Simply put, cloud computing (“the cloud”) is the is the on-demand availability of computer system resources, especially data storage (cloud storage) and computing power, without direct active management by the user. Cloud computing dates back to the 1950s, and over the years, it has evolved through many phases that were first pioneered by IBM. Typically, you only pay for cloud services you use, helping you lower your operating costs, run your infrastructure more efficiently and scale as your business need change.
Cloud computing is a big shift from the traditional way businesses think about IT resources. Using cloud computing frees IT to focus on developing applications that have business value and not on managing the data centre.
Cost – Cloud computing can reduce capital expenditure costs as organisations don’t have to spend massive amounts on buying and maintaining equipment or investing in setup costs for running on-site data centres and the IT experts for managing the infrastructure.
Speed – Most cloud computing services are provided as self service and on demand, so vast amounts of computing resources can be provisioned in minutes, giving businesses a lot of flexibility, and taking the pressure off capacity planning.
Mobility – Storing information in the cloud means that users can access it from anywhere with any device with just an internet connection. That means users don’t have to carry around USB drives, an external hard drive or multiple CDs to access their data and can access corporate data via smartphones and other mobile devices, enabling remote employees to stay up to date with co-workers and customers. End users can easily process, store, retrieve and recover resources in the cloud. In addition, cloud vendors provide all the upgrades and updates automatically, saving time and effort.
Reliability – Cloud computing makes data backup, disaster recovery and business continuity easier and less expensive because data can be mirrored at multiple redundant sites on the cloud provider’s network.
Disaster recovery – All organizations worry about data loss. Storing data in the cloud guarantees that users can always access their data even if their devices, e.g., laptops or smartphones, are inoperable. With cloud-based services, organizations can quickly recover their data in the event of emergencies, such as natural disasters or power outages.
Cloud computing security – Security remains a primary concern for businesses contemplating cloud adoption, especially public cloud adoption. Public cloud service providers share their underlying hardware infrastructure between numerous customers, as the public cloud is a multi-tenant environment. This environment demands significant isolation between logical compute resources. At the same time, access to public cloud storage and compute resources is guarded by account login credentials. Many organizations bound by complex regulatory obligations and governance standards are still hesitant to place data or workloads in the public cloud for fear of outages, loss or theft. However, this resistance is fading, as logical isolation has proven reliable, and the addition of data encryption and various identity and access management tools have improved security within the public cloud.
Public vs Private
A cloud can be private or public. A public cloud sells services to anyone on the internet. A private cloud is a proprietary network or a data centre that supplies hosted services to a limited number of people, with certain access and permissions settings. Private or public, the goal of cloud computing is to provide easy, scalable access to computing resources and IT services.
You’re probably using cloud computing right now, even if you don’t realise it. If you use an online service to send emails, edit documents, watch films or TV, listen to music, play games, or store pictures and other files, it’s likely that cloud computing is making it all possible behind the scenes. The first cloud computing services are barely a decade old, but already a variety of organisations, from tiny start-ups to global corporations, from government agencies to non-profits are embracing the technology for all sorts of reasons.
Examples of cloud computing include:
Google Docs, Microsoft Office 365: Users can access Google Docs and Microsoft Office 365 through the internet. Users can be more productive because they can access work presentations and spreadsheets stored in the cloud at anytime from anywhere on any device.
Email, Calendar, Skype, WhatsApp: Emails, calendars, Skype and WhatsApp take advantage of the cloud’s ability to provide users with access to data remotely so they can access their personal data on any device, whenever and wherever they want.
Zoom: Zoom is a cloud-based software platform for video and audio conferencing that records meetings and saves them to the cloud, enabling users to access them anywhere and at any time.
The future of cloud
Within the next three years, 75% of existing non-cloud apps will move to the cloud. Today’s computing landscape shows companies not only adopting cloud but using more than one cloud environment. Even then, the cloud journey for many has only just begun, moving beyond low-end infrastructure as a service to establish higher business value.