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BizCloud: What is Cloud Computing and How Can Businesses Reap its Benefits?
From BizCloud cloud computing watch: Cloud computing is a general term used to define an internet based computing environment, which includes provisioning of shared software, hardware and network resource, mainly for organization’s end users. Typically, cloud computing providers host the general computing resources and they are accessed via internet as a service. For example, a user can access and utilize an application by using a normal web browser just like it’s installed on that particular system, while the application resides at remote server and all the computations required running that application is done at that server.
Cloud computing technology is a mixture or hybrid of few earlier computing paradigms, like;
- Mainframe Computing: where powerful super computers (Mainframes) were used by large organization for critical applications.
- Grid Computing: It is a form of computing in which cluster of computers combine their computing resources (idle resources), to form a super computer, performing large chunks of tasks.
- Client-Server Computing: In this model servers respond to the needs of the clients as a service.
The underlying concept of cloud computing is in early nineties when the Telecommunication providers offered Virtual Private Networks to connect the remote offices of an organization together at a reduced cost with the same efficiency as of leased lines. Cloud was used to distinguish the physical premises of the VPN provider with that of the client. Cloud computing further increased the service portfolio by providing many more services.
Amazon was the first provider to initiate cloud computing with its product Amazon Web Services, which was a collection of web services that all together form reliable, inexpensive and manageable computing resources over the internet. Since then cloud computing is the hottest buzz word among all the leading technology firms including Google, HP, and Microsoft.
Categories of Cloud Computing
There are several categories of cloud computing offered these days by many service providers such as storage, middleware and database but the most popular and common cloud service models are Software as a Service (SasS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Desktop as a Service (DaaS).
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Software as a Service or cloud application services, delivers complex mission critical applications such as CRM or ERP over the internet to the end user. It is the most common and popular application of cloud computing, where it simplifies management and support by removing the need to install and run the application on the customer’s computer.
It also eliminates the need for maintenance as the up gradation and installing patches is shifted at the provider’s end; the customer will always get the updated version of the software or application which is managed centrally by the service provider.
Platform as a Service
Platform as a Service delivers hardware, software, hosting or a computing platform as a service to facilitate the building and delivering of web based applications or services completely from the internet.
Platform as a Service differs from software as a service in the fashion that SaaS provides pre-built software with none or little customization available, whereas PaaS enables you to develop humongous web applications eliminating the need for specialized platform requirements to build those applications.
Infrastructure as a Service
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provides operations oriented computing resources including storage, hardware, servers and networking components as a service over the internet. These services eliminate the need for an in-house data center and the network equipment to access it. Sometimes it is also referred to as Hardware as a Service.
IaaS services are generally charged on utility computing billing model where only the amount of services used is billed. Infrastructure as a Service gives greater flexibility and elasticity to organizations enabling them to scale their computing requirements whenever they need it, thus giving an impression of unlimited infrastructure resources available.
Desktop as a Service
Desktop as a Service provides virtual desktop services through the use of Virtual Desktop Interface over the internet. It is based on multi-tenancy architecture whereby multiple desktops can be hosted on a single server and/or of different users. Virtual desktop services and hosted desktop services are also classified as DaaS.
In this model an image of the user’s desktop image is saved on every Log On/ Log Off session onto the remote virtual machine and that can be accessed from anywhere in the world as long you have an internet connection. Service provider manages all the back-end so you don’t need to worry about security and updates.
How Can Business Benefit from Cloud Computing?
There is no question that business can reap allot of benefits form cloud computing. When we review advantages of cloud computing, both providers and customers are winners. The most significant benefits are:
Cost – There is always cost associated with developing an in-house Infrastructure especially for large organizations with many users. Cloud computing removes all the barriers by giving a substantially low-cost entry and the best part is that you pay for what you use and disengage whenever you like without considering the invested capital.
Reliability- Cloud computing gives reliability of the services as managing virtual servers is easier than physical servers. If the server or any hardware device is failed, the transition can easily be deployed to any available server as the service offers you greater flexibility.
Manageability – Cloud computing gives you enhanced monitoring capabilities by centralizing all the resources keeping everything under your nose. Maintenance is eliminated because the end user is using simple user interface to access the service without installing it. Back-end engineering and constraints are always resolved and maintained by the provider hence freeing the customer from updating and maintaining the application.
Strategic Edge and Goal Orientation – The ever increasing and limitless computing resources give a competitive edge over competitors where procurement time is virtually zero. So if you want to deploy a mission critical application that will give you significant recognition, upfront costs or the access cost and the provisioning time to technology is not a problem anymore. Thus the organizations can gain a strategic edge as well as focus on their goals and important business activities making business more productive.
Why Cloud Computing?
Today many organizations have taken advantage of the cloud to avail the best it has to offer: scalability, agility, automation, and resource sharing. Leading analysts like Gartner and IDC agree that this new computing model has a lot of advantages for startups, SMBs and large organizations alike. Cloud computing enables IT departments to focus on innovative applications that can be beneficial to the business in many ways and at the same time reduce the Capital & Operational cost and automate complex technologies. Tech giants like Microsoft, HP, and Dell are investing billions in cloud computing research and products. Microsoft alone set $20 Billion for Windows Azure, a cloud platform offering by MS which will enable users to run almost any kind of language on it.
The on demand technology service model will enable any organization, especially large one, to accommodate any kind of computing requirement when its required. Just consider this example that a virtual server can replace up to 5 typical servers, which can save capital and operational expenses substantially and most of all, its eco-friendly. Considering all this, cloud computing can have significant benefits and its here to stay.