Your Quick Guide to Understand Everything About Cloud Computing
Published on June 4, 2021
Ever since the Internet became global in 1991, the computing world underwent a fantastic revolution. The Web brought to life the magic of digital technology and delivered it into the hands of ordinary users and businesses regardless of size. The Internet connected the world and empowered it to explore and create. And nowhere has this ability been demonstrated than in the technology called cloud computing.
Cloud computing, by definition
Many people are still intrigued by the term ‘cloud’ every time the conversation veers towards information technology (IT). Let us first explain the context of the cloud computing system before we get deeper into the subject.
The word cloud refers to the Internet. That overhead spectacle’s ability to tower over everything became the perfect metaphor for the Internet’s sweeping reach.
Cloud computing is computing that is done ‘up there’ in a virtualized environment, where the computing infrastructure, tools, and resources are made available and maintained in a Web-based setting.
That is vastly different from the traditional model, where individuals and companies work with computer applications and data housed in a physical location within their premises.
RELATED TOPIC: What are the 3 Important Benefits of Virtualization?
Cloud computing services are based online, where they are quickly available anytime using a Web server. Like in a fast-food outlet, you choose what you like in a self-service mode and only pay for the service you use. All the resources are out there in varying amounts and proportions, and you can quickly scale as your needs increase or decrease.
If you think about cloud computing technology as only for big corporations and requires sophisticated equipment to access, you are wrong. In fact, you could already be using them without your knowing it while going about your daily activities.
For example, when you listen to your favorite music streaming channel, store your files, or go on a movie binge, you are using cloud computing services.
Cloud computing technology is making things possible for millions of users worldwide. And they range from business startups, major corporations, and tech-savvy individuals who love the cloud’s on-demand availability and cost-effectiveness.
How Cloud Computing Started
The concept of non-local or offsite computing, which is what cloud computing services are about, can be traced back to the early 1950s. It originated from a mainframe that the military developed to connect computer terminals. At that time, distributed computing cost millions, and many people are needed to make the technology possible.
The term ‘cloud computing’ was coined in 1996 to describe distributed computing.
In 1999, just as the world was ushering in the new millennium, cloud applications were finally offered over the Internet, formally ushering in software as a service as we know it.
Ways to Deploy Cloud Computing Services
There are four distinct types of cloud computing deployment. It is essential that you choose the type of cloud architecture that fits your business requirements.
- Public cloud. A third-party provider hosts it and delivers the required computing resources such as server and storage. It is open to the general public and can be accessed and managed through a Web browser.
- Private cloud. It refers to cloud computing resources that are internally hosted and maintained on a private network for the exclusive use of a company or organization. It is accessible from an intranet and may be located on an onsite data center or hosted by a third-party provider.
- Hybrid cloud. It combines public and private clouds. It allows the sharing of data and applications for more flexibility, more options for deployment, and better infrastructure optimization.
- Community cloud. It refers to a computing platform accessible to a specific community or several companies with similar needs and interests. An example is a group of NGOs with common advocacies, sharing the infrastructure, data, computing resources, and making decisions collaboratively.
The Four Main Service Models of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing services fall under four categories. They are:
- Infrastructure as a service (Iaas). It allows you to rent an IT infrastructure including a server, storage, operating system, network capacity, and other computing resources on-demand and according to your specific requirements.
- Platform as a service (Paas). It supplies cloud computing services for developing, testing, and managing software applications. It makes it easy for developers to create apps without having to set up the necessary infrastructure.
- Software as a service (Saas). A cloud provider hosts and manages the security patching of software applications and delivers them online via a Web browser on a pay-as-you-go or subscription basis.
- Serverless. The cloud provider takes care of server management for you, so you save time managing the servers and infrastructure needed to build software applications.
The Advantages of Cloud Computing Services
Here are what you can do with cloud computing services, which are available from a legitimate cloud services provider.
- Use software on demand. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) brings you the latest applications for work and play anytime you need them. Cloud-based software is updated regularly, so you enjoy the latest versions and features. On-demand availability reduces cost because you only pay for the application that you use.
- Backup data securely. Cloud storage allows you to back up your most valuable data offsite and access them online from anywhere and with any device. It can store enormous amounts of information so you can scale according to your growing requirements cost-effectively. Cloud computing security also protects your data from a natural disaster such as fire or earthquake that onsite physical storage rarely survives.
- Create complete cloud-native applications. If you are a developer, you can create software applications in the cloud-based on microservices architecture or across cross-functional Web services. That makes it easy to build, deploy, and scale Web, mobile, and API applications. A provider will supply you with the development tools and fully managed services. They will allow you to create on an open platform that ensures built-in security and fast market delivery.
- Build applications and test their performance. Using scalable cloud infrastructure allows you to develop applications faster and at less cost.
- Watch and listen to high-definition entertainment streams. The cloud can connect you to your favorite music and video streaming channels anytime you want and from anywhere in the world. Cloud-borne entertainment is available from any device, and you can choose from an impressive variety of programs and formats.
- Use cloud services to analyze data. Cloud providers use machine learning technologies to help you analyze your stored data and learn insights that can enhance your team’s interactions and business performance.
The Benefits of Cloud Computing Services
Cloud computing providers offer extensive and quickly scalable computing capability and economies of scale. It is ideal for startups and medium-sized businesses looking to increase productivity without investing in the necessary physical IT infrastructure.
Here are nine benefits of using cloud computing services compared to traditional IT resources.
1. Reduced overhead costs
There’s no need for you to invest in more physical hardware and software. You use less power and spend less on maintenance, including IT experts who do the work for you. Companies that use cloud computing resources can increase or reduce capacity according to demand, cutting wastage and ensuring cost efficiency.
They can also rent server space, assured that the host would provide them with the latest versions each time. Renting also does away with having to buy added physical servers and the costs of maintaining them.
2. Enhanced productivity
They do away with time-consuming IT management tasks, leaving you more time to be productive and concentrate on more urgent business tasks.
3. Easy installation and maintenance
Unlike traditional computing, you can quickly and easily set up cloud computing because it requires no hardware or software to install.
4. Economies of scale
Cloud computing services run on a worldwide network of secure data centers compared to one typical corporate data center. This ability increases output while lowering operating costs.
5. Worldwide reach
Delivery of IT resources, i.e., servers, computing power, databases, bandwidth, analytics, networking, software, intelligence, etc., from anywhere in the world.
6. Quick availability
Service is on-demand (self-service), and resources are made available in minutes.
7. Better security
Cloud computing services supply the necessary policies and technologies to enhance your security and protect your data and applications from cyber threats.
8. Guaranteed reliability
You can quickly and cost-effectively back up data on the cloud provider’s network. That makes disaster recovery faster and ensures business continuity.
9. Flexibility in the choice of location.
The cost of cloud computing services differs according to the site of the host’s virtual infrastructure. Users have the flexibility to choose the location that offers the lowest price without sacrificing quality.
Risks Associated with Cloud Computing Services
Cloud computing may have many excellent benefits, but it also has its share of disadvantages. Individuals and organizations that use the services must watch out for the following risks:
1. A magnet for cyber-attack
As more organizations migrate to the cloud, they bring with them a massive concentration of data for storage which makes the cloud environment a prime target for cybercriminals. If you use cloud computing services, get assurance from your provider that they are giving your data adequate protection through stringent access controls, continuous vulnerability monitoring, and up-to-date patching and configuration management.
2. Loss of Internet connectivity
The Internet is the lifeline of cloud computing services, so any interruption can affect your business and cause downtime. Make sure your cloud provider has reliable protocols to ensure Internet connectivity at all times. It will help to review their plans on how to go about it.
If there is any doubt about their capability, or if you find a vulnerability, it would be wise to take your business elsewhere.
3. Lack of data privacy and security compliance
When you transfer data to your cloud storage provider, you turn over control of their privacy and safety. If your provider does not take your data’s secrecy and security requirements seriously, it can commit lapses that compromise data integrity and ruin your reputation.
Make sure that your host is compliant with strict data privacy regulations. They include the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability), PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), and more.
Non-compliance can cause a breach that will be damaging to your business and your clients. It can also result in the seizure of data-hosting servers by authorities causing costly interruption.
4. Untested disaster recovery capability
One of the most significant selling points of cloud computing is secure data backup which is essential in disaster recovery. However, not all providers have proven capabilities in this regard. It is crucial to inquire from the start if it has had experience in successful backup and disaster recovery or tested their procedures in real situations.
If it cannot give that assurance, it would be best to look for other prospects with that capability.
5. Lack of third-party audit report
Data auditing through an independent third-party audit is crucial to check the integrity of data. However, some cloud providers hesitate to produce such information upon the demand of the user. If they do, they will ask you to pay the cost of its production.
Third-party auditing is crucial to encourage a host to be more careful with its service, so you must stipulate it in the contract.
6. Lack of vulnerability assessment
Should a provider agree to produce a third-party audit report, it usually excludes testing results on the provider’s infrastructure. A provider’s reluctance and even refusal to submit to penetration testing is due to concerns of getting negative feedback from the test. However, without such a scan, you cannot have full confidence in the provider’s competence and reliability.
7. Insider threats
Human error is as much a threat on the ground as it is in the cloud. When you entrust your data to a cloud provider, you effectively surrender control over them. They become subject to the host’s safekeeping and, thus, vulnerable to a breach caused by an adverse human action that can either be accidental or intentional.
8. Intervention from government
The cloud has become a popular haven for keeping confidential files. However, some of them may be subject to a government’s anti-crime or anti-trust laws. For this reason, data may be open to regulatory scrutiny to ensure that they abide by the rules.
If you store your files in the cloud and they get hacked, can you sue the provider?
At first glance, it would seem that the provider, being the custodian, should be held liable. But existing laws clearly say that the data owner, or the individual or company that brought the data for storage, is responsible for data breach and will be required to pay any fees that result from legal action.
The user is responsible for securing the endpoints that it uses to access cloud services. Any lapse that results in a breach is its fault.
However, it can bring a claim against the provider if the latter has been negligent in performing its service to keep the data secure during storage. Another ground is if they have agreed that the host will shoulder full responsibility in case of a breach or data loss.
Emerging Trends in Cloud Computing
As cloud computing continues to evolve, experts predict the technology to expand to $120 Billion in 2021. Increased cloud spending will trigger trends in the use of cloud computing as providers combine their offerings and more organizations adopt the technology.
1. Cloud gaming will change the way we play and get entertained.
If you are a fan of video games, you will be thrilled to learn that cloud gaming platforms will open large databases of your favorite games. They will be brought directly to your gaming console for an affordable monthly subscription. The days when you must buy the latest expensive hardware to keep playing your favorites are over. Music and video buffs will also enjoy video and music streaming in high definition from cloud entertainment platforms.
2. Users will go for hybrid cloud environments forcing providers to offer better services.
Organizations that use cloud computing will combine services from different providers resulting in hybrid or multi-cloud environments. This change in customer attitude will enhance cloud performance and security because it will force providers to offer better options to keep their customers.
3. Cloud-managed workstations will be on the rise.
More people will work from their laptops or desktops using a managed IT service delivered from the cloud. This model became the new normal during the pandemic when many organizations had no choice but to resort to remote teams during the lockdowns. Desktop as a service is cost-efficient because you only pay for the number of hours you spend working on your device.
A provider will manage the service from a central location to ensure that everyone on the team is on the same page. You do not need to spend on hardware updates, and there is a range of subscription plans you can choose from using the latest computing technology.
4. Regulators will maximize the security of cloud data.
Authorities will enforce much stricter policies to protect the privacy of personally identifiable information (PII) before cloud providers move them to the cloud. One of the measures is to require encryption. Another is the embedding of data governance and security tools into business systems.
Both steps will ensure quick data availability and maximum security while accessing sensitive information from the cloud.
5. Cloud computing will get a boost from artificial intelligence (AI)
Cloud computing will use machine learning to take on massive workloads and complex computations. It will make cloud solutions more reliable, streamlined, and accurate.
Cloud-based platforms, such as SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS, will be able to leverage machine learning on any budget to boost productivity, logistical efficiency, and profitability.
6. The cloud will integrate edge computing to create more accessible applications.
The cloud employs centralized data centers, resulting in latency if you access data away from the source. On the other hand, edge computing cuts latency by processing data without sending it to the cloud. By integrating edge computing into the cloud, providers can deliver applications quickly to access content without time delay.
7. PaaS will continue to grow as more companies adopt work-from-home arrangements for their teams.
When the pandemic struck, most businesses had no choice but to use cloud applications to manage workloads via remote teams. The encouraging results will keep PaaS resources in demand as developers use the framework to create cloud-native productivity applications while working from home. Experts predict a 27% growth for PaaS in 2021, overtaking the usual frontrunner SaaS, increasing by 16%.
8. Amazon’s cloud dominance will face a strong challenge.
As users show a growing preference for mixing cloud services from different providers, Amazon Web Services’ competitors will collaborate and devise joint cloud offerings that take advantage of their joint proprietary strengths.
Microsoft Azure and Oracle Cloud did it when they linked up in 2019. It improved their competitive chances against AWS which dominates the cloud infrastructure market with a 33% global share. In contrast, the leader’s three largest competitors have a joint market share of 32% (Microsoft Azure 19%, Google Cloud 7%, and Alibaba Cloud 6%).
9. Providers will minimize, if not eliminate, cloud wastage and operational inefficiency.
Cloud wastage results from a user’s insufficient skills in making the most out of cloud infrastructure. Such operational inefficiency is costly overall, but it also inhibits the industry’s growth because it discourages potential customers from using the technology.
To boost user confidence, cloud providers will strive to ensure efficient cloud computing use and cost control. This move will complement the latest application stacks and maximize cloud technology’s benefits.
Take Your Computing to the Next Level
Cloud computing is one of the main engines driving business transformation and revolutionizing an individual user’s digital experience. The technology will continue to grow, and its services will touch on every aspect of our work and lifestyles. Do not be left behind in using its many benefits.
Talk to a CyberHAWKS expert for a no-obligation consultation that will take your cloud computing to the next level through fully scalable services at a flat-rate fee.
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