There was a time when it was not possible to store data without any physical storage such as magnetic tapes, hard drives. Now the time has transmuted, we no longer require any physical storage for storage of our data. From my personal experience earlier for my pictures, I had to manage a photo album, but now I no longer require any marginally album but my pictures are directly stored in the cyber world. I can now access my pictures from any corner of the world with just a click. This is what we call in the technical language as “having data on cloud”. However, in broad terms, cloud is not a particular place that is assigned to our data, it is illimitably immensely colossal. Our data could be present at any corner of the world and we sitting at our homes or any part of the globe can access it.
The term “cloud” in cloud computing is the amassment of networks. The utilizer can utilize the modalities of cloud computing boundlessly whenever authoritatively mandated. In lieu of establishing their physical infrastructure, the users customarily prefer a mediator provider for the accommodation of the cyber world in cloud computing.
Consequently, a good commencement point for a definition of cloud computing is the definition issued by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST):
Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources such as networks, servers, storage, applications, and accommodations that can be expeditiously provisioned and relinquished with minimal management effort or accommodation provider interaction. This cloud model is composed of five essential characteristics, three accommodation models, and four deployment models. (The NIST Definition of Cloud Computing).
After going through the essential characteristics and models of the cloud mentioned at the cessation of the definition, let’s pause for a moment and consider the various aspects of cloud. Firstly, cloud provides elasticity i.e. growing or shrinking to match the requirements of a specific application. Scalability is another feature which means scaling our cloud infrastructure up or down according to our needs. Thirdly, the feature of durability plays an important role in ensuring data security and business continuity. Fourthly, disaster recovery feature is of outmost importance which ensures that our data and cloud infrastructure is up and running in no time in case of any unforeseen disaster.
Categorically, cloud computing offers an immensely colossal number of advantages. It dramatically lowers the cost of ingress for more minuscule firms endeavoring to benefit from compute-intensive business analytics that were hither to available only to the most astronomically immense of corporations. These computational exercises typically involve immensely colossal magnitudes of computing power for relatively short quantities of time, and cloud computing makes such dynamic provisioning of resources possible. Cloud computing withal represents an astronomically immense opportunity to many third-world countries that have been so far left behind in the IT revolution; some cloud computing providers are utilizing the advantages of a cloud platform to enable IT accommodations in countries that would have traditionally lacked the resources for widespread deployment of IT accommodations. It can provide virtually immediate access to hardware resources, with no upfront capital investments for users, leading to a more expeditious time to market in many businesses. Treating IT as an operational expense additionally avails in dramatically truncating the upfront costs in corporate computing. For example, many of the promising incipient Internet start-ups like 37 Signals, Jungle Disk, Gigavox, SmugMug and others were realized with investments in information technology that are orders of magnitude lesser than that required just a few years ago. The cloud becomes an adaptive infrastructure that can be shared by different end users, each of whom might utilize it in very different ways. The users are plenarily dissevered from each other, and the flexibility of the infrastructure sanctions for computing loads to be balanced on the fly as more users join the system.
The comeliness of the arrangement is that as the number of users goes up, the authoritative ordinance load on the system gets more balanced in a stochastic sense, even as its economies of scale expand. Cloud computing can lower IT barriers to innovation, as can be witnessed from the many promising start-ups, from the ubiquitous online applications such as Facebook and YouTube to the more focused applications like TripIt or Mint. Cloud computing makes it more facile for enterprises to scale their accommodations – which are increasingly reliant on precise information – according to client demand. Since the computing resources are managed through software, they can be deployed very expeditious as incipient requisites arise. In fact, the goal of cloud computing is to scale resources up or down dynamically through software APIs depending on client load with minimal accommodation provider interaction.
Cloud computing additionally makes possible incipient classes of applications and distributes accommodations that were not possible afore. Examples include mobile interactive applications that are location, environment and context cognizant and that respond in genuine time to information provided by human users, nonhuman sensors which include sultriness and stress sensors within a shipping container, or even from independent information accommodations such as ecumenical weather data; parallel batch processing, that sanctions users to capitalize on immensely colossal quantities of processing power to analyse terabytes of data for relatively minute periods of time, while programming abstractions like Google’s MapReduce or its open source obverse Hadoop makes the involute process of parallel execution of an application over hundreds of servers transparent to programmers; business analytics that can utilize the astronomical quantity of computer resources to understand customers, buying habits, supply chains and so on from voluminous amplitudes of data; and extensions of compute-intensive desktop applications that can offload the data crunching to the cloud leaving only the rendering of the processed data at the front-end, with the availability of network bandwidth minimizing the latency involved.
Albeit there are many benefits to adopting cloud computing, there are withal some paramount barriers to adoption. The first one being security and privacy; since cloud computing represents an incipient computing model, there is a great deal of dubiousness about how security at all levels can be achieved. That dubiousness has consistently led information executives to state that security is their number one concern with cloud computing. The competency of cloud computing to adequately address privacy regulations has been called into question. Organizations today face numerous different requisites endeavoring to forfend the privacy of one’s information, and it is not pellucid rather not yet established whether the cloud computing model provides adequate bulwark of such information, or whether organizations will be found in breach of regulations because of this incipient model.
Another factor that influences the adoption of cloud computing includes reliability. Enterprise applications are so critical that they must be reliable and available to fortify interminable operations. In the event of failure or outages, contingency plans must take effect smoothly, and for disastrous or catastrophic failure, recuperation plans must commence with minimum disruption. Each aspect of reliability should be meticulously considered when engaging with a Cloud Support Provider (CSP), negotiated as a component of the SLA, and tested in failover drills. Adscititious costs may be associated with the required levels of reliability; however, the business can do only so much to mitigate risks and the cost of a failure. Establishing a track record of reliability will be a prerequisite for widespread adoption.
Similarly, economic value additionally barriers the adoption. The magnification of cloud computing is predicated on the return on investment that accrues. It seems intuitive that by sharing resources to smooth out peaks, paying only for what is utilized, and cutting upfront capital investment in deploying IT solutions, the economic value will be there. There will be a desideratum to punctiliously balance all costs and benefits associated with cloud computing-in both the short and long terms. Obnubilated costs could include support, disaster instauration, application modification, and data loss indemnification. There will be threshold values whereby consolidating investments or cumulating cloud accommodations makes sense; for example, it might not be efficient or cost efficacious to utilize multiple autonomous SaaS applications. Each may contract for disaster instauration program accommodations. There is a point where economies of scale mean these functions should be cumulated in a kindred accommodation. Application utilization may commence with a low volume of transactions that can be fortified with semi-automated master data management. As utilization expands and interoperability requisites for the business process become more onerous, an incipient approach is needed. This evolution may be the most cost-efficacious approach; however, there is a peril that the business transition costs from one solution to another may transmute the cost and benefit equation, and hence the solution that should be employed.