Posted in Operations & IT Articles, Total Reads: 1140
, Published on 20 August 2015
Decades back when the first computer was made, experts claimed that the smallest space a computer needs will be the size of a room. The claims crumbled into the rubble of history. Little would have they predicted that with time, innovations will unfold at such scales that will allow users to access and use resources that are located remotely to them. One of those major innovative breakthroughs that potentially chariots the future of information technology sector is Cloud Computing.
The vision of cloud computing roots itself to the concept of intergalactic computer network, a concept introduced by J.C.R. Licklider with a foresight that the entire globe is connected and every individual has the privilege to access programs and data at any site and from anywhere. So, the foundation in which cloud computing believes is, why buy the product when you can rent it and own it for the time you need!
Cloud computing is a practise which involves use of network servers that are located at remote locations. End users can access these servers through internet and avail the services. Cloud technology is on surge as it turns out to be cheaper, faster and easy to maintain because customers have to shell out only for what they need.
Out of many features and benefits it provides, one thing that helps cloud reach every nook and corner of the current globe is the unique technology called XaaS. XaaS stands for ‘Anythingas-a-service’. X could be replaced with anything that can be used as a service as per our requirements and demands. We could replace X in XaaS with S for software (SaaS), N for network (NaaS), I for infrastructure (IaaS), P for platform (PaaS). The list of X is nonexhaustive and can stand for Backup as a service, Archive as a service, Database as a service, Video as a service, and Music as a service and what not.
The amazing part is that we as users are deeply engrossed in using its services without even realizing that we would find it impossible to come out of the web of it. The examples are not far to seek. Websites of our daily use such as Facebook, Google, and Picasa are only a few examples of cloud users.
YouTube is a perfect example of video as a service. The advent of smartphones has taken the use of cloud to new heights. Mobile apps such as WhatsApp, Saavn, and Google Maps etc. are widely used application which extensively use cloud technology. Other popular web services that use this are Amazon web services, Google doc, Dropbox, Dash lane and others.
Other organizations too are migrating into cloud domain. For few, Cloud has operating has become inevitable. It has also been able to penetrate deep into all possible sectors like manufacturing, service, healthcare, education etc. With the arrival of cloud technologies, companies are bypassing its normal IT way where they have to dedicatedly spend on IT infrastructure. Instead they are taking XaaS way where they can possibly replace X with any service/services specific to their domain. Cloud service providing companies are taking the advantages of the situation. Their customers do not want to maintain the complex IT infrastructure by themselves. Hence cloud companies keep the hassle of maintaining the IT infrastructure with themselves and provide their customers with paid services.
What benefits does it offer?
• Trade capital expense: Before the Cloud came into picture the biggest challenge firms faced was them being unaware of how much resources would they actually use. They ended up wasting lot of efforts and incurring huge costs even for the resources unused. With the invent of cloud, firms need not pay hefty amounts for the data centres. It facilitates users for paying for the amount of their exact utility.
• Software Update: Cloud computing suppliers take the onus of server maintenance and software update from time to time thereby freeing up their customers’ time and resources for other tasks.
• Economies of scale: By using cloud computing, lower variable cost is achieved than one can get using traditional methods. Reason being that usage from numerous customers are
aggregated in the cloud, and hence providers can achieve higher economies of scale which translates into lower service rates.
• Backup Services: Unlike traditional technologies where data is lost once the system crashes, cloud technology makes sure that the data could be recovered even after such crashes
• Environmental Friendly: Businesses using cloud computing only use the server space they need, which in turn decreases the carbon footprint. Using the cloud results in less energy consumption and carbon emissions than using regular servers.
• Easy networking of the workforce: The firms could advantage from the fact that Cloud makes networking of the workforce spread across the entire globe cheaper and easier.
• Reduced total cost of ownership: A major advantage the cloud provides to the end user is the
reduction of cost needed for the resources required.
• Expanding the horizon: It empowers end users to use without limitations and boundaries. It also provides the flexibility of working from any remote location.
What can cloud offer for the future?
The world is increasing its dependency on technology which in turn is increasing cloud computing significant. With increasing smart phones and use of extensive software, there is a huge potential in cloud computing market.
Companies are segmenting based on the type of cloud. For example they are migrating to private cloud from shared clouds. Major cloud players such as Google App Engine, Amazon Web Services, Salesforce Force.com, and Microsoft Windows Azure sees a huge potential in the technology and thus investing heavy in these services.
In a country like India where service sector constitutes 57% of GDP and IT sector has dominance over other sectors, cloud computing has a huge potential market. With the new government focusing on e-governance which is heavily backed by cloud technology, cloud would catch up a new pace.
The Other Side:
With the benefits it provides, Cloud unarguably will enjoy an omnipresence in the years to come. But with the technology advancements, experts are concerned about the security issues related with cloud computing. The remote storage always makes it prone to cyber crime. With such high accessibility, the currently used security protocols makes the data vulnerable. The Data duplication is another concern that has to be addressed to assure users to rely on cloud services. System administrators too having a tough time in mapping a contingency plan for backup of data and protecting them. Over dependency on cloud may turn out to be a drawback in case on failure of network connectivity or issues with the internet as the whole setup is accessible only with internet connection. Even if the network of the cloud service provider is down or slow, your services also run slow.
The decision makers of IT need to be well informed not only about security setbacks but also they need to be aware on the price and performance that a cloud supplier is providing. If something goes wrong, a company has to bear the burden of loss of important data as well as loss of revenues. The business of traditional hardware and software vendors is facing a downside with many business going the cloud way. Also with the cloud there a limited control over the hardware and software since the services run on a virtual environment.
The Cloud services would be embraced with higher assurance if and only if a reliable encryption process ties with other security measures that assure users of safety and addresses every possible concern for them. Cloud would be a global giant. The utilities the cloud system carry and the flexibility it provides to the end users undoubtedly will help it dominate the global arena in coming years. At least till the time when we innovate something bigger!
This article has been authored by Rajendra Thakur from Goa Institute of Management
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