The Use of Cloud Computing
At present, a number of organizations seek to take things the cloud way due certain benefits that cloud computing brings about. This paper is organized into sections. The first section provides an overview of what cloud computing is. In the second section, there is a description of the benefits and drawbacks of cloud computing. The third section cites two examples of Houston based companies that have embraced the cloud as well as their experience with the cloud stuff. The last section gives a conclusion on why cloud computing should be the path to follow alongside suggestions on countermeasures against the drawbacks associated with the concept.
In the traditional computing practices, a system administrator or IT manager would be charged with the duty of ensuring that every employee has an appropriate hardware or software that they require to carry out their day-to-day activities. The role goes past purchase of computers for everybody. The system administrator has to acquire the necessary software and software licenses for the employees to have all that they need. Arrival of a new employee would prompt for a need for purchase of new software and to establish whether the present software license is permissive of an additional user.
What is Cloud Computing
Cloud computing introduces a practice aimed at having just a single application loaded and eliminating the need to install suite software for all organization-owned computers. Such an application permits employees to be logged into a set of Web based services that host the programs or data needed by the employees for the routinely operations (Furht & Escalante, 2010).
By definition, cloud computing refers to an attempt to store and access programs or data over the web other than your computer hard drive or have the hard drive-stored data synchronized certain information that is resident in the web.
Different businesses resort to different cloud services. Businesses are at liberty to choose Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) or Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). In SaaS, A business will make subscriptions for all applications accessed over the internet. In PaaS, business are involved in the creation of a custom application intended for use by everyone in the company (Stanoevska et al. 2010) and in IaaS, the business provides a back bone to be let out to other companies.
5 Advantages/Benefits of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing provides a series of advantages to an end user and businesses of varied sizes. Described under this section are 5 advantages/benefits of cloud computing offered from the perspective of a company and the end users.
Cost efficiency in the cloud environment is attained by eliminating the investment needed on standalone servers and software. By embracing the capabilities of the cloud, organizations are relieved of licensing fees while eliminating overhead charges and costs that are brought about by data storage, management and software updates. Generally, cloud services are available at cheaper rates in comparison with the conventional approaches can greatly reduce the overall expenditure on IT. The cloud environment has further been made appealing through the introduction of scalable and convenient charging models like pay-as-you go. Through its elimination of capital expenses, cloud computing is better positioned to help organizations to become more technical or analytical whilst increasing the cash flow.
Cloud services are basically better placed to save energy if compared with a common IT infrastructure and the involved computation requires few resources. For instance, if an organization finds a way to avoid the use of servers, the IT infrastructure is likely to scale down and this consumes less power leaving resources freed up. The mode of cloud operation is that the consumed resources will always be what the system truly needs.
Convenience and Constant Availability
Public cloud service providers are able to avail their utilities regardless of the location of the end users. This mode of service provision enables users to access information with ease and is accommodative of varying user needs. Furthermore, service up time more often than not guaranteed thus providing an assurance of constant resource availability to the end users. It is a common practice witnessing cloud vendors use several servers to attain maximum redundancy to be able to automatically spawn alternative instances in cases of system failures.
Data Back Up and Recovery
Cloud computing makes data backup and recovery rather simple because the data is often resident on the cloud other than the physical hard drive. A number of the cloud service providers avail flexible and reliable backup and recovery solutions. There are instances when the cloud itself assumes the role of backup repository for data that resides in the local computers.
Performance and Scalability
A cloud instance would be subjected to automatic deployment only if required. Consequently, the user only makes payments for the required applications or data storage. An attribute associated with a cloud service is the possibility to have the cloud scaled to meet the varying demands for IT systems (Buyya, Broberg & Goscinki, 2011). To attain good performance, cloud systems use distributed architectures offering high computation speeds. Also, the duty to make sure that excellent running of end user services is left in the hands of the provider.
Drawbacks of Cloud Computing
In spite of the numerous benefits surrounding the cloud paradigm, there are drawbacks to using the cloud tools and some of the draw backs are:
Reliance on Providers
A resolution for the cloud services comes with an implicit reliance on a provider. It is often challenging and at some moments impossible to shift between different providers after rolling up with them. Users wishing to switch between service providers will find movement of data from an old to a new provider somewhat cumbersome and painful. Hence, they might be forced to stick to a single provider even if they are uncomfortable with the offered services.
A company will issue private information and data the moment it leverages the remote cloud based infrastructures. The issued information could contain confidential and sensitive data. Management, protection and retention of such sensitive information will then be left to the cloud service providers hence the reliability of the cloud service provider turns to be very crucial. Therefore, companies seeking cloud services ought to know the risk of their operation being put to jeopardy prior to a decision to issue private data or information to the providers (Pearson, & Yee, 2013). For the selfsame reason, it would not be strange finding the end users oppose a request to have their data surrendered to a third party unless there is an assurance of data protection against all authorized uses. Also, cloud related solutions are mostly exposed over the web making them vulnerable targets of hackers and malicious users. There is never a security guarantee for anything featuring over the internet for even the bigger players are victims of security breaches and attacks. The interdependency of different system parts makes the situation worse since compromise of a single machine storing data can make personal information be leaked to an entire world.
Limited Flexibility and Control
Because a service or application runs on a remotely located third party virtual environment (Sosinsky, 2011), users or organizations have restricted control over the execution and operation of both software and hardware. Also, the remote software under use is normally deficient of the features found in the locally running applications.
In a cloud environment, latency is used to refer to time taken for a computer to interact with a cloud based server. A user has to be informed about latency because the needed utilities are no longer stored inside the personal machine. Latency could be a big issue in cloud services though this depends on cloud server location, service quality and the user’s geographical proximity with regard to the server location.
Cloud Computing Examples:
Companies that are set to shift IT support to the cloud increase profits and reduce expenditures. Increased profits can be used to develop other sectors of the organization. The centre providers also turn out to be more profitable as a result of the cloud services. Technology firms in Houston have used huge sums of money to acquire personnel, services and equipment needed for the cloud technology. Cloud services permit customers to store or gain access to software and data stored at an offsite location which is run by the cloud hosts other than in-house IT departments in companies. Companies like BMC Software Inc, Logix Communication LP and The Aldridge Co. all aspire to increase flexibility and options for customers in their cloud services. The next section presents a closer look at two Texas based companies namely IBM’s SoftLayer and RackSpace in view of their manner of support for and the way they have benefited from cloud computing.
RackSpace forms part of the greatest players within the IaaS market and provides numerous solutions that are inclusive of managed hosting, cloud hosting as well as hybrid solutions combining managed and cloud services (Jamsa, 2013). Financial metrics reveal that increased cloud based operation in RackSpace Hosting has helped the organization to deliver extra revenue from the owned data centers. Between 2010 and 2011, the company succeeded in adding up to 38000 customers in the rapidly-changing cloud hosting business. Within that period, RackSpace increased the average revenue for all completed data centre space to $4602 down from $3764. This is an illustration of how the company was capable of introducing a 23% boost on the quarterly revenue.
Another company that has embraced the cloud in Houston is IBM’s SoftLayer. Because of the improvements in the high performance applications, an analyst, engineer, researcher or a scientist would be capable of running more detailed and complex simulations with the intention to acquire newer insights and have new products delivered to the market (Weinman, 2012). With the existence of IBM Platform Computing Cloud Service, companies are able to access cloud resources of SoftLayer on a short-lived term eliminating the need for acquisition, installation or configuration of the in-house infrastructures. SoftLayer offers Platform Symphony and IBM Platform LSF. Companies can quickly adapt to dynamic business requirements and carry out their research work faster because of support for the on-demand access to extra resources.
Cloud computing is an increasing revolution within the IT sector. However, the paradigm is faced by a number of draw backs as well as benefits so this calls for users to strike a wise balance between the two sides. Whereas the use of the cloud services can present companies with a series of benefits and help get a notch higher in terms of technology, it should be understood that certain IT based decision or resolutions to adopt the cloud services could be misguided. Thus, it is recommended that a whole process of due diligence be carried out during the vendor assessment stage of implementation of a cloud service. In case of need, the persons involved should seek counsel from independent parties just to ensure that the product or service offering is in harmony with the business needs.
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- Furht, B., & Escalante, A. (2010). Handbook of cloud computing. New York: Springer.
- Jamsa, K. (2013). Cloud computing: SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, virtualization, business models, mobile, security and more. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
- Pearson, S., & Yee, G. (2013). Privacy and security for cloud computing. London: Springer.
- Sosinsky, B. A. (2011). Cloud computing bible. Indianapolis, IN: Wiley.
- Stanoevska-Slabeva, K., Wozniak, T., & Ristol, S. (2010). Grid and cloud computing: A business perspective on technology and applications. Heidelberg: Springer.
- Weinman, J. (2012). Cloudonomics: The business value of cloud computing. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.