If you have been keeping abreast of the world of digital technology, you will be aware that the emergence of cloud computing has been one of the most significant and exciting developments of recent years. Over the past decade, this technology has seen remarkable growth, gaining traction and acceptance among a broad range of users, far beyond its initial base of early adopters. Nevertheless, despite its widespread acceptance, there are still many misconceptions about cloud computing that persist.
Given the ever-increasing presence of cloud computing in the modern technological landscape, it is essential that we take a closer look at this phenomenon. What, exactly, is cloud computing? How does it work? What are the most common types? Why has it grown so rapidly? What developments can we anticipate in the future? All of these questions are answered here.
When asked, “What is cloud computing?”
Cloud computing, more commonly known as ‘the cloud’, is an internet-based service that enables users to access computer resources such as applications and data centres on a pay-as-you-go basis. It takes advantage of the scalability of resources, meaning that users are only required to pay for what they use, and is also characterized by its self-service feature, allowing for quick and easy access.
What is the process of cloud computing?
Businesses which offer cloud computing services charge customers a fee to access their servers, networks, applications and data storage facilities. In other words, they rent out their IT infrastructure to a wide range of businesses, organizations and individual users.
This arrangement has two major advantages for customers. Firstly, they can access a wide range of services at a reduced cost or even at no cost, without needing to invest in setting up their own infrastructure. Secondly, it is a lucrative business opportunity for cloud computing companies as they can receive payments from a large number of end-users.
What are the many flavours of cloud computing?
There are now three distinct flavours of cloud computing, each with its own unique set of benefits. In this way, we discover:
- IaaS, or Infrastructure as a Service, Means Just What It Sounds Like. Users may access servers, networks, and storage in either a real or virtual form using this architecture.
- PaaS, or Platform as a service: The Platform as a Service (PaaS) model offers developers a range of pre-established software and development tools that can be used to build web-based applications. These tools include, but are not limited to, system software, database management systems, and programming languages. Utilising the PaaS model allows developers to create applications quickly and cost-effectively, allowing them to focus on other aspects of their project.
- “Software as a Service” (SaaS): Software as a Service (SaaS) is the leading business model at present, due to its ability to provide users with access to cloud-based software from any device with an Internet connection. This allows organisations and individuals to access the most up-to-date versions of software without the need to install it on a computer or device, as well as providing the benefit of not needing to store digital assets on a physical device.
Categorisation can also be based on the method of deployment. For example, there are public clouds that are freely accessible to everyone, private clouds that are only accessible to a restricted group of individuals or organisations, hybrid clouds that bring together private and public resources, and multi-clouds that utilise multiple cloud services concurrently.
Who are the most prominent cloud service providers?
Over the past few years, the major players in the cloud computing industry have stayed largely the same. However, major changes are anticipated for 2023, with the leading providers attempting to cement their positions by investing heavily in the latest technologies. These providers have a firm foothold in the cloud computing market, and it is expected that they will remain the dominant force in the future. The current top contenders are:
- Microsoft cloud: Microsoft, the technology behemoth, is making strategic investments in the money-transfer sector, collaborating with Volkswagen to develop intelligent vehicles and integrating with blockchain-based identification systems in order to continue to be a market leader in the cloud computing industry. This is exemplified by their two cloud-based services, Office 365 and Azure.
- Provider of Amazon’s Web services: Amazon Cloud, which was once the industry standard, is now the foundation for many of the company’s most successful products, such as its e-commerce platform and virtual assistant. The STRIDES programme from Amazon is designed to provide statistical data to support research into treating and preventing illnesses. Additionally, Amazon is looking to further expand its reach by offering a Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) platform to businesses.
- In the IBM Cloud, Big Blue’s cloud services have been in existence for some time, and have proved themselves to be reliable in terms of performance and dependability. Through new partnerships, they are now able to offer additional services including those related to the application of blockchain technology in the transportation and distribution of food. Moreover, their Multicloud Manager technology enables the management of data across several cloud platforms.
- Salesforce: The cloud-based customer relationship management system (CRM) has become well-regarded throughout the corporate world, with companies of all sizes and from a range of industries adopting the technology. In order to further strengthen its product offering, Salesforce is currently pursuing a growth strategy that includes the acquisition of smaller cloud providers. Additionally, in order to ensure better compatibility with iOS, Salesforce has entered into a partnership with Apple.
- GCP (Google Cloud platform): G Suite and Google Cloud Platform have had a profound influence on the cloud computing industry, largely due to Google’s focus on both performance and speed. The tech giant’s cloud-based future is dependent on the insights it can glean from its massive data collection, which is bolstered by its numerous services. This is demonstrated by Google’s Cloud Robotics Platform, which utilises Google’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning algorithms to enable collaborative robots to carry out a vast array of tasks.
To what end has cloud computing’s success been so spectacular?
Research conducted by LogicMonitor forecasts that by 2023, the majority (83%) of business workloads will be performed in the cloud, signifying the tremendous uptake of cloud computing by both large and small enterprises. But what is driving this huge increase in popularity? While there are numerous factors, the primary motivator is the numerous advantages of cloud computing. These include, but are not limited to:
- It’s not necessary to maintain your own server farm: By renting computing resources from a third party, you can gain access to the services that expensive infrastructure provides without having to invest in the hardware and software yourself. This eliminates the need to concern yourself with the time-consuming and costly task of keeping the hardware and software up to date.
- Accessible from Everywhere in the World Given that the materials are available online, this provides an immense advantage to businesses with multiple sites requiring access to a centralized database, as well as those with employees who work remotely and require the ability to share data. Solutions hosted in the cloud are accessible to anyone with an Internet connection.
- Safeguarding more information: Whenever a new security threat is identified, cloud service providers quickly update their defences to protect against them. The aim is to guarantee the safety of all cloud-based data and files. Furthermore, data is regularly backed up on numerous servers to minimise the chances of losing information due to hardware issues.
- Up-to-date software on a regular basis: Cloud computing providers are continually striving to remain at the forefront of the industry, providing their customers with access to the latest cutting-edge resources and methods for optimising their business operations and enhancing their growth. This means that businesses can benefit from the most up to date and advanced services available, helping them to stay competitive and successful.
- To meet the ever-evolving demands, we need resources that can stretch. Cloud computing can be an ideal option for businesses whose workloads fluctuate and experience periods where usage spikes. Utilising cloud computing allows companies to be able to handle the increased demand without having to keep a large, costly and underutilised in-house workforce on hand. This makes cloud computing a great solution for businesses that may only require additional staff at certain times of the month or year.
- An agile approach to projects is possible if… Cloud computing provides a convenient and cost-effective way to access a range of resources quickly, enabling businesses to rapidly prototype ideas and develop solutions. This reduces the need for significant investments in IT hardware and software, particularly when developing applications that may require rapid scalability in the future.
- Advantage in a Crowded market: By simply utilising cloud-based applications, you can have a major advantage over your competitors who either do not have access to this technology, or who must take time away from their other tasks to ensure the necessary maintenance and upkeep of their systems. You do not need to concern yourself with the infrastructure, system updates, or backups, enabling you to focus on more important matters.
The many advantages of cloud computing make it an obvious choice for organizations of any size. These advantages, such as cost savings, scalability and flexibility, make cloud computing an attractive option for businesses looking to satisfy their needs. It is clear to see why many organizations have already transitioned to some form of cloud computing, as it offers many benefits on demand.
How far does cloud computing have to go before it becomes mainstream?
As the advantages of cloud computing become increasingly recognized by businesses, organizations and individuals, its popularity is only set to increase. However, this technology is not the only factor that will affect our use of digital resources in the future. Other trends such as [insert examples] will also have an impact.
- The ascent of complex ecosystems of interconnected clouds Recent studies have shown that while many businesses are already taking advantage of the integration of public and private clouds with on-premises resources, only 20% of their procedures have been successfully transferred to the cloud. The remaining 80% of businesses have yet to make the transition due to performance and legal considerations that dictate that certain workloads and sensitive data must remain on-site. It is expected, however, that the general acceptance of cloud integration will continue to increase in the near future.
As cloud security continues to develop and improve, the hybrid multi-cloud is likely to become the most advantageous solution, as it offers the benefits of both private and public clouds, resources from a variety of providers and a focus on an on-site infrastructure, all within a single system.
- Data security is given a lot of attention. The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by the European Union (EU) may prove to be an influential milestone in the evolution of cloud storage, as it seeks to address the security and privacy concerns often associated with the process. By extending its scope beyond the boundaries of the EU, and introducing the Privacy by Design principle, the GDPR intends to ensure that data is safeguarded from the inception of any online systems.
Despite the European Union being at the forefront of its introduction, it is evident that the ramifications of this legislation will be felt worldwide. It is likely to have a significant impact on how software developers approach and implement security measures within their digital applications.
- The advent of edge computing has shifted the focus: In recent years, the major companies of Amazon, Microsoft, Google and IBM have found it increasingly difficult to keep up with the rapid growth of cloud computing. The majority of cloud service providers have already implemented as much centralization as possible given the nature of the technology, meaning there is limited scope for further expansion. As a result, many businesses have been forced to look to the outer edges of the market in order to stay competitive.
Consequently, edge computing means that processing power and other resources are located closer to the source of the data. Rather than having to communicate constantly with the cloud, the user is connected to a localized hub which can draw on cloud resources when necessary.
Autonomous vehicles will no longer require instructions to be sent from a remote server before they can take action. Instead, they will be able to self-drive with the aid of a unified software system that communicates only with the car’s original manufacturer for bug fixes and user input. This means that most of the processing is done on the vehicle itself, while the cloud handles more sophisticated tasks.
- Transformations in how organizations use the cloud: As organizations adopt hybrid multi-cloud technology, a number of challenges must be addressed. One of the most immediate concerns is the need to create dedicated roles that can manage cloud models. Positions such as Cloud Manager, Cloud Broker and Cloud Architect are becoming increasingly common as organizations strive to stay ahead of the curve.
Furthermore, this will necessitate alterations in the way the new teams are constructed. When recruiting for new IT roles, it is essential to identify candidates with state-of-the-art expertise and capabilities in areas such as automation, API governance, data amalgamation, and cross-platform tool proficiency. This implies that the new members of the team will need to adjust to the prevailing culture of the company.
In today’s business landscape, cloud computing is no longer simply the wave of the future; it is increasingly becoming a reality. This is due to the numerous advantages of cloud computing, including lower infrastructure costs, a competitive advantage, improved security, flexible resources, and frequent updates. Consequently, an increasing number of organizations are migrating their operations to the cloud. Additionally, many of the leading cloud providers offer guarantees to give customers peace of mind throughout the transition.
It is clear that large corporations are pushing the boundaries of cloud computing, introducing new features and functions that will have a significant impact on the industry in the coming years. Smart devices, blockchain-based solutions, AI-powered insights, and improved performance are just some of the innovations set to revolutionize the sector. As such, the next few years are certain to be a pivotal period for these businesses.
The introduction of hybrid multi-clouds is set to significantly change the way we approach cloud computing. Companies will need to take on new responsibilities and security will be of paramount importance. Furthermore, edge computing will enable a wealth of unexplored possibilities.
Cloud computing has never been more advantageous for businesses of all sizes. With a plethora of reliable and feature-rich options available on the market, now is an ideal time to switch to a cloud-based system. Furthermore, the future of cloud computing is looking increasingly bright, suggesting that businesses can expect to benefit from further improvements to the technology in the near future.