A remarkably simple way to understand Cloud Computing

By | October 23, 2017
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What is Cloud Computing

What is Cloud Computing?

By ordinary definition, cloud computing is simply internet-based computing. In details, it is an IT-based computer solution where shared resources can be easily accessed on demand. Computers that are in the cloud can be configured to function as a single unit by the compilation of various computing powers through an application. Cloud computing is basically with you everywhere. You use it to update your Facebook status or to check your bank balance from your phone, among other uses.

Components of Cloud Computing

In view of cloud computing, components are the platforms like the network used, cloud-based delivery and front and back end of the system. Cloud computing has several components as discussed below:

Storage-as-a-Service (SAAS)

This is also known as disk space on demand and is basically vital storage that works just the same way as physical storage. One can request or use this disk space on demand either publicly, communally or privately. Most of the other components of cloud computing are dependent on this base component.

Database-as-a-Service (DaaS)

This is the component that functions as a physical database through remotely. Although different providers have conflicting models of this cloud database shared by other users, the main technology behind it is a powerful database technology that would otherwise cost millions of dollars in software and hardware licenses were it to be physically applied.

Information-as-a-Service

This component enables users to consume all types of information be it for credit reporting, address validation or stock price information that is hosted remotely by a well-defined interface like API.

Application-as-a-Service (AaaS)

This is also known as software-as-a-service (SaaS) and is basically any application delivered to an end user over a Web platform. Many people are popular with some AaaS like Salesforce SFA but fewer people are aware of the fact that office automation applications like Google Calendar, Gmail, and Google Docs are also application-as-a-service.

There are other components of cloud computing that are also important, but that this article will only mention in passing. These include:

  • Platform-as-a-service (PaaS)
  • Integration-as-a-service
  • Testing-as-a-service (TaaS)
  • Security-as-a-service
  • Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS)
  • Management/governance-as-a-service
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Advantages of Cloud Computing

Many businesses, small, medium and large are looking into cloud computing to solve the everyday challenges that their businesses face. There are several reasons why businesses are finding it advantageous to move to the cloud.

  • Reduces carbon footprint – cloud computing is the latest data-efficient technology that involves many customers coming together to share infrastructure and naturally also space. This results in a more efficient use of energy resources.
  • Disaster Recovery – It’s recommended that all types of businesses invest in a robust disaster recovery methods. Unfortunately, this is in most cases not feasible for start-up and small-scale businesses. Cloud computing has made it easier for small businesses to back up their data. It’s time-saving, requires low investment and you get free third-party expertise.
  • Minimizes Costs – Cloud computing can help you save money by matching your demand/revenue pattern with your cost pattern. This will naturally move your business from the capital-intensive cost model to the Opex model. The cloud also naturally helps you to avoid spending on hardware and upgrades which can be costly sometimes.
  • Improves Security – The loss of a laptop can be devastating. Most people will not actually be mourning the loss of the laptop but that of the data inside it. Cloud computing means nothing that happens to your computer physically will affect your data. In fact, you can even erase all your data in the cloud remotely if you fear that it will get into the wrong hands.
  • Enhanced Flexibility – cloud computing has increase freedom for a lot of people to work from wherever they want. With many cloud services providing mobile apps, all you need to access any type of information of your documents is any smart gadget and the internet. This flexibility can improve productivity from your workers since they are able to enjoy a better work-life balance.

Types of Cloud Computing

There are basically two ways in which cloud computing is often described. This is either based on the service being offered by the cloud or based on the cloud location. Based on the service being offered by the cloud, the categories would be:

  • IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service
  • SaaS (Software-as-service
  • Paas (Platform-as-a Service)
  • Testing-as-a-Service, Management, Security, Integration, Application, Process, Information, Database or Storage.

Based on the location of cloud, there are 4 popular categories:

Public Cloud:

This is basically the internet. This type of cloud computing is what service providers use to make storage and applications like Gmail (Software-as-a-service) available for public consumption. Common public clouds include Google AppEngine, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Windows use Service Platform, Sun Cloud, and IBM’s Blue Cloud.

Because the cost of hardware, bandwidth and application are covered by the provider, these clouds are more financially feasible for users. Most providers charge on a pay-per-use model which is based on the amount of storage utilized. But public clouds may not be ideal for every organization due to the limitations that they create. The limits are mostly on SLA specificity, security, and configuration which bring up a security risk for sensitive data that must pass the compliance test.

Private Cloud:

This is basically where a cloud network or infrastructure is only used by one organization or customer although it’s located remotely. The customer can even choose the on-premise location of the cloud if it’s externally hosted. Although this is costlier, the client will get the physical control over the infrastructure. Most conglomerates and organizations have the privileges of enjoying the security offered by private clouds.

Hybrid Cloud:

This is a combination of both the public and private clouds. It is designed base on the interest of the company or individuals and their intended use. For instance, while an entrepreneur can let customers interact with the business through a public cloud, they can use the private cloud to ensure the security of the information.

Community Cloud:

This is a cloud infrastructure that is shared by multiple organizations. This mostly helps where there are concerns of data management and shared data. For example, a single country can own one community cloud either on or off-premise.

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Comparison between Cloud Providers Amazon, Google, and Microsoft

Making a good decision on which public cloud provider to choose can be challenging especially the decision is scale-based or binary in nature.  Binary decisions are basically those made when comparing features by cloud providers while scale-based decisions are mostly made on the overall performance.

However, a criterion for comparison can still be made through the mathematical method of Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP). This is a numerical scale that makes it possible to compare the different tasks.

Cost – Google is the cheapest amongst the three cloud providers, their prices being only half of Microsoft and Amazon.

Functionality – this is a tricky metric of companions since the services of the three competitors are different for instance Big Data, database, network, among others. All the three providers offer basic services such as databases, containers, virtual machines and network services (DS, Load-Balancers, VPN, and others). Only Microsoft and Amazon provide the Internet of Things (IoT) services. In summary, while Microsoft a Google only offers one service each, Amazon provides up to six unique services.

Sizing Criteria – this is based on the range and number of supported types of instances. With Amazon, you can choose from a variety of 29 instance types between 0.5-244 GB RAM and 1-32 CPUs. Microsoft has a variety of 25 instances and one can choose between 1-16 CPUs and 0.75-112 GB RAM. Google, on the other hand, provides 18 varieties of instance types which a customer can customize by requesting for only the resources they need. Google has 1-32 CPUs and 0.5-244 GB RAM.

Making a decision on the best public cloud provider, like with most other things, depends on individual needs and requirements.  Microsoft and Amazon are usually more preferred by people who want to set up a set of traditional services although a majority of other customers prefer Google.

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