Cloud computing is not a new concept, as it was once known as SaaS. However, the concept is being implemented in a whole new way.
As network speed and reliability improve, many businesses are turning to Internet services for their computing requirements. Cloud refers to applications delivered as services over the Internet, from computers based in a provider’s data centers. The older term for this is Software as a Service (SaaS), but the terms cloud or utility computing have become the more popular names for the concept in recent years. The term ‘cloud computing can also be applied to the actual computer hardware infrastructure which runs a software service.
Businesses contemplating the adoption of cloud technologies may remember the hype around SaaS in the early 2000s. One main reason for the switch in terminology from SaaS to Cloud Computing has been the perceived failure of SaaS as a feasible computing model for most applications.
Many now see SaaS as a failed first attempt at providing shared computing infrastructure to the masses, which has finally been usurped by the next generation of much more viable technology – cloud or utility computing. The success of the cloud computing trend compared to SaaS is that there have been significant technological advances and certain combinations of economic factors that have made the model possible the second time around.
Economic conditions for Cloud computing success
The global economic difficulties of the past three years mean that many companies have postponed the commitment of any budget towards a refresh of their IT hardware infrastructure. In the intervening time, technology has improved so that greater processing power is now available for less money. The economic downturn has also been the catalyst for technological innovation in terms of software development.
As developers were made redundant from larger companies, many decided to strike out on their own, thus creating a surfeit of small companies providing new Web 2.0 applications. The quality of the applications now available in the cloud means that many tasks are now possible that simply could not be done online in 2001-3. Now that companies are beginning to consider a small investment to refresh aging IT infrastructure technology, many managers are turning to cloud computing as a way to increase performance and reduce costs.
Types of Cloud Services
There are several types of cloud services available to businesses, and the decision as to which service is most appropriate must lie in the company’s requirements. Services like Amazon EC2 offer elastic compute cloud, meaning that only raw data processing power is available to subscribers. This is most useful for statistically oriented firms, which collect enormous amounts of data and require vast compute power to crunch data daily. Another type of cloud computing is hosting a specific part of a business application, such as CRM, Sage accounting, or online backup of company files.
There are several providers which offer combinations of these services. Because no software licenses or costly hardware need to be purchased, these selective services can be an excellent way to augment existing office computing infrastructure. The other kind of cloud computing is a fully hosted desktop environment. With a complete hosted solution, staff logs in to virtual desktops rather than the computers sitting on their desks. Services such as email, file storage, backup, and hosted applications are included in the package, meaning that companies no longer have to invest in hardware, software licenses, or maintenance of computing systems.
The concept of providing software as a service has been around for over a decade; however, the main difference between old SaaS providers and those dubbed cloud computing services is that the newer services can now offer high performance, secure, and highly functional applications at a reasonable price.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Cloud, SAAS, PAAS
Cloud computing has become the latest buzzword in giant organizations all over the globe. It seems to be the next big leap of technology that will change the way businesses work and manage their work. Cloud technology can be simply defined as a well-managed computing system based on sound co-relation of the computing system and the underlying architecture, which includes the servers, the databases, the networks, and more. With the help of cloud computing technology, businesses can manage all this with fewer efforts and infrastructure.
A simple example of cloud computing is salesforce.com. It uses cloud computing technology, and with its aid, it provides one of the best Customer Relationship Management (CRM) services to its clients. Salesforce.com uses some of the best software available for cloud computing and, in return, makes happy customers who can have single or multiple users. The customers of salesforce.com can use the expensive CRM tools without increasing infrastructure or increasing the number of employees for separately managing CRM. This is why cloud computing is also referred to as SaaS (Software as a Service).
IaaS and Paas
There are also other variants of cloud computing, namely infrastructure as a Service or Platform as a Service (IaaS or PaaS). Here the infrastructure is offered to the clients on the web for which the clients pay per their usage. Initially, it was also known as hardware as a Service.
Advantages of Cloud Computing
Small and medium-sized firms will be able to get the best advantages out of cloud computing systems. With the help of cloud computing, these firms get the benefit of the latest software and technology to manage their small setup without having to buy the costly them. They can simply pay minimum rental to use these technologies monthly or annually and benefit from them and manage their firm like larger organizations. They are exempt from the initial startup capital input for buying the costly software and technologies.
Cloud computing is also beneficial to larger organizations that are in a rapid expansion mode. They can easily continue to manage their new outlets anywhere globally with the same technology and maintain consistency in their organizational management without the startup costs of installing the new software and technology.
It also remains a win-win solution for all, given the consideration to saving energy and contributing to a greener environment. It reduces the need to physically installing PCs and curbs the usage of power as well.
Despite the advantages, the basic disadvantage of cloud computing- maintaining the secrecy of personal data. Larger companies are still unsure that their bulk data will be kept private over the Internet. Only strict rules for maintaining data privacy over cloud computing, as well as strict adherence to these rules, can alleviate this concern.
Wrapping it all up: Is it possible to assign a standard?
Cloud computing, as you are aware, is a relatively new technology that is just gaining steam. Companies of all shapes and sizes are now beginning to understand the true potential of this technology and are considering adopting it in their establishments. While this could work out beneficial for everyone concerned, there is also standardization in the cloud. Of course, there are now many SROs or Standards Development Organizations today, which are engaged in creating standards for cloud computing. However, is it possible to assign a standard in the cloud? Will these organizations succeed in their venture?
Because cloud computing is so new, it is rapidly evolving, which means it is always changing its look and feel.
However, the case is also true with all types of technology available today. The desktop computer was once the mainstay for everyone. Then came along the Internet, which lead to a tremendous boom in technology. The next introduction was that of mobile phones and, ultimately, smartphones and other mobile devices such as tablets, which help us compute as we commute.
Technology is a dynamic field, and so, all these aspects of technology continue to undergo rapid evolution and change. Yet, each of these ever-changing elements has also had certain standards of functioning. After all, it is the standards that help make decisions.
Factors discouraging the adoption of Cloud computing
- The present lack of standards, combined with the fear of present technology growing obsolete all too soon, discourages most business establishments from adopting cloud computing technology. Unless the proper infrastructure is laid out, switching to newer technologies can prove to be too expensive a proposition for companies, especially the smaller ones.
- Cloud computing is not entirely without standards either. It does use certain Internet standards, protocols, and programming interfaces. Sadly, though, the standards for configuration and management of these aspects are missing yet.
- Thirdly, there is no facility yet to integrate cloud services into the existing IT milieu today and exchange information between multiple clouds. The lack of proper standards also makes it difficult, if not impossible, for customers to select the right vendor for their needs.
Looking toward the future
The problems mentioned above notwithstanding, cloud computing is undoubtedly the future of technology. It is bound to change everything in its wake. Offering high-speed connectivity and rapid deployment across a vast range of mobile devices, this technology is poised to take the entire mobile industry by storm. However, in the absence of a common framework for functioning, it would become impossible for this technology to grow, evolve and flourish.
Cloud computing today is somewhat like the Internet of the yesteryears. It had taken tremendous effort and resources to standardize that medium. This technology is also likely to go through the same process. While some standards may become permanent, others may turn redundant over some time.
Ultimately, however, cloud computing standards will emerge to address the present challenges it faces in the market and solve issues in the future as and when they arrive. The development of these standards would be vital to the growth of this technology in the future.
About the author
Diane H. Wong is a search engine optimization specialist and freelance team manager. Besides, she is a writer at DoMyWriting, so she prefers to spend her spare time working out marketing strategies. In this case, she has an opportunity to share her experience with others and keep up with advancing technologies.