The data that you store, manage and process on your computer or a domestic network allows personal computing in a limited sense. The cloud is a breakthrough that makes it possible to share your data with people and organizations on a global scale.
When data resides in a cloud, you are moving information from your personal computer to a higher domain. The same data is now accessible through the internet using a network of remote servers.
Cloud computing services "host" your information on remote servers, accessible to others through the world web. As a user, you do not own or buy the hardware (servers); instead, you rent server space to park your applications and data. You avoid costly hardware upgrades, and you won't be paying an army of software engineers to keep you in business.
Cloud technology gives you the kind of computing power which is flexible, scalable, and cost-effective. It makes you efficient enough to globalize the power and reach of your business.
If you were content doing business in the cool isolation of Houston, Texas, think again; when you're on the cloud, the whole world knows you've arrived. The footfalls in your "online store" undergo dramatic escalation. Clients as divergent as the Asians and the Aussies will be ringing your cash registers 24/7/365.
Talking of downsides; cloud computing makes you more or less dependent on the service provider for your computing needs. The provider stores information layered in security protocols. If these safety measures aren't strong enough, unauthorized entities might access or change data. The telecommunication backbone must be strong enough to allow storage and retrieval of information in real time. Once you get used to the value added services in the cloud, it becomes unthinkable to revert back to personal computing.
The diversity of cloud computing models
We see three supremos dominating the rarefied heights of cloud computing:
In this model, the provider hosts software applications like Adobe creative apps, Google apps, and Microsoft Office 365. You can run these apps through your browser without bothering to install them.
When you ride the SaaS bandwagon, you avoid purchasing expensive hardware. You don't license new software, nor do you hire IT experts to install, service, and upgrade them.
The cloud user follows a simple pay-as-you-go model, operable monthly. This way, users can tie recurring expenses to actual usage. With SaaS, you leash expenses to a sustainable budget. You also enjoy the option of terminating SaaS packages when you feel the need to downsize the budget.
With SaaS, users have the option of escalating or reducing their level of access to services and features. This enables cost cutting on a larger scale.
It is the SaaS provider's responsibility to upgrade and patch the software. This frees the user's IT personnel to focus on company goals.
With SaaS, you move beyond the confines of your desktop computer. Users enjoy instant data access through any internet enabled device from any location anywhere in the globe.
Potential drawbacks of SaaS are server downtime, service disruptions, and billing issues. A data breach may compromise clients’ access to services. This is all the more reason to choose your SaaS provider with care. Users must be watchful of the provider’s obligations linked to the service agreement.
Companies use SaaS to smarten up group emailing systems, sales operations, and billings. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Human Resource Management are key areas that benefit by SaaS integration.
CRM giant, Salesforce is a SaaS provider with a huge client base. Oracle Integrated Cloud Applications, SAP Enterprise Risk Management Solutions, and Microsoft are others.
This platform is ideal for applications developers. Companies can build, store, and run applications through PaaS servers accessible on demand. The PaaS platform comes enabled with an Application Programming Interface (API). There are web portals targeting specific users. PaaSgateway software helps different programs and forums to communicate in a smarter way.
IT experts and companies pool their talents to design apps that optimize business performance. PaaS enables faster integration among business segments. Without PaaS, companies would be spending tons of money managing hardware and operating systems. The money saved can contribute to improving and managing apps. The entire heavy lifting involved in hardware and software maintenance comes within the domain of the PaaS provider.
The Google App Engine and Salesforce.com are popular PaaS platforms. Apache Stratos with its advanced Automated Resource Management system (ARMS) is another example.
This represents cloud computing at its peak. Companies use IaaS when they need massive IT infrastructure to escalate business volumes.
IaaS creates huge data centers with vast web storage space, powered by a fleet of high capacity servers. Users and customers get faster internet access. Only government organizations and defense corporations could access this scale of computing power.
Traditional IT infrastructure models rent out space within a restricted hardware configuration. They bill you even for services you might not be using. The IaaS service provider foots the bill for hardware and software maintenance. The user bears only a periodical pay-as-you-go fee on actual usage. IaaS enables companies to scale their configuration to accommodate aggressive business growth models
Amazon Web Services(AWS) which Netflix uses to stream videos and movies online, is an IaaS platform. Microsoft Azure, and Google Compute Engine (GCE) which powers Google’s search engine, Gmail, and YouTube, are similar services.
This is the online version of Microsoft office applications like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The user need not pay and install licensed software on a Personal computer.
Users upload, store and retrieve their files and spreadsheets online. Remote servers synchronize files with data on computers and handheld devices.
This is an online repository for storage and retrieval of files and folders. The content is shareable worldwide.
Apple provides cloud computing space on remote servers. Users working on iOS, macOS or Windows can store and retrieve documents, images, and music.
Cloud computing is a marriage blessed in “heaven.” It unifies advanced computing infrastructure, people, and organizations. Data and services become scalable, efficient, and cost effective in a way that benefits business.
It’s a huge lift off from the terrestrial personal computing experience to a global ecosystem.In cloud computing, the whole world collaborates to help you maximize your potential.
Paul Maritz, CEO of VMware was bang on when he said “Cloud is about how you do computing, not where you do computing.”