaper option. Cloud computing’s efficient in storing a big amount of data and lesser maintenance cost has even attracted big businesses!
Cloud computing can decrease the demand for hardware and software from the user’s side. The users can use the software provided online for their work. The only thing they need to maintain is the software of that particular cloud computing provider. I think almost all of us have used cloud computing at some point in our lives. I hope you have used email services like Gmail, Yahoo, and Proton Mail. All are an example of Cloud computing. Here, we don’t have to store data of the emails and attachments received in our system. These data are stored on the cloud server instead. So with this example of email providers, we can say that an individual user can connect to Cloud computing using his/her device.
Cloud computing helps small businesses to use resources and software which were earlier entirely out of their reach. So Cloud computing helps these small enterprises to convert these maintenance and software subscriptions costs into profit. Cloud computing service provider even takes full responsibility for any complications or technical errors, which provides a sense of security to its users.
Understanding how Cloud Computing works
Let us understand how Cloud Computing works. We will divide Cloud Computing into two components ends the front end and the back end.
The front end consists of the client’s part of Cloud Computing. It has a user interface and hosts numerous applications required or used by the user.
The back end comprises of all the resources required to run Cloud Computing services. It is the Cloud itself! The back end hosts virtual machines, storage facility and security systems. It comes under the service provider’s control.
Service providers never store data in Cloud Computing in one place only. It is distributed over multiple hardware disks and machines. In case one of the hardware or machine unit fails to provide service or crashes, the other will automatically take charge.
What is virtualization?
Virtualization is the leading technology which allows cloud computing. Virtualization merely is partitioning a physical server into numerous logical servers. These valid servers after their creation can behave as a physical server and can run operating systems and other applications independently. Popular companies like Microsoft provide virtualization services. Here, the users or enterprises, instead of using their system for storage or running applications, can use these virtual servers, which are both time and energy-saving and cost-effective.
Virtualization comes very handy for software and website developers and testers. It allows the developers to write the codes which can run in a different environment, thus giving them an opportunity to test the systems too.
Advantages of Cloud Computing
- Cost Saving: The most crucial advantage of Cloud Computing is cost saving. The enterprise does not need to spend money on hardware and storage devices. They do not need to employ an IT professional to maintain the system. All these maintenances can be done by the service provider themselves.
- Strategic Edge: Cloud Computing gives you an edge over your competitors. You do not need to spend money or time in installing software and upgrades. Cloud Computing service providers automatically upgrade software and applications. So you can straight away use the latest technology.
- Backup and recovery of Data: Once you have saved the data in the Cloud Computing platform, it becomes easier for you to back up the data or recover them. Otherwise, you must be aware that restoring data can even take hours!
- Reliability: Cloud Computing platforms are reliable. The service providers update you instantly if there is any change.
- Unlimited storage capacity: The storage capacity offered by Cloud can be even unlimited. You can also quickly expand your storage space with nominal monthly fees.
- Work From Home!: Employees don’t always need to visit offices to work. They can also access the Cloud Computing platforms of their company by sitting at home and do the works required. All they need is good internet connectivity.
- Collaboration: Since people can access Cloud Computing platforms from anywhere with the condition of having good internet connectivity, Cloud Computing allows you to collaborate with your colleagues from any geographical location.
Challenges to Cloud Computing
- Varying Performance: While an enterprise is working on Cloud Computing platform, the owner of the enterprise should be aware that the server is simultaneously providing services and its resources to other customers too. So one should be aware of Denial-of-Service Attack (DDOS) can affect the performance of resources shared.
- Technical issues: Cloud Computing technology is always prone to technical problems. Even the best Cloud Computing service providers can face this issue. These technical issues can be outage or denial of service for some time.
- Security issues: One of the significant problems with Cloud Computing is security issues. You should be aware that the sensitive information you upload in Cloud Computing platforms is prone to hacker attacks too. Hence one should always go for top service providers in the market.
- Downtime: You will surely be facing this issue of downtime while using Cloud Computing platforms. The service provider may suffer from power loss or slow internet speed. This will ultimately affect your performance.
- The need for functional internet connectivity: Good internet connectivity is essential if you want to access your data in Cloud Computing platforms. You cannot access them without an internet connection.
- Lack of support: Cloud Computing companies do not provide proper support to their customers. These companies want their customers to depend on online help and FAQs. This can be quite difficult for someone from a non-technical background.
Types of Cloud Computing
If you want to subscribe to Cloud Computing, you can make choices from 4 different models. These models are:
- Private Cloud: In Private cloud computing, the resources of a Cloud Computing company are correctly deployed for one particular organization or a company. They host all their computer infrastructure, and these are not meant to be shared with others. This is generally for the interaction of employees within the company. Here the security and control level is highest.
- Community Cloud: Here, Cloud Computing is shared between some enterprises with common objective or a specific community, in terms of profession or geography.
- Public Cloud: This type of Cloud Computing is generally used for business to customer interactions. Here, the Cloud Computing service is either owned or operated by government, or an academic organization or a business organization. The whole computing infrastructure can be found on the premises of a Cloud Computing service provider.
- Hybrid Cloud: This type of Cloud Computing can be used for both B2B (Business to Business) or B2C (Business to Customer) interactions. This method is called hybrid cloud computing as the computer resources are bound together by different clouds. Here the enterprise uses both public and private clouds. The enterprise hosts its sensitive and vital information in their own servers and other less important or secondary applications elsewhere.
Types of Cloud services
Cloud Computing services fall in four categories on the basis of the service opted by the consumer. Let us have a look at them:
- Infrastructure as a service (IaaS): This is the most basic Cloud Computing service. It allows you to opt for a pay-as-you-go scheme. IaaS provides a lot of computing infrastructures like load balancers, bandwidth, IP addresses etc. Cloud Computing companies generally extract this pool of hardware resources from numerous servers and networks. The service providers generally store these servers and networks over a lot of data centres across the globe. IaaS is a complete package of computing for small scale business enterprises who need to cut their costs in order to increase their profit. This is because, every year, enterprises have to spend a tremendous amount of money on infrastructure like purchasing hard-drives, renewing software licence etc. One can significantly cut this cost by Cloud Computing.
- SaaS (Software as a Service): SaaS is a software distribution model which offers software subscription to its users, usually on a monthly basis. The customers can access the subscribed software on with the help of internet. They do not need to have ‘proper’ infrastructure in their system to use the software. The support is provided by the Cloud Computing platform itself. SaaS has gained admirers all over the world because it makes using the software cheaper. Generally, an enterprise needs to purchase software (and even renew the licence annually). The enterprise owners also have to make sure that they have proper infrastructures like hardware and sufficient storage facility available to host this software. All these add to a lot of cost to the enterprise. SaaS provides an excellent way to cut these costs. In SaaS, anyone who needs access to the software can subscribe to it, generally on a monthly basis and let even thousands of its employees to use them. SaaS enables the employees to perform many essential tasks like invoicing, accounting, designing etc.
- PaaS (Platform as a Service): This type of Cloud Computing provides a platform and environment to allow developers to develop software and other services. Users can access this kind of service in the Cloud with the help of internet. To understand PaaS in simple terms, let us compare developing software in PaaS to recording a song. You will be provided with all the infrastructure by the music director in the studio like microphone, recorders, karaoke tunes and even background singers. You just have to sing beautifully using those infrastructures. The best thing about Cloud Computing as PaaS is that the Cloud Computing service providers update these services and applications regularly. Enterprises, developers of software and websites can benefit a lot with PaaS. It also enables you to collaborate with your colleagues. Storage, networking, testing, deploying and application maintenance are all provided by the Cloud Computing service provider. This saves a significant amount of cost and energy!