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Cloud Computing Technologies

Cloud Computing Technologies

The term “cloud” regards to servers that are located over the Internet, and the software and databases that operate on those servers. Cloud servers are established in data centers all over the world. By using cloud computing, users and companies don’t have to control physical servers themselves or drive software applications on their machines

Cloud Computing is not the most nocturnal technology. Cloud computing has evolved (increase gradually) through several stages which include Grid Computing, Utility Computing, Application Service Provision, and Software as a Service, etc.

But the overarching concept of releasing computing resources through a global network is started in the sixties.

What was before cloud computing?

Before there was cloud computing, there was service-oriented architecture (SOA). While the cloud incorporates implementation and application delivery possibilities, SOA is treated with the foundation underneath that makes it all possible.

The bottom line is without SOA, it’s very difficult to get to the cloud. An elevator-pitch definition of service-oriented architecture would be Loosely-coupled services with well-defined interfaces that provide business functionality and can be shared or reused across and beyond the enterprise. These services can be discovered through a registry/repository or other directory and can be assembled and disassembled to meet current business process demands.

How does cloud computing work?

Rather than owning their computing infrastructure or data centers, companies can rent access to anything from applications to storage from a cloud service provider.

One benefit of using cloud computing services is that firms can avoid the upfront cost and complexity of owning and maintaining their own IT infrastructure, and instead simply pay for what they use when they use it.

In turn, providers of cloud computing services can benefit from significant economies of scale by delivering the same services to a wide range of customers.

What cloud computing services are available?

Cloud computing services cover a vast range of options now, from the basics of storage, networking, and processing power through to natural language processing and artificial intelligence as well as standard office applications. Pretty much any service that doesn’t require you to be physically close to the computer hardware that you are using can now be delivered via the cloud.

What are examples of cloud computing?

Cloud computing underpins an enormous number of services. That includes consumer services like Gmail or the cloud back-up of the photos on your smartphone, though to the services which allow large enterprises to host all their data and run all of their applications in the cloud. Netflix relies on cloud computing services to run its video streaming service and its other business systems too and has several other organizations.

Cloud computing is becoming the default option for many apps: software vendors are increasingly offering their applications as services over the internet rather than standalone products as they try to switch to a subscription model. However, there is a potential downside to cloud computing, in that it can also introduce new costs and new risks for companies using it.

Why is it called cloud computing?

A fundamental concept behind cloud computing is that the location of the service, and many of the details such as the hardware or operating system on which it is running, are largely irrelevant to the user. It’s with this in mind that the metaphor of the cloud was borrowed from old telecoms network schematics, in which the public telephone network (and later the internet) was often represented as a cloud to denote that the just didn’t matter — it was just a cloud of stuff. This is an over-simplification of course; for many customers location of their services and data remains a key issue.

What is the history of cloud computing?

Cloud computing as a term has been around since the early 2000s, but the concept of computing-as-a-service has been around for much, much longer — as far back as the 1960s, when computer bureaus would allow companies to rent time on a mainframe, rather than have to buy one themselves.

These ‘time-sharing’ services were largely overtaken by the rise of the PC which made owning a computer much more affordable and then in turn by the rise of corporate data centers where companies would store vast amounts of data.

But the concept of renting access to computing power has resurfaced again and again — in the application service providers, utility computing, and grid computing of the late 1990s and early 2000s. This was followed by cloud computing, which took hold with the emergence of software as a service and hyper-scale cloud computing providers such as Amazon Web Services.

How important is the cloud?

Building the infrastructure to support cloud computing now accounts for more than a third of all IT spending worldwide, according to research from IDC. Meanwhile spending on traditional, in-house IT continues to slide as computing workloads continue to move to the cloud, whether that is public cloud services offered by vendors or private clouds built by enterprises themselves.

451 Research predicts that around one-third of enterprise IT spending will be on hosting and cloud services this year “indicating a growing reliance on external sources of infrastructure, application, management and security services”. Analyst Gartner predicts that half of the global enterprises using the cloud now will have gone all-in on it by 2021.

What is Infrastructure-as-a-Service?

Cloud computing can be broken down into three cloud computing models. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) refers to the fundamental building blocks of computing that can be rented: physical or virtual servers, storage, and networking. This is attractive to companies that want to build applications from the very ground up and want to control nearly all the elements themselves, but it does require firms to have the technical skills to be able to orchestrate services at that level. Research by Oracle found that two-thirds of IaaS users said using online infrastructure makes it easier to innovate, had cut their time to deploy new applications and services, and had significantly cut on-going maintenance costs. However, half said IaaS isn’t secure enough for most critical data.

What is Platform-as-a-Service?

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is the next layer up — as well as the underlying storage, networking, and virtual servers this will also include the tools and software that developers need to build applications on top of that could include middleware, database management, operating systems, and development tools.

What is Software-as-a-Service?

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is the delivery of applications-as-a-service, probably the version of cloud computing that most people are used to on a day-to-day basis. The underlying hardware and operating system are irrelevant to the end-user, who will access the service via a web browser or app; it is often bought on a per-seat or per-user basis.

Cloud computing benefits

The exact benefits will vary according to the type of cloud service being used but, fundamentally, using cloud services means companies not having to buy or maintain their computing infrastructure.

No more buying servers, updating applications or operating systems, or decommissioning and disposing of hardware or software when it is out of date, as it is all taken care of by the supplier. For commodity applications, such as email, it can make sense to switch to a cloud provider, rather than rely on in-house skills. A company that specializes in running and securing these services is likely to have better skills and more experienced staff than a small business could afford to hire, so cloud services may be able to deliver a more secure and efficient service to end-users.

Using cloud services means companies can move faster on projects and test out concepts without lengthy procurement and big upfront costs because firms only pay for the resources they consume. This concept of business agility is often mentioned by cloud advocates as a key benefit. The ability to spin up new services without the time and effort associated with traditional IT procurement should mean that it is easier to get going with new applications faster. And if a new application turns out to be a wildly popular the elastic nature of the cloud means it is easier to scale it up fast.

For a company with an application that has big peaks in usage, for example, that is only used at a particular time of the week or year, it may make financial sense to have it hosted in the cloud, rather than have dedicated hardware and software laying idle for much of the time. Moving to a cloud-hosted application for services like email or CRM could remove a burden on internal IT staff, and if such applications don’t generate much competitive advantage, there will be little another impact. Moving to a services model also moves spending from capex to opex, which may be useful for some companies.

What about cloud computing security?

Certainly many companies remain concerned about the security of cloud services, although breaches of security are rare. How secure you consider cloud computing to be will largely depend on how secure your existing systems are. In-house systems managed by a team with many other things to worry about are likely to be leakier than systems monitored by a cloud provider’s engineers dedicated to protecting that infrastructure.

What is a cloud computing region? What is a cloud computing availability zone?

Cloud computing services are operated from giant data centers around the world. AWS divides this up by ‘regions’ and ‘availability zones’. Each AWS region is a separate geographic area, like the EU (London) or US West (Oregon), which AWS then further subdivides into what it calls availability zones (AZs). An AZ is composed of one or more data centers that are far enough apart that in theory a single disaster won’t take both offline, but close enough together for business continuity applications that require rapid failover.

Which are the big cloud computing companies?

When it comes to IaaS and PaaS there are only a few giant cloud providers. Leading the way is Amazon Web Services, and then the following pack of Microsoft’s Azure, Google, IBM, and Alibaba. While the following pack might be growing fast, their combined revenues are still less than those of AWS, according to data from the Synergy Research Group.

What is the future of cloud computing?

Cloud computing is still at a relatively early stage of adoption, despite its long history. Many companies are still considering which apps to move and when. However, usage is only likely to climb as organizations get more comfortable with the idea of their data being somewhere other than a server in the basement. We’re still relatively early into cloud adoption — some estimates suggest that only 10% of the workloads that could be move have been transferred across. Those are the easy ones where the economics are hard for CIOs to argue with.

For the rest of the enterprise computing portfolio the economics of moving to the cloud may be less clear cut. As a result cloud computing vendors are increasingly pushing cloud computing as an agent of digital transformation instead of focusing simply on cost. Moving to the cloud can help companies rethink business processes and accelerate business change, goes the argument, by helping to break down data and organizational silos. Some companies that need to boost momentum around their digital transformation programs may find this argument appealing; others may find enthusiasm for the cloud waning as the costs of making the switch add up.

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