Currently, cloud computing is creating a lot of buzz across the world. Apple iCloud, Google Drive and Dropbox are a few instances of cloud services utilized by people on a regular basis. Most importantly, cloud computing can be easily done from anywhere any time through online services.

Due to its huge potential, businesses worldwide are welcoming cloud services with arms wide open. Within the business world, cloud computing adapts to different paradigms. This refers to hosted service delivery on the internet on pay-per-usage basis. On-request cloud computing resources have many benefits and are being adopted aggressively, globally.

In general terms, cloud computing enables organizations to consume shared computing resources like Virtual Machine (VM), application or storage, instead of having to maintain and build expensive in-house computing infrastructures.

 

Benefits of Cloud Computing

For end-users and businesses, cloud computing has a number of benefits, including –

1.     Cost Savings –

In case you get worried about the price tag that will come from making the switch to cloud computing, don’t worry, you are not the only one. Around 20% of businesses are worried about initial operation cost of cloud-based servers. However, the ones who are trying to weigh pros and cons of utilizing cloud have to consider factors other than initial price. One of the most important factors they should consider is ROI.

The moment you get on cloud, you get easy access to data and this saves time as well as money in project-oriented start-ups. For the ones who get worried that they end up making a payment for features they do not want or need, many cloud computing services work on pay-per-usage basis. It means that in case you do not avail benefit of extra cloud offerings, then you will not have to spend money for them.

Also, the pay-per-usage system applied to data storage space required in order to cater to clients and stakeholders means that you will have the space you need without having to pay for extra space that is not used by you.

2.     Security –

One of the major hang ups most of the organizations have in terms of adopting cloud computing solutions is security. When programs, files and other forms of data are not kept securely on-site, then how could you be sure that they will be protected off-site? In case you could remotely access the data, then what will stop hackers from doing this very thing?

For starters, the full-time job of cloud service providers (CSPs) is to monitor the security carefully such that it is significantly more efficient than conservative in-house systems. While many businesses do not like to consider internal data theft a possibility, the sad truth is that a lot of data thefts astoundingly occur internally, perpetrated by employees. In this case, it could actually be safer to keep crucial information off-site.

3.     Flexibility –

Any business has finite resources in order to take care of all responsibilities. If the present IT services are compelling you to commit attention to data storage and computer problems, then you will not be capable to focus on achieving business goals and a happy clientele. On the contrary, relying on CSPs in order to care for IT infrastructure and hosting, leaves a lot of time for spending on business aspects that affect your bottom line.  

Cloud computing provides businesses unmatched flexibility. In case you require extra bandwidth, a cloud-based service could meet the demand instantly, instead of undergoing difficult updates to in-house IT infrastructure. The enhanced flexibility and freedom could make a significant difference in improving the efficiency of your organization. According to InformationWeek Survey, around 65% of respondents had “an ability to instantly meet the business requirements” as an important reason why they chose to move to the cloud environment.

4.     Mobility –

Cloud computing permits mobile access to corporate data through devices and smartphones, considering that more than 2.6 billion smartphones that are being utilized across the world nowadays are an ideal way of ensuring that nobody is left out of the loop. Employees that live far from corporate office or have busy travel schedules could utilize this feature in order to be up-to-date with coworkers and clients.

With the help of cloud computing, you could provide conveniently accessible info to the sales teams that travel, and to remote or freelance employees. Hence, it is seen that businesses with staff satisfaction as a priority are likely to increase cloud usage.

5.     Insights –

Moving further into the digital era, it is becoming clear that the old saying “Knowledge is power” is modernized as “Data is money”. The billions of bits of the data surrounding business processes and customer transactions are pieces of actionable and invaluable information that are waiting to be acted upon. Examining the data in order find the kernels of insight could be difficult, until you have access to accurate cloud computing services.

Most of the cloud-based storage services provide integrated cloud analytics for a bird’s eye view of the data. You could efficiently deploy tracking mechanisms as well as build tailored reports in order to analyze organization-wide information. Through these insights, you could increase efficiencies as well as build action plans in order to meet organizational goals.

6.     Enhanced Collaboration -

In case your business contains numerous employees, then collaboration might be your top priority. There is no point in having teams if they are not able to collaborate. Cloud computing eases the collaboration process. The team members could share and view information easily as well as securely on cloud-based platforms. A few cloud-based services offer collaborative social spaces in order to connect the employees of an organization, hence increasing engagement and interest. Collaboration might be possible devoid of cloud computing, however it would not be as easy or effective.

7.     Quality Control –

One of the things that are detrimental to business success is inconsistent and bad-quality reporting. Within a cloud-based system, all of the documents are stocked securely in one place. Through everybody accessing similar information, you can maintain data consistency, while avoiding human error, as well as have strong record of updates or revisions. Conversely, managing the information within silos could lead to the employees saving various versions of the documents accidentally that results in diluted data and confusion.

8.     Disaster Recovery –

The major contribution factor in the success of a business is basically having great control over processes. Irrespective of how much control you have over your organization, when it comes to nature, there would be occurrences which are not in anyone’s control. Downtime in the services due to any reasons, natural or artificial, results in lost revenue, brand reputation and productivity. The cloud disaster recovery solutions mitigate these risks.

9.     Loss Prevention –

In case your company is not making an investment in the cloud-computing service, then all valued data is tied to the office computers in which it resides. This might not seem to be a problem; however the reality is that if the local hardware faces a problem, you may end up losing the data permanently. It is much more common issue than you may realize, as computers could malfunction for multiple reasons, right from hardware deterioration and viral infections to user error. Despite best intentions, data could be stolen or misplaced.

If you do not use the cloud, then you might face the threat of losing every bit of information saved by you locally. With your server based on the cloud, all information uploaded stays safe and accessible from any online computer – provided it has authorized access.

10. Automated Software Updates –

For people who have a lot of business to get done, nothing is as irritating as waiting for installation of system updates. Cloud applications automatically update and refresh themselves, mostly. It saves money and time of IT staff as well. PCWorld magazine noted that around 50% of cloud adopters mentioned the need fewer internal IT sources as a significant cloud advantage.

11. Competitive Edge –

Though cloud computing is gaining popularity, there are people who prefer to keep everything ‘local’. It is their choice, however, doing so puts them at a distinct disadvantage while competing with others who have the advantages of cloud at their fingertips. In case you deploy cloud-based service before the competitors, you would be farther along the learning curve by the time they catch up. According to a Verizon study, around 77% of businesses stated that cloud technology provides competitive advantage, and around 16% believed that the benefit is ‘significant’!

12. Sustainability –

Given the present fragile state of the environment, it is not enough to place recycling bins within break rooms to show that they are making their contribution in order to help our planet. Sustainability needs solutions, and addressing wastefulness at all business levels is paramount. Cloud hosting is an environment-friendly option since it results in minimized carbon footprint.

 

Cloud Stack

Mostly, cloud computing solutions fall in one or more of three categories –

  1. IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)
  2. PaaS (Platform as a Service)
  3. SaaS (Software as a Service)

 

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Through IaaS, you could rent IT infrastructure –  VM Hosting, servers, networks, storage and operating systems - from a cloud service provider (CSP) on pay-per-use basis.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

PaaS or Platform as a Service refers to the cloud computing solutions that source on-request environments for testing, delivering, managing, and developing software apps.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

SaaS or Software as a Service is basically a way for delivering software apps over the internet on request as well as on subscription basis.

 

Different Kinds of Cloud Deployments

Public Cloud

It is operated as well as owned by third-party cloud solution providers that manage software, hardware and supporting cloud infrastructure. Businesses could manage the account utilizing web browser-based user interfaces.

Private Cloud

Private cloud means cloud computing resources that are utilized exclusively by a single organization or business. It could either be situated on the on-site datacenter of company or hosted over third-party cloud service providers.

Hybrid Cloud

It combines private and public clouds, providing applications and data to businesses with great flexibility as well as varied deployment options.

Security

Security stays the foremost concern for all businesses considering cloud adoption, specifically in public cloud adoption. Usually, public cloud providers share the underlying hardware infra among a number of customers since public cloud follows multi-tenant environment. It demands abundant isolation in between rational compute sources. Similarly, access to compute resources and storage of public cloud is guarded via account login credentials.

Most of the businesses are bound by high governance standards and regulatory obligations, hence they are hesitant to shared workloads or placing data in public cloud because of service outage fear, data theft or revenue loss. The resistance to cloud security is diminishing as logical isolation is proven reliable, in addition to data encryption, as well as secure access and identity management tools that enhance security in the cloud.

Evolving Cloud Services

Today, cloud service providers are becoming economical as they continuously expand their services and infrastructure.

An example is event-driven computing or serverless cloud service, executing certain functions like database updates and image processing. Through serverless computing, developers could simply make code and execute it on the cloud. The list of serverless computing functions include Google Cloud Functions, Azure Functions and AWS Lambda.

Also, public cloud lends itself pretty well to Big Data processing that demands massive compute assets for short durations. The cloud service providers have come up with Big Data services, like Microsoft Azure Data Lake Analytics for handling the large data sets and Google BigQuery for Big Data warehousing. 

Besides, the new crop of evolving cloud services and technologies relates to Machine Learning and AI (Artificial Intelligence). Both of these technologies permit complex systems to impersonate human understanding as well as respond to data changes for benefiting businesses. Some of the examples of advanced (and evolving) cloud services include Amazon Lex, Amazon Machine Learning, Amazon Polly, Google Cloud Speech API and Google Cloud Machine Learning Engine.

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