Cloud Computing is a recent evolving development in the field of Information Technology. It can be defined as the delivery of decentralized computing resources and hosted services (like database storage, computing power, applications, and other IT resources), over the internet.
As per the definition given by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), cloud computing is “a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”
Cloud Computing is a paradigm of distributed computing. All the computing resources are made available to the cloud users on distributed data centers which are maintained by third-party organizations.
Cloud Computing offers virtual computing resources to the cloud users. The virtual servers, databases or any other IT resources on a payable basis. Hence, Virtualization forms the key concept of Cloud Computing.
How do Cloud Computing works?
Cloud facilities are provided by distributed data centers. The data is not distributed on the individual cloud users’ system. Instead, the data or service is accessed by the cloud users stored on the servers on the network.
Cloud Computing helps in providing virtual services to cloud users through the internet. Thus, it is required by the cloud user to be connected to the internet to use the services provided by cloud computing.
What are the cloud deployment models?
Based upon the ownership, access and size, the type of cloud environments can be distinguished from each other through their deployment models.
There are four deployment models available for cloud computing environment which are as follows:
The public clouds are owned and managed by third-party organizations. As the name suggests, the public clouds are publicly accessible cloud environments.
All the IT resources and services are maintained by the third-party cloud providers. These third-party cloud providers make available the IT resources for general public cloud users.
The cloud users can use and access the services through a web browser or even through APIs.
The community cloud is quite similar to the public cloud, but with limited access. As the name suggests, the community cloud is used by a particular community.
This community can be any community among the cloud users. This type of cloud environments is either maintained by third-party organizations or by any of the community members from the community using the cloud.
All the community members are not necessarily granted access to the IT resources and services.
The cloud environments owned, organized, maintained and used by the same organization are the private cloud. The cloud providers and cloud consumers are the same for this type of cloud environment.
The different business units of the organization at different locations can easily access the IT resources and services of the private cloud of that organization.
There is a lesser risk to security since the cloud is meant to be used and maintained by the same organization.
Hybrid cloud environments are a combination of two or more of the deployment models (public, community or private).
There might be the highly sensitive and confidential data stored on the private cloud whereas the lesser sensitive data on the public cloud by some organization.
The responsibility of maintaining the cloud environment is distributed between the private cloud providers and public cloud providers.
What are the cloud service models?
The services provided by the cloud service providers fall under three main models. These services of the models are typically represented as XaaS which means X as a Service.
Here X can be replaced by I, P and S (Infrastructure, Platform, and Software). These three service models can be explained as follows:
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) provides computing infrastructure resources to the cloud user. These virtualized services include the pre-installed hardware and software.
The third-party cloud providers provide servers, storage, network, connectivity, operating systems, etc. If the cloud consumer needs a high level of control and maintenance responsibility for the configuration and utility, then Infrastructure as a Service is used.
The IaaS service provides mainly the high power, large network bandwidth for servers, and large data storage. Amazon EC2, IBM SoftLayer, Googles’ Compute Engine (GCE) are a few examples of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
PaaS (Platform as a Service) provides the underlying infrastructure. The cloud providers provide the cloud user with a cloud environment with already deployed resources.
In the cloud environment provided by the PaaS, the cloud users can build and deliver applications.
The organization that uses the PaaS (Platform as a Service) does not need to use any traditional infrastructure to build applications. Instead, it provides a platform with inbuilt tools to develop, test and maintain applications.
IBM Blue Mix, Google App Engine, Microsoft Azure are a few examples of Platform as a Service (PaaS).
Software as a Service (SaaS)
SaaS (Software as a Service) provides the cloud users the access to the cloud-based software. The applications do not necessarily need to be installed on the device.
The applications are stored and accessed from the remote cloud. To access these applications, the cloud users can use APIs or web. The benefit is that the cloud user need not manage or update the software.
Instead, the SaaS cloud provider maintains it. Cisco WebEx, Google Apps are a few examples of Software as a Service (SaaS).
What are the uses of Cloud Computing?
Cloud Computing is widely used these days. Some of its uses are listed below:
Apps like WhatsApp Skype etc., use cloud architecture to store the users’ information and messages on the remote hardware provided by the cloud provider.
Siri, Alexa and Google assistant are all examples of intelligent chatbots which are based on cloud computing. These chatbots store the user preferences and help in providing the user with products, services, and messages based on the users’ preferences.
Test and development and now even production
Cloud computing provides a test and development environment for the cloud user. Thus, the users do not have to invest time and man power in installing and configuring the testing platform.
These days, the cloud has become so powerful and reliable that lof of production load is being migrated to cloud.
The customer is slowly getting confident of the cloud as far as performance, security, and scalability is concerned. So much so that, all sort of production business data and operations are getting a place on the cloud.
All the essential data whether it be files, messages, pictures, etc., are all backed up on the cloud and easily accessed by the users.
Big Data Analytics
Cloud computing helps in extracting business values from structured and unstructured data. The buying patterns of the users help the retailers and suppliers a particular segment of customers.
Sometimes disaster may cause a business to end entirely due to data loss. Here is when cloud computing helps restore an organization its data stored on the cloud.
What are the benefits of using Cloud Computing?
Cloud Computing provides the cloud user with many benefits which are as follows:
Reduced IT costs
Initial cost implementation for a cloud user might be high. But once you invest in some cloud service, it already reduces the cost of purchasing new equipment.
The managing and maintaining the cost of IT resources is also reduced. Also, some cloud providers let you pay only for the resources you use.
Scalability and Flexibility
The need for the use of resources might keep fluctuating in an organization. Instead of maintaining the resources, its installation or upgrades themselves, the cloud providers take care of it for the organization.
Thus, any requirement of further resources can be done without undergoing any complex or expensive process of upgradation.
The cloud services are accessible through any device whether it be desktop, laptop or any smartphone. This helps the user to keep up to date with the work and clients even if far from the office.
Data loss prevention
Storing data at local hardware might risk it on losing it permanently. Any virus or malfunction of the system can be the cause for it. Storing data on the cloud keeps it safe and easily accessible to the cloud user over the internet.
The cloud providers give access to the new versions and recent upgrades to the cloud user. There is no wastage of the user’s time in installation and updating the services.
There are many data centers providing cloud services to the user. All these services are regularly updated to the latest version. Thus, gives the efficient performance to the cloud users.
Is Cloud Computing Secure?
While using the cloud services, the most important concern is about the security of the data you are storing on the cloud which is stored at remote data centers.
The data of any organization is sensitive and giving its access to any third-party cloud provider is where the cloud user might have security issues.
There are many technologies and policies used by the cloud providers to secure the data stored on the cloud. It helps in to protect the data stored by the IT organizations and other cloud users.
Encryption is commonly used by cloud providers to secure the data of their cloud users. In fact, the cloud providers also let the cloud users access and control their encryption keys.
The data while being transmitted or being simply stored, is always encrypted.
The data stored is made into chunks, then encrypted and stored at different data centers. This puts the users’ data at lesser risk of loss and unauthentic access.
The origin of the word cloud was used for the internet as a metaphor. The internet provides remote access to the virtual services provided by the cloud provider.
Cloud Computing these days is revolutionizing the IT world. It provides a remotely accessible environment to the IT organizations. It provides the IT organizations and helps to manage and deploy the IT infrastructure.
Whether it be large database storage, server or operating system, etc. all these resources are virtually made available over the cloud to the cloud users. The resources on the cloud are easily accessible using API or web.
Cloud Computing provides all the centralized facilities and services at distributed data centers. There are many cloud providers these days that helps the cloud users access the cloud services over the internet.