Cloud Computing – A Better Way To Do IT

Posted in Operations & IT Articles, Total Reads: 2036 , Published on 22 September 2012

Cloud computing has been talked about since long. Though it has received a lot of attention from media and individuals, it is not always clearly defined. To start with it’s a computer subscription service much like our e-mail clients like Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail. The email clients take care of the storage space, the necessary hardware and software to support our personal emails.

Similarly when a cloud service is used an individual need not worry about the hardware, the network storage space and the softwares that he wants to use. It’s like your email account that can be accessed from anywhere just by accessing the Internet. All word documents, power point presentations, movies can be stored on this cloud and accessed wherever and whenever you want without physically being present at the location where the data is stored. This helps businesses to function smoothly as one can access the particular cloud of the organization, work on the softwares, store the data and yes that’s the beauty of the cloud!

You are saved from installing softwares on your machine, saved from worrying about security and privacy. Everything is being taken care of by the cloud provider. Consider a case where you need to review a document for a client presentation, you can pick up your smartphone, access the cloud and review it wherever you are. That’s how easy it is. Cloud can create wonders!

Now let’s see how a traditional organization can be transformed into a cloud.

Traditional IT systems: This is what most of the IT organizations have at present. The servers, software licenses, the backup devices and the telephone equipments are all present on the business site. With this complex technological structure IT Consultants are hired to work for the company (Note – here’s the additional cost). A variety of softwares and storage centres need to be maintained and for this companies/organizations have IT helpdesk who install the software, manage licenses, look after upgradations of softwares, antivirus updates, in a nutshell it’s difficult to maintain IT infrastructure of a large organization. So in many cases IT helpdesk staff is overloaded and business sometimes may get delayed due to IT.

Some companies may have managed data centres but still the equipments, software, licenses all belong to the company and the IT staff still may be required to manage that data centre. This option may seem better than the traditional system and it may look a bit cleaner but still involves cost and maintenance.

Now think of something like this. You have a software free, hardware free, license free, server free and antivirus free company. Sounds Good!!! You do not have to think about data storage, buying of servers, buying of equipments and updating of software. Life’s so easy! The IT helpdesk is not required! Imagine no logging of IT Tickets to solve a certain problem. Yes it’s not a fairly tale. Let’s have a look at how it can be achieved. Software applications will be deployed as a service; infrastructure will be deployed as a service. These services are delivered over the internet and are called cloud computing services. This kind of a service thus provides economies of scale as well because the companies who subscribe to the cloud service need not worry about upgradations and upcoming technologies.

As of today a common stack of services are deployed example email, storage, telephone that does not require much labour and the cost in borne by the subscriber. This is much lesser than incurring all the costs alone.

Types of Cloud

1. Public Cloud - A public cloud can be accessed by any subscriber with an internet connection eg. Email subscriptions for general public

2. Private Cloud - A private cloud is established for a specific group or organization and limits access to that group. E.g. email of a particular company or a cloud specifically for a company.

3. Community Cloud - A community cloud is shared among two or more organizations that have similar requirements. – E.g. a company spread across the globe or a sister concern which might be operating on the same data model.

4. Hybrid Cloud - A hybrid cloud is essentially a combination of at least two clouds; the clouds included are a mixture of public, private or community.

Cloud Computing services are today available for nearly every service company provides or uses. For providing data centre facilities the necessary security, servers and hardware is present as services provided by the cloud. Technology infrastructure is present in the form of email collaboration, messaging, telecom, file services, database, network, server operating system. Business support system is there as CRM, Ecommerce, Business Intelligence, ERP, and document management.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Traditional and Cloud Computing services

  • Traditional services requires IT staff for maintenance, Upgradations are required , cost is involved data centres need to be maintained as well
  • Traditional computing services gives control over ones systems, ability to customize the services and ability to compute without the internet.
  • The only disadvantage that can be seen with cloud is the internet connectivity but nowadays internet connectivity is inevitable. There’s no life without the .com.
  • There are several advantages of cloud. Employees can work anywhere they want. Lower capital expenditure, more focus is not delivering the business that focuses on procuring technology and setting up the organization and then start working on the projects. There is no need to worry about setting up systems, faster implementations are there. The best part is you pay only for the services you need thus saving infrastructure costs. No need to worry about disaster management.

Types of Cloud Providers

1. Software as a Service - A SaaS provider gives subscribers access to both resources and applications. SaaS does not require you to have a physical copy of software installed on your device. In Saas type of cloud the subscriber has least amount of control on the cloud.

2. Platform as a Service - A PaaS system goes a level above the Software as a Service setup. A PaaS provider gives subscribers access to the components that they require to develop and operate applications over the internet.

3. Infrastructure as a Service - An IaaS agreement deals primarily with computational infrastructure. In an IaaS agreement, the storage and resources such as hardware and software are outsourced. In this kind of a setup the user has more control over the cloud service.

Cornerstones of Cloud Computing - There is a lot of personal information and secure data that people store on their computers, and this information is now being transferred to the cloud. Thus it’s necessary to understand the security measures that the cloud provider has. These vary from provider to provider and among the various types of clouds. We should consider the following things, encryption methods provided, methods of protection for the hardware that the data will be stored on, methods of backup available, firewall set up.

We should be careful if we have a community cloud. We should be aware of the barriers in place to keep the information separate from other companies. Many cloud providers have standard terms and conditions that may answer these questions. No matter how careful we are with our personal data, by subscribing to the cloud we will be giving up some control to an external source. The distance between us and the physical location of our data creates a barrier. It may also create more space for a third party to access our information.

However, most cloud providers will have a great deal of knowledge on how to keep the data safe. A provider likely has more resources and expertise than the average user to secure their computers and networks.

To conclude and sum it up with an example, if you are starting up your company and you have a website-hosted on a server and the company is growing; more people are visiting the website thus increasing the traffic. Service slows down, fewer people use the service as this gets slow and the equipment cannot keep up with the growing traffic.

To resolve this issue you need more services and then incur the cost of setting it up. IT Staff is required to do it. Few years ago there was no choice but today the same can be done by cloud computing. Host the website on a cloud where if you need to make it scalable you can instantly do that by demanding more power. As the traffic increases need for power increases, without cloud computing you need to provide the power all the time even when you don’t need it, you have to pay for site’s maintenance and installation.

Now with cloud computing no physical equipment is required, you can turn off and power whenever you want. One need not focus on hardware and thus save time and money. It can be applied for almost any application. Few years down the line and we will all be working on a cloud!

This article has been authored by Aastha Agarwal from SP Jain Global School of Management.



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