Cloud computing is the next big step in the evolution of the internet. In the most basic terms, it can be defined as provision through the internet of all computing services. It is the most advanced version of the client-server architecture and takes that system to a very high level of resource sharing and scaling. In a cloud computing network, all the data including the processing software of a computer or other mobile devices will be stored and run from a remote server farm and can be accessed from that device from anywhere in the world. The data is stored in an encrypted form and is made available on a terminal only on provision of the correct username and password.
Accessing the data and using the resources on such servers will be possible for the user by using any terminal connected to the network. This is pretty much like the way power is supplied to any particular region in a grid, as per the demand. Similarly, the resources made available on terminals in the network will be as per the demand. This is the reason why the ‘cloud’ in cloud computing can also be called as the Internet.
So, rather than installing a software on your own computer, you can access the same software as an internet based application through a web browser. What this does is allows you to access and save your work or data on the network’s server, which completely eliminates the need to store it on your own computer. This also provides you with unlimited freedom to access your data from any terminal you want. All the terminal needs is the capability to remotely connect with the server network.
Cloud computing is possible only because of the high speed internet connectivity that has reached even remote locations on earth. This power and reach of the internet has been effectively used to share data on the cloud computing network.
Necessity and Applications of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing owes its success to two very important factors, viz. money and convenience. The network makes it very easy to store, access and even edit every bit of your data. You won’t need to install anything on your device and best of all; every program you use will be automatically updated. You are also free from having to go through any protocol when accessing your data. This is one of the biggest reasons for the popularity of cloud computing among individual and corporate users alike. The amount of money saved with cloud computing is enormous. You only pay the service provider for the storage and access to your data, thus saving money that goes into maintaining your own storage, backup and power bills. Cloud computing also helps corporates cut down on their carbon footprint while giving them high speed access to their data at affordable prices.
Cloud computing has several applications. You must have heard of private cloud computing, which is nothing but a cloud computing network that can be accessed by only a private group of computers. Amazon and Google have both set-ups their own cloud computing services for use by individuals. Cloud computing is finding resonance with more and more users as the network can be used to share not just information but also many services.
Advantages of Cloud Computing
- Cost Reduction: A cloud does away with the need for each user to put money in softwares or stand-alone servers that need a large start-up capital but are usually inadequately-utilized most of the time. With fast-paced technological innovations the norm today, these resources become outdated soon and need to be replaced for the best working efficiency. Cloud computing dispenses with the need for such repeated investments.
- Speed and Scalability: Companies no longer need to invest time and money in buying and installing the hardware, software and other applications necessary for the operation. Instead, they can simply scale-up or scale-down their usage of the network’s services as per their needs.
- Innovation: With the burden of managing resources off their backs, companies can concentrate on innovations that will make them more competitive. This helps in faster development, evaluation and final validation of their products and services.
- Location Freedom: Providers of the service can build their infrastructure in places with lower overhead costs and pass on the savings to their customers.
- Convenience: The only thing needed by a company to use this service is high-speed internet connectivity. The need for specialised equipment or personnel is completely eliminated. Billing is on actual consumption basis only while it’s also itemised to help the customer check costs.
- Flexibility: Users can withdraw their subscription at their will which gives a fair degree of operational flexibility. The services are provided under level agreements which ensure that the service provider is penalised for any lapse in service. The cloud network can also be accessed from any device with internet connectivity.
Disadvantages of Cloud Computing
- Dependence on Network Connectivity: This is the most glaring disadvantage as access to the network can be completely frozen if network connectivity is hampered. A slow network will also bottleneck the work output of cloud users.
- Legal Ownership of Information: Every service provider will have its own terms and conditions regarding the data stored on its server farms. Proper reading and understanding of the fine print is necessary as this often contains information on issues like data theft, server and backup failure, distribution rights and rules which if breached might prevent data access to a user.
- Cost: Cloud computing is financially quite viable in the long term. However, its cost is nowhere near cheap or affordable if you are setting it up on a smaller scale. There’s still a long way to go before cloud computing becomes a good and affordable solution for small-scale users.
In spite of a few niggles like above, there is absolutely no doubt that cloud computing is going to be the latest innovation of the computer/internet juggernaut. Cloud computing is a unique solution as it caters to environmental concerns, cost issues and overall operational flexibility.