Before I say anything else, don’t assume technologists are using those clouds in the sky for connecting. We haven’t innovated so much yet. But yes, the spelling is the same, and the meaning is synonymous too. Cloud Computing is a re-emerging field.
“We believe we’re moving out of the Ice Age, the Iron Age, the Industrial Age, the Information Age, to the participation age. You get on the Net and you do stuff. You IM (instant message), you blog, you take pictures, you publish, you transact, you distance learn, you telemedicine. You are participating on the Internet, not just viewing stuff. We build the infrastructure that goes into the data center that facilitates the participation age. We build that big friggin’ Webtone switch. It has security, directory, identity, privacy, storage, compute, the whole Web services stack.”Scott McNealy, former CEO, Sun Microsystems
If you go by its definition, Cloud Computing is the delivery of computing services. Believe me, I take no pleasure in throwing out difficult terms.
You are reading this article via a laptop or a mobile phone. Your device didn’t have this web page before. However, it does today. This is because you are connected to the Internet. You might be wondering, so what?
Someone had this article, I mean me. Since I wrote it. Then it got stored on a computer somewhere. That computer houses many more articles belonging to the same website. Maybe it also houses articles of other websites too. That computer is a server, and you, my friend are the client. When the client asks for something, the server responds and sends the needed data from the database. So, here, someone provided you a service. And you consumed a service.
Cloud Computing, in other words, is a way of providing and consuming services.
Cloud Computing In Technical Terms
The Web is a huge place. Consider a single company/corporation like Microsoft. Microsoft began from the United States and today has a heavy presence all over the world. Even in India, it has become nearly indispensable. Microsoft is also present on the World Wide Web as a website and offers hosts of services. Do you think that every time you open the website, the request is sent to the United States? No. Obviously not. Microsoft has more than a million servers across the globe that offer the companies’ services. They are all linked together through the Internet. And each responds when needed.
Cloud Computing helps in the delivery of services like servers, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence.
In the beginning, I told you not to misunderstand the term “cloud”. Cloud refers to the Internet“. Since the entire computing happens via the Internet. Therefore, the term Cloud Computing is prevalent.
I know you still haven’t understood the term. Because till now I have explained what Cloud Computing does. Not what it is. They are essentially the same, yet a bit different. Well, don’t worry. Read on.
Let’s say you have a laptop on your table right now. Since you usually don’t print pages, you didn’t think it was beneficial for you to buy a printer for your home. What would you do,if someday you had to print a page?
The answer is obvious. You would go with your soft-copy to someone who has a printer.
This is what cloud computing is. A user doesn’t have all the software and hardware with himself. It is rather offered to him as a service by another user. Now think big. And replace an individual user with a company or a corporation.
Before PCs took off in the early 1980s if a company needed sales or payroll figures calculations in a hurry, they bought “data-processing” services from another company, with its own expensive computer systems, that specialized in number-crunching.
These days, you can do the job just as easily on your desktop. Or can you? In a striking throwback, many companies are finding, once again, that buying in computer services makes more business sense than do-it-yourself.
And this is the basis of the entire field called Cloud Computing.
Why Cloud Computing? What advantages does it offer?
In a fast developing world, companies rise and fall everyday. But there is one thing consistent. Data. Each company, no matter big or small, needs to handle data.
“You don’t generate your own electricity. Why generate your own computing?”Jeff Bezos, Amazon
For someone who is just beginning a company, data-processing can be really expensive. The cost of high-tech machinery, maintenance, specialists is too much to bear. In fact, it is very tedious and often leads to diversion of resources.
Another good thing about such services is that you don’t have to worry about licensing and other stuff. You just do your job and leave the rest to the company you outsourced from.
Also, cloud services are offered just like electricity and water services. You pay and you use. It’s simple. Do you worry if the water is coming from a dam or a canal, as long as it is coming through the tap? No right. The same applies here.
The best part however comes now. Cloud Computing is offered by companies in two ways. Public and Private.
Everyone has a gmail id, right? When was the last time you paid for it? I agree you bought a phone that had Android pre-installed. But, did you pay when you created a new email ID?
No. Even then Google handles all your emails swiftly. Spams are deleted every 30 days. All devices connected to the same email-id are synced. It even filters out emails into categories like Spam, Promotions, and others.
All of this is the public method. Look at this with another analogy. There is a bus on the road. You buy your ticket. You get on the bus. Go to your destination. When you reach there, you get off.
Did it matter, what others were doing? Did it matter where the person sitting behind you was going? No. These things don’t matter.
You do your job and leave. This is exactly how public clouds are handled.
Microsoft Azure is the perfect example for this.
A normal person isn’t concerned with private clouds. Companies like Amazon and Microsoft have a lot of data centers, which are shared by people all around the world. They access them through their accounts. And then, use the services.
However, big corporations like MNCs have to process a lot of data. A simple account won’t do it. They have to access the data exclusively and more securely. So they either have an on-site data center in their company. Or they use a data-center provided by companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google. The data center is managed and maintained by these companies only, however, their usage is restricted to the company that has bought the data-center.
You can get a list of the world’s top 10 data center providers here.
Types of Cloud Services
Cloud services can be divided into mainly 3 categories on the basis of the offered services. Different companies have different needs. Some require all three, while some require just one.
“I don’t need a hard disk in my computer if I can get to the server faster… carrying around these non-connected computers is byzantine by comparison.”Steve Jobs, late chairman of Apple (1997)
- SaaS– This stands for Software as a Service. I don’t think it needs much elaboration. You simply outsource software, by paying for it in a subscription model similar to Netflix. Through the internet, this service is accessible to anyone in any part of the world.
- PaaS– This elaborates to Platform as a Service. In this, the vendor creates a platform and an environment where the users work on their own.
- IaaS– It stands for Infrastructure as a Service. Here the company accesses the hardware and other computing resources of the vendor virtually. This involves virtual server space, bandwidth, load balancers, network connections, and IP addresses.
Uses of Cloud Computing/Services
If you don’t know what are the uses, why even bother to use cloud services?
A few uses of cloud services are:
- Streaming movies and music
- Storing backup of data
- Testing Applications
- Analyzing data
These are just a few, to give you a sense of direction since you do a few of the tasks in the above list everyday.
I know all of this is hard to process, because of the intensity of the material. However, cloud computing is in huge demand these days. An entire line of career is devoted to data specialists and cloud experts. Cloud Computing is needed by everyone in the tech world, so it makes sense to know about it.
If you wanna read about the future of smartphones, click here.