Cloud Computing: Meaning and characteristics

Cloud Computing: Meaning and characteristics

A report by Gartner Inc reflected that cloud computing will constitute the bulk of IT spending by 2016. In India alone, it is predicted that the cloud market will reach over $3 billion by next year—an almost five- fold increase from 2012.

Cloud Computing: Meaning and characteristics

According to the official NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) definition, “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.”

The NIST definition lists five essential characteristics

On-demand self-service
Broad network access
Resource pooling
Rapid elasticity or expansion
Measured service
A simple example of cloud computing is Yahoo email, Gmail, or Hotmail etc. All you need is just an internet connection and you can start sending emails. The server and email management software is all on the cloud (internet) and is totally managed by the cloud service provider Yahoo, Google etc. The consumer gets to use the software alone and enjoy the benefits.

With cloud computing, multiple users can access a single server to retrieve and update their data without purchasing licenses for different applications. If required, they can be managed by a third party vendor, known as ‘cloud brokers’.

Depending on your company’s IT needs you need to choose a specific deployment and service model from the various models available.

The different deployment models are:

a. Private cloud is cloud infrastructure operated solely for a single organization

b. Public cloud is when the services are rendered over a network that is open for public use.

c. Community cloud shares infrastructure between several organizations from a specific community with common concerns

d. Hybrid cloud is a composition of two or more clouds

e. Multi-cloud is the use of multiple cloud computing services in a single heterogeneous architecture

The different service models available are:

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

With SaaS, the cloud service provider hosts your enterprise applications and associated data on its servers and storage systems. Users gain access to SaaS applications using a Web browser. This service is most suitable for those who want to spend less and reap reap more benefits. Example- Microsoft Office

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

With IaaS, the provider offers virtual machines, physical servers, storage, switching, and connectivity resources to run your enterprise applications on a pay-as-you-go basis. You are responsible for installing and maintaining the operating system and application or virtual machine; the provider is responsible for managing the infrastructure hardware that the applications or virtual machines run on. Example- Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone service

Platform as a service provider (PaaS)

Here, the customer can deploy their own application and tools instead of purchasing and managing the hardware and software. This results in the reduction of cost. Example- Amazon Web Services

Advantages of Cloud Computing

1. Reduce capital costs- no need to spend big money on hardware, software or licensing fees.

2. Achieve economies of scale – increase volume output or productivity with fewer people. Your cost per unit, project or product plummets.

3. Offers Security- the cloud provider provides virus and firewall protection to prevent hackers and

4. Anywhere, Any Time Collaboration- easier to collaborate with colleagues from outside the organization

5. More reliable and consistent- more work done in less time with less people. People worldwide can access the cloud leading to globizing the workforce.

Cloud Computing also poses some potential drawbacks such as privacy concerns, server-down issues and limited control but its advantages easily outweigh the drawbacks. Cloud Computing with its manifold opportunities, requires careful planning, regular review of policies and effective control in order to avail maximum benefits.

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