A brief overview of Cloud Computing

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If you yourself wondering what this cloud computing thing is and how it works, don’t worry you are not alone. When asked recently in a management poll there were over 40% of managers that couldn’t adequately describe cloud computing and how it helped their business although all were using it in some way or another. There are things that we use and do every day that we never even think about and cloud computing is one of those things. It’s the background. Its unseen servers that host the applications we run. Most of you will have at least one app on your phone that utilizes cloud computing to some extent. Cloud computing for business is comprised of three things, SaaS (Software as a service), Paas (Platform as a service.) and IaaS (Infrastructure as a service). The names of these services do a good job of explaining what they are and what they do. They are offerings of infrastructure, platform and software as a service to your business for a fee. The sky is the limit and the Cloud is the future.

Submitted: August 18, 2017

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Submitted: August 18, 2017

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A brief Overview of Cloud Computing

If you yourself wondering what this cloud computing thing is and how it works, don’t worry you are not alone. When asked recently in a management poll there were over 40% of managers that couldn’t adequately describe cloud computing and how it helped their business although all were using it in some way or another.  There are things that we use and do every day that we never even think about and cloud computing is one of those things. It’s the background. Its unseen servers that host the applications we run. Most of you will have at least one app on your phone that utilizes cloud computing to some extent. Cloud computing for business is comprised of three things,  SaaS (Software as a service),  Paas (Platform as a service.) and IaaS (Infrastructure as a service).  The names of these services do a good job of explaining what they are and what they do. They are offerings of infrastructure, platform and software as a service to your business for a fee. 

How does this help me?

Cloud computing consists of data centers around the world and they allow you create a space on their IT infrastructure (IaaS) for a nominal fee. In return you get a network that is remotely managed and maintained and you can then set up your systems in your rented space. In the business world this equates to savings. Sometimes substantial costs are avoided by setting up a new network or adding onto an existing infrastructure. This can be a particularly enticing option when you have low capital to invest in your IT infrastructure.  If you can rent space on an existing set of servers and hardware that would cost millions to replicate and have the advantages of a network that size without all the risk of owning, housing and maintaining it yourself, it can be a very appealing solution.

You could say the same for SaaS and Paas. Software companies are moving in the direction of software as a service more and more. It eliminates piracy and allows them to collect more data on how their software is used.  The software runs from their servers in the cloud and you only access it through your account. Just like any online application like Survey Monkey or SalesForce.com . You have complete control over access, the entire application and the code that runs it. This, of course, benefits in you many ways.

You need a platform just as much as you need the infrastructure, especially if you intend to build any custom systems in your hosted infrastructure. Just the server space on a network won’t do much for you without a platform and software.  Paying for the service of a hosted platform (PaaS) might again be a frugal choice for the startup or the company with a limited IT budget. The type of platform you choose will depend on many factors but in the end it will come down to going with what you know.

Ok, but how does it work?

Cloud computing is a rather simple setup in actuality. You have a controlling server that monitors and controls all the servers and computers connected to it. It monitors and manages traffic and demands and generally keeps the system running smoothly. It also serves as an interface for all these computers to talk to each other. It accomplishes this using middleware.  This allows for a more complex and robust network.

 

What are the drawbacks?

Of course a cloud-based solution is not for everyone. Some companies have the money to fund new or upgrade old infrastructure and they would rather invest it so that they can completely control access to their data, servers, code and intellectual property. Not that you can’t expect a high level of security from cloud-based solutions, but when you host your entire business on someone else’s systems, you can’t be entirely certain that your network is completely secure.  From the corporate perspective that has been one of the more traditional arguments against utilizing cloud computing more for business data. No company on this planet wants to risk its data. The other drawback is more obvious, in that the applications, platforms or infrastructures are all relying on your ability to connect to them at least for updates and access to certain functionality. If the internet is down, if there is a gap somewhere, how does that affect you? (Usually this is addressed well by redundancy.) So, the solution might be somewhere in between for some companies.  These issues are enough to give most IT managers nightmares at night. Security and privacy are a constant pressure point for any organization. 

To sum it all up

At the end of the day, you have to figure out what works for your company. What is the safest way you can leverage the power and pricing of the cloud versus traditional solutions. Where does it make sense to save the money and where is it justifiably spent. Just like everything it has its pros and cons:

PROS

  • Cheaper on the hardware side.  Especially appealing to start-ups and low IT budget
  • Infrastructure is set up, managed, maintained offsite which results in savings in space and power
  • The ability to connect from anywhere
  • Faster than traditional systems to set up and maintain
  • The cloud uses the power of many computers
  • Redundancy
  • Multiple backups

CONS

  • Offsite
  • Security
  • Privacy
  • Control
  • connectivity

 

In the world of IT management, you have to roll with the changes and have the foresight to see which components will serve you best and where. You have to account for both the reasons for and against taking a particular course of action. In today’s world we have integrated, augmented and segmented networks that intermingle to deliver us the digital experience.  You have to find the solution that fits your company. In the end, like most other things in business, if it serves your clients better, you have probably made the right choice. 

 


© Copyright 2017 Mike Pereira. All rights reserved.

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