We have been using cloud computing for ages, in one form or another. It comprises of services and data bases that are accessed through web or any private network. It is basically a paradigm where a large pool of systems is connected in private or public networks to provide infrastructure for application, data and file storage.
This technology has decreased the cost of computation, application hosting, content storage and delivery. Cloud computing has proven to be a practical approach to experience direct cost benefits and also has the ability to transform a data center from a capital-intensive setup to a variable priced environment.
Models for Cloud Computing
Services that Cloud Providers offer can be categorized into three groups:
Software as a service (SaaS)
It offers a complete application to the customer as a service on demand. Highly scalable internet based applications are hosted on the cloud and are offered as services as the end users. SaaS is offered by companies such as:
- Amazon Web Services
- CA Technologies
- Windows Azure
- Open Stack etc.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
In this group, a layer of software or development environment is encapsulated and is offered as a service upon which other higher levels of service can be built. It provides freedom to the customer to build his/her own applications that can be run on provider’s infrastructure. Some prominent PaaS Cloud Computing Companies are
- Concur Technologies
- Unisys etc.
Here, the platforms are used to design develop, build and test applications are provided by the cloud infrastructure.
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
It provides basic storage and computing capabilities as standardize services over the network. The customer typically deploys his own software in the infrastructure. Some prominent IaaS Cloud Companies are
- Amazon (EC2)
- RackSpace etc.
It is a pay per use model which offers services like storage, database management and compute capabilities on demand.
Understanding the Public, Private & Hybrid Clouds
Cloud Computing is based on the cloud location and they can be further classified as:
It includes third parties that deliver superior economies of scale to customers, give each individual client an attractive “low-cost’. With limited configuration, all customers typically share the same infrastructure pool. The benefit of Public Cloud is that they are larger than an enterprise cloud and thus provide the ability to scale seamlessly on demand.
Private clouds are built exclusively for a single enterprise and they aim to address concerns on data security. The benefit of private cloud is that they offer greater control which is typically lacking in public clouds.
Both public and private cloud models come under the Hybrid Cloud. It is capable of providing on-demand externally provisioned scale. This enables service providers to utilize third party cloud providers in a full or partial manner and thus increasing the flexibility of computing.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Cloud Computing
Presently, companies of all sizes have begun to adapt to Cloud Computing and this technology is evolving like never before. This trend is expected to grow and develop even further in the coming few years.
It offers the following advantages:
It is probably the most cost-efficient method to use, maintain and upgrade. In terms of finance, the traditional desktop software costs companies a lot and adding up the licensing fee for multiple users can prove to be very expensive. On the other hand, Cloud Computing can significantly lower the company’s IT expenses.
Unlimited Storage Capacity
Cloud gives almost unlimited storage capacity for storing information.
Once opting for cloud computing gives the advantage that the entire system becomes fully functional in a matter of few minutes.
Information from anywhere
Cloud users can access the information more easily and from anywhere, where there is availability of internet connection.
Backup and Recovery
Backing up and restoring the data in cloud computing is much easier than storing the same on any physical device.
Cloud Computing is undoubtedly beneficial for mid-size to large scale companies, it is not without its downsized specifically for smaller businesses. Small businesses need to be aware of these aspects before adapting to this technology. The main risks that are involved in Cloud Computing are as follows
Security is a major issue in cloud computing, businesses should be aware of the fact that they will be submitting their company’s sensitive information to a cloud service provider. Therefore they are required to choose the most reliable cloud service provider.
Vulnerable to attacks
Companies are vulnerable to hack attacks and threats while storing information in the cloud. Therefore there are always chances of stealth of delicate information about the companies.
Dependent on Internet Connection
There can always be a possible downtime as small businesses depend on their internet connection while using cloud computing.
By using a cloud computing vendors services, it often relates to locking the business into using their proprietary applications.
By these few drawbacks, it does not mean that Cloud Computing is not beneficial at all. Owners of the small businesses have different needs and different comfort levels and it may be more advantageous to use cloud computing for certain applications.
Clould Computing can prove to be a great asset to companies if it is understood and used properly and can be an opportunity for small businesses to stabilize the efforts implied by IT management.