Cloud computing is, by and large, the most revolutionizing technology in the IT industry. Before cloud technology and virtualization existed, people relied, on what they call physical servers. Physical servers, though still in use, have had loose ends and failed to fulfil the much-coveted demands in the IT industry.
From military to students, to professionals to researchers, the gradual shift is cloud technologies is evident. As per a survey conducted last year by a Cloudopedia, people agreed that they are moving to the cloud for its faster deployment.
Source - Cloudopedia
One cannot completely rule out that virtualization technology is unimportant and has not had any significant changes in the IT market. Dedicated servers, which had long been the no 1 choice, continues to be so. But why so? Why despite cloud providers touting their product as the game-changer have had little success convincing people to completely disregard the other technology?
In this blog, I have resorted to answering all these questions with an extra mention of how cloud computing is helpful in research and the future technology associated with it.
Which is better a dedicated server or cloud server?
None. You cannot differentiate between cloud and dedicated server. Each service has its own advantages and you cannot simply state one as more dominant than the other. Still, if we were to tell you, dedicated servers are usually more powerful than cloud servers.
Source – Quora
- Dedicated servers are built to leverage the power of individual servers and are hence more powerful than cloud servers.
- Cloud servers are extremely cost-effective, thus a viable solution for those who want unmatched control at as little a price as possible.
- All physical servers tie you down to a particular work desk. Unlike cloud computing, dedicated machines cannot deliver services over the internet.
- Cloud computing can be managed remotely as long as you have access to the internet. Physical servers cannot be managed unless you are on the same network as the server. You may have noticed how some applications only work on your office IP. These applications have restricted control either to a strict IP or are configured in dedicated servers.
What should you choose and under what circumstances?
With all the above information, you may now proceed towards deciding which model you should approach for your business. Below, I have compiled a list of requirements with proper reference to the scenarios where the suggested solution will work the best –
Source – Technected
Requirement – uncompromised control
No cost limitation, accessibility is not a concern.
Solution suggested – dedicated server
Scenario – this is likely the case in an established business. Enterprises covet control and freedom with their servers. Such service will benefit those to whom control is the key. If you are a budding business, dedicated services might come with a cost too much to bear for your server.
Requirement – remote working
Solution suggested – dedicated server
Scenario – organizations have realized that remote working is as much a necessity as it is a boon for the business. Remote working comes with challenges of its own. First, the employees are not on the same IP, so no IP filter will be effective. Second, even if the organization feeds employee IPs in their system, an employee may not always work from the same IP address. Consequently, there is no choice but to make the system accessible to all IPs.
Further, employees need to collaborate with one another, which could pose a number of problems if they are not working from the same place. To counter this, cloud services allow for eased collaboration. Means, the files you upload become accessible to all the people concerned with the project.
Requirement – security
Variable limitations of cost, control, and remote working
Solution suggested –
- If cost is not a restriction - dedicated server, else cloud computing
- If remote working is a requirement – cloud computing
Here, it must be noted that though initially clouds were looked upon as less-secure solution, the trend has seen a change in the last few years. Given the program’s future relied on making cloud solutions as secure as its dedicated counterpart, cloud providers dived into unprecedented depths to achieve this.
Cloud computing in research
Scientists don’t usually work in collaboration with other scientists. Though a group of researchers almost always work in unison, they don’t normally upload data to cloud servers.
Source – UbiSEC lab
Every research facility has its local servers. The data from the server cannot be accessed from anywhere except the facility itself. Research collaboration poses bigger problems than it seems at first.
- Uploading research data to cloud servers can jeopardize its confidentiality.
- Research files are more likely to become a prey to prying eyes. Since a huge amount of money is invested in research, access to data eventually culminates to a loss of billions.
- Files from government research facilities are not uploaded anywhere, though it is not always the case.
While it might seem that research data never finds its way to cloud servers, there are other ways to securely transmit files to other location through the internet. This is where dark web comes into play.
Dark web is that portion of the web that can neither be accessed using search engines and nor can it be cached. Dark web is one of the most notorious places on the internet. Drug peddling, private data and a number of other things threatening user privacy have been sold on the dark web. What makes this hidden, untraceable web so secure is that the connection is bounced off simultaneously from all the nodes. Here is how this works –
When you search something on the web, say, ”koala images”, the search engine will make note of your IP address, then send its spiders (or crawlers) all around the web and come up with results that match your search query. Now, the search engine, and the website from where the results have been fetched, is aware of the computer (IP) that has requested access to the files.
Source – VPNoverview
Websites that can be accessed and cached by search engines are called surface web and constitute not more than 1/10th of the entire web. You may find it difficult to digest but a majority of the web is illicit.
Now, on the contrary, when you type in a URL in the dark web, the files are so fetched that, at no point, the website is able to track the destination computer. This is the privacy and anonymity that people involved in illegitimate activity often look for.
The dark web delivers files to all the computers connected to it but decrypts them only at their destination. Thus, even if someone closely monitored the data, he’d be forced to follow data packets to millions of computers in dark web, making it almost impossible for him to trace user data.
Upcoming technologies in the domain of Cloud computing
Virtual machines – as applications become more and more demanding, computers continue to become more powerful than ever. A smartphone today is at least a thousand times more robust (in terms of storage) than a decade-old computer. In a nutshell, present computers have a better processing and higher video rendering capability and are thus more suited to handling complex computing operations. This added performance, however, has not come without cost. Computers, today, are at least 10 times more expensive than they used to be. Though mass production has subsequently brought down the cost, many still find them unaffordable.
Since the technology is advanced enough, IT experts have come up with an alternate solution – virtual machines. Briefed as VMs, virtual machines are computers configured in remote location in such a way that they are able to deliver performance to a native device. The term virtual corroborates that the machine is not real but rather imaginary or virtual.
Source – Research Gate
Remote storage – we strongly believe that in future you won’t be buying extremely expensive machines, instead the performance will be delivered to you through the cloud. To achieve this, electronic manufacturers will make devices available from where you can access your cloud account and perform tasks that the native device would not otherwise support.
Remote storage or cloud storage is the most apt example. It is truly intriguing how a mobile with 32 GB internal storage is able to store contents more than 50 GB. Of course this is not achievable without the internet but the latter is almost omnipresent nowadays.
Private Networks – before clouds came into existence the concept of private networks probably did not exist. Although users had configured home network since long, those networks failed to provide the level of satisfaction users had coveted in the first place. With cloud computing, private networks became a reality. Private cloud models were designed and developed so that certain users, regardless of their location, can have their own network. The traditional networks were instantly overlooked because they had tied down users to a specific work location – typically at the proximity to the network.
Load balancing – never in the history of computing did it ever occur to administrators that an automated load balancing mechanism could be deployed on the network. Only a few decades back, if a server could support 1,000 users, it would falter right when this number went up to 1001.
Source – CenturyLink Cloud
Of the entire arsenal of weapons accompanying cloud computing, load balancing is the one we found the most useful. With virtualization, not only did we have a more advanced server solution, we also had the technology on-site to automate load balancing. This simplified a lot of things, especially for network administrators who, till now, had so meticulously perused the network to counter high load.
Takeaway – Cloud research in a nutshell
Having learnt almost everything about cloud computing, it is about time we wrapped up the subject. Before leaving you pondering over the details that you surely have forgotten by now, we will quickly reiterate facts from the entire blog in bullet points below –
- Cloud computing is considered the most revolutionizing tech in the hosting industry
- Dedicated servers are not necessarily better than cloud computing. The same is equally true when viewed the other way around.
- Dedicated servers are control-oriented, whereas cloud cost-oriented.
- You cannot remotely work on a dedicated server, though some providers have started to incorporate this facility as well.
- Cloud computing is internet-delivered services.
Summarizing what to choose and when –
- Choose cloud servers when running on a shoe-string budget.
- Choose dedicated server if you want control, power and performance
- Choose either when concerned with security – though I personally feel dedicated servers are a tad bit more secure.
- Cloud is the inevitable choice if you want to facilitate remote working.
Cloud computing in research and development industry
- Research files are likely to be uploaded to private cloud infra.
- Government agencies send and receive their data using dark web.
- Government research facilities never let malicious attackers pry on their data.
Surface and Dark Web
- The part of the web that you can access and view is the surface web.
- Dark web is the portion inaccessible through search engines.
- More than 90% of the web comprises of dark web.
- Dark web maintains anonymity by bouncing off connections (requests) from multiple computers at once.
- Dark web is equally useful for running illicit as well as covert government operations.
Upcoming/existing Cloud technologies
- Virtual machines deliver hardware performance over the internet
- VMs are great alternatives to high-end machines.
- Remote storage lets you store more files than your disk space allows.
- Load balancing integrates well with clouds.
- Private networks allow users from all over the globe to collaborate with one another.