With the advent of new technologies in last few years Cloud Computing has become a common term for most of the gadgets and softwares in 2012. We all are using cloud computing technology in one way or other through our mobiles,computers,servers,different softwares etc.but still most of us are unaware of the same.
People like to boast that they have got gadgets with cloud computing or synchronizing functionality without knowing what exactly cloud computing means. Today I’ll tell you about cloud computing in a simple to average technical language so that you all can get to know the technology you are using in your daily life.
‘Cloud Computing’: Is it really related to clouds?
Cloud computing has nothing to do with clouds in the sky. Cloud computing is a model for delivering information technology services in which resources are retrieved from the internet through web-based tools and applications, rather than a direct connection to a server. Data and software packages are stored in servers. However, cloud computing structure allows access to information as long as an electronic device has access to the web. This type of system allows employees to work remotely.
Why the name is ‘Cloud Computing’?
Cloud computing is so named because the information being accessed is found in the “clouds”, and does not require a user to be in a specific place to gain access to it. Companies may find that cloud computing allows them to reduce the cost of information management, since they are not required to own their own servers and can use capacity leased from third parties. Additionally, the cloud-like structure allows companies to upgrade software more quickly.
How you are involved with cloud computing in your daily life:
- Your PC and all of your mobile devices being in sync—all the time.
- Being able to access all of your personal data at any given moment.
- Having the ability to organize and mine data from any online source.
- Being able to share that data—photos, movies, contacts, e-mail, documents, etc.—with your friends, family, and coworkers in an instant.
Whether you believe it or not but if you are using Gmail and Google Docs then you are already using cloud computing technology. In short all the information that is mobile, transferable, and instantly accessible is possible in today’s world through cloud computing.
The key feature of cloud computing in personal life is:
- Ability to synchronize all our personal information with the cloud servers.
- Retrieving the required information from cloud servers whenever and wherever we like 24×7.
i.e; having every piece of data you need for every aspect of your life at your fingertips and ready for use. Everything gets connected from your address book and music collection,movies to your reports and documents for work for your easy access to them round the clock around the world.
Just imagine the benifits-they are uncountable. Even if you forget anything important to carry with you like your documents or password for unlocking any personal stuff,you can easily use cloud services from any system of the world to access them.
Watch this video to have a better understanding of Cloud computing.
Security: Are cloud computing services secure enough?
Working in a cloud environment is the latest IT fashion, though has its advantages such as, flexibility, efficiency, cost reduction and environment friendliness, it raises questions about its security dynamics.
Generally all cloud synchronization providers assure you that its secure to share your data with them and it won’t be accessible to anyone except you. Its true for your personal information but Cloud computing poses privacy concerns because the service provider at any point in time, may access the data that is on the cloud. They could accidentally or deliberately alter or even delete some info.
Although you may think now that its not good to use the synchronization facility for security of your private data but let me tell you that no one can access your data from cloud servers except the service provider. And I can assure you that well recognized service providers will never let your private data leak to anyone. So you can confidently use synchronization services for all your personal stuff with Google, Microsoft, Norton, Mozilla, Amazon or any other well known firm.
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Characteristics of Cloud computing (with self-explanatory wiki links):
- Agility improves with users’ ability to re-provision technological infrastructure resources.
- Application programming interface (API) accessibility to software that enables machines to interact with cloud software in the same way the user interface facilitates interaction between humans and computers. Cloud computing systems typically use REST-based APIs.
- Cost is claimed to be reduced and in a public cloud delivery model capital expenditure is converted to operational expenditure. This is purported to lower barriers to entry, as infrastructure is typically provided by a third-party and does not need to be purchased for one-time or infrequent intensive computing tasks. Pricing on a utility computing basis is fine-grained with usage-based options and fewer IT skills are required for implementation (in-house). The e-FISCAL project’s state of the art repository contains several articles looking into cost aspects in more detail, most of them concluding that costs savings depend on the type of activities supported and the type of infrastructure available in-house.
- Device and location independence enable users to access systems using a web browser regardless of their location or what device they are using (e.g., PC, mobile phone). As infrastructure is off-site (typically provided by a third-party) and accessed via the Internet, users can connect from anywhere.
- Virtualization technology allows servers and storage devices to be shared and utilization be increased. Applications can be easily migrated from one physical server to another.
- Multi-tenancy enables sharing of resources and costs across a large pool of users thus allowing for:
- Centralization of infrastructure in locations with lower costs (such as real estate, electricity, etc.)
- Peak-load capacity increases (users need not engineer for highest possible load-levels)
- Utilisation and efficiency improvements for systems that are often only 10–20% utilised.
- Reliability is improved if multiple redundant sites are used, which makes well-designed cloud computing suitable for business continuity and disaster recovery.
- Scalability and Elasticity via dynamic (“on-demand”) provisioning of resources on a fine-grained, self-service basis near real-time, without users having to engineer for peak loads.
- Performance is monitored, and consistent and loosely coupled architectures are constructed using web services as the system interface.
- Security could improve due to centralization of data, increased security-focused resources, etc., but concerns can persist about loss of control over certain sensitive data, and the lack of security for stored kernels. Security is often as good as or better than other traditional systems, in part because providers are able to devote resources to solving security issues that many customers cannot afford. However, the complexity of security is greatly increased when data is distributed over a wider area or greater number of devices and in multi-tenant systems that are being shared by unrelated users. In addition, user access to security audit logs may be difficult or impossible. Private cloud installations are in part motivated by users’ desire to retain control over the infrastructure and avoid losing control of information security.
- Maintenance of cloud computing applications is easier, because they do not need to be installed on each user’s computer and can be accessed from different places.
Cloud Computing Deployment Models:
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1.Public cloud: watch video
Public cloud applications, storage, and other resources are made available to the general public by a service provider. These services are free or offered on a pay-per-use model. Generally, public cloud service providers like Microsoft and Google own and operate the infrastructure and offer access only via Internet (direct connectivity is not offered).
2.Community cloud: watch video
Community cloud shares infrastructure between several organizations from a specific community with common concerns (security, compliance, jurisdiction, etc.), whether managed internally or by a third-party and hosted internally or externally. The costs are spread over fewer users than a public cloud (but more than a private cloud), so only some of the cost savings potential of cloud computing are realized.
3.Hybrid cloud: watch video
Hybrid cloud is a composition of two or more clouds (private, community or public) that remain unique entities but are bound together, offering the benefits of multiple deployment models.
By utilizing “hybrid cloud” architecture, companies and individuals are able to obtain degrees of fault tolerance combined with locally immediate usability without dependency on internet connectivity. Hybrid Cloud architecture requires both on-premises resources and off-site (remote) server based cloud infrastructure.
Hybrid clouds lack the flexibility, security and certainty of in-house applications. Hybrid cloud provides the flexibility of in house applications with the fault tolerance and scalability of cloud based services.
4.Private cloud: watch video
Private cloud is cloud infrastructure operated solely for a single organization, whether managed internally or by a third-party and hosted internally or externally.
They have attracted criticism because users “still have to buy, build, and manage them” and thus do not benefit from less hands-on management,essentially “the economic model that makes cloud computing such an intriguing concept”.
Cloud computing models: watch video
Cloud computing providers offer their services according to three fundamental models:
- Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
- Platform as a service (PaaS)
- Software as a service (SaaS)
Where IaaS is the most basic and each higher model abstracts from the details of the lower models.
I hope now you have got enough knowledge and understanding as a general user about cloud computing and how it works.
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Source: Wikipedia, Investopedia and other internet databases