Cloud Computing is now one of the mostly discussed topic in the Technology field. Most of the IT companies are now offering some form of Cloud computing services due to its benefits and to exploit its market with very high growth potential. Cloud Computing refers to using any web based shared services be it for data storage, eMail application, Web application, ERP, Portal etc. All these services are available on internet for some monthly fees. Cloud computing requires an internet connection which connects the company or business to the Cloud.
Characteristics of Cloud Computing
All the basic IT services are available on Cloud.
Success of Cloud Computing depends on the evolution of Internet. Faster the access, Better the services offered by Cloud.
All the services provided by cloud computing can be accessed from anywhere in the world using a net connection only.
The fees are paid on monthly or yearly basis. Can be leased for longer term as well.
Payment terms depend on the usage policy and data load. These can be renewed after fixed interval depending on the need of the customer.
In Traditional Computing, all the data is being stored on the user’s PC or one particular server inside the organization which cannot be accessed from any source outside the network. The organization has to bear the entire cost of setting up the server and application services. Whereas in Cloud Computing, the data and services are stored in a common server location and can be accessed by all the connected resources from anywhere in the world. Organization or business does not need the bear the overall cost of Hardware installation or application development; rather they can only pay depending on the usage of the shared services.
What is Cloud?
A Cloud can be Software, ERP, Web Portal or Infrastructure. Any kind of services which can be accessed via a web or a server. Cloud Computing is the ability or technique to use the applications on the Internet without any issues.
The below diagram shows the main architecture of Cloud
Benefits offered by Cloud Computing
Cloud computing offers numerous benefits to the small and medium organizations and businesses which are the main users of cloud computing. The main benefits offered are
The data is stored on the server – Reduces the usage of local machines, server and storage devices.
Cloud services providers provide their own data security system along with other services
Lower data in the local machines improves performance
Small and Medium business can save huge amount of their infrastructure and maintenance cost due to outsourcing the services to cloud computing.
Organizations do need to bear huge software costs involved in setting up an application from scratch
Makes Small and Startup companies competitive in the global market
Users can store huge amount of data in the cloud without being much worried about the cost
Increases mobility due to easier access of data and applications from anywhere in the world without being worried about security issues
Organizations can pay based on their usage and there is flexibility to opt for more features if required
It is most suitable for small and medium enterprises to build their own IT applications at lower cost. They cannot afford investing huge amount of money to build the entire IT infrastructure and services when their requirement is very minimum.
Large Organizations also use Cloud computing for some of their applications to use all the best available features offered on Cloud.
Disadvantages of Cloud Computing
There are some disadvantages involve as well for Cloud Computing. They are mainly as follows
Higher dependency on the Cloud Services provider
Higher dependency on network and internet to access IT applications
The services and computing becomes slower at the time of very high traffic on the cloud
No Freedom in choosing extra features which are not provided by the Cloud Computing provider
Lower interoperability which increases dependency on one cloud computing provider
Outage because of technical issues at the Cloud provider’s end
Lower data Security as same cloud is accessed by multiple organizations
Issues with regulatory compliance as they are different across different countries. The Cloud Computing provider cannot offer regulatory compliance framework suitable for all the locations
Major Players in Cloud Computing
There are lots of global players which offer Cloud Computing services. The major players in the segment are
Amazon – Amazon EC2, Amazon S3
Google – Google Apps
Microsoft – MS Azure
TIBCO – TIBCO Silver
Sun – Sun Grid
Cloud Computing is definitely now the most widely used technology in the global IT space and it acts as an lifeline for small and startup companies to be competitive without spending much on their IT infrastructure. Still it comes with more threats as well due to high dependency on the Cloud Computing Service Provider. Cloud services provided by the biggest player in the Cloud Computing segment, Amazon was crashed earlier this year (2011) which raised huge doubt about the reliability of the Cloud Computing Services.