Long before we knew what it was called, we started relying on cloud- based technology. And it began simply as we all started to manage our virtual email accounts. But this initial introduction to cloud computing only hinted at how reliant we would become on its capabilities 15 years later.
In the beginning of the computing era, the relationship between the user and the machine was one-to-one. Then came the Internet era. In the Internet era, the relationship between the user and the machine was many-to-one. The applications in this case were websites or client-server applications, the machine was a central server hosting the server application, web server or/and the database.
Today, the cloud is with us all throughout the day, most tangibly through our smartphones. From the moment our alarm app wakes us up, we check our Gmail account and the weather at breakfast, before setting up Google Maps on our commute and listening to our library on iTunes. We check our Facebook feed and online bank account also scroll the pages for an evening recipe. After work, we might go for a run and rely on our Fitbit and iTunes library again. Cloud computing means different to different people, its benefits are different to different people. To IT managers, it means to minimize cap-ex by outsourcing most of the hardware and software resources. To ISVs, it means to reach out to more users by offering a SaaS solution. To end users, it means to access an application from anywhere using any device.
The cloud and all the infinite possibilities it creates is there from morning until nightfall, helping us with our critical decisions and managing the information we care about the most.
The biggest driving factor behind cloud computing is believed – DATA. We are all aware of that we are living in the age of information of overload. The data that we need to consume increases exponentially every moment. More is the data, higher is the need to process it, more complex becomes the business processes, and it leads to the need of higher processing power. The ever-increasing demand for processing power cannot be addressed using the traditional server and data centre technology. Therefore, we now have cloud computing.
The journey between the first cloud software services and where we are today has been truly transformational.
is Cloud and Cloud Computing?
The term Cloud refers to a Network or Internet. In other words, we can say that Cloud is something, which is present at remote location. Cloud can provide services over public and private networks, i.e., WAN, LAN or VPN.
Applications such as e-mail, web conferencing, customer relationship management (CRM) execute on cloud.
Cloud Computing refers to manipulating, configuring, and accessing the hardware and software resources remotely. It offers online data storage, infrastructure, and application.
Cloud computing offers platform independency, as the software is not required to be installed locally on the PC. Hence, the Cloud Computing is making our business applications mobile and collaborative.
The three prominent types of cloud computing for businesses are Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), which requires a company to subscribe to it and access services over the Internet.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) is a solution where large cloud computing companies deliver virtual infrastructure.
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) gives the company the freedom to make its own custom applications that will be used by all its entire workforce.
Clouds are of four types:
Public, Private, Community, and Hybrid. Through public cloud, a provider can offer services, including storage and application, to anybody via the Internet. They can be provided freely or charged on a pay-per-usage method.
Public cloud services are easier to install and less expensive, as costs for application, hardware and bandwidth are borne by the provider. They are scalable, and the users avail only those services that they use.
A private cloud is referred to as also internal cloud or corporate cloud, and it called so as it offers a proprietary computing architecture through which hosted services can be provided to a restricted number of users protected by a firewall. A private cloud is used by businesses that want to wield more control over their data.
As far as the community cloud is concerned, it is a resource shared by more than one organization whose cloud needs are similar.
A combination of two or more clouds is a hybrid cloud. Here, the clouds used are a combination of private, public, or community.
Cloud computing is now being adopted by mobile phone users too, although there are limitations, such as storage capacity, life of battery and restricted processing power.
Some of the most popular cloud applications globally are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Compute Engine, Rackspace, Salesforce.com, IBM Cloud Managed Services, among others. Cloud services have made it possible for small and medium businesses (SMBs) to be on par with large companies.
Mobile cloud computing is being harnessed by bringing into existence a new infrastructure, which is made possible by getting together mobile devices and cloud computing. This infrastructure allows the cloud to execute massive tasks and store huge data, as processing of data and its storage do not take place within mobile devices, but only beyond them. Mobile computing is getting a fillip as customers are wanting to use their companies’ applications and websites wherever they are.
The emergence of 4G, Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (Wimax), among others, is also scaling up the connectivity of mobile devices. In addition, new technologies for mobile, such as, CSS3, Hypertext Markup Language (HTML5) hypervisor for mobile devices, Web 4.0, etc. will only power the adoption of mobile cloud computing.
Benefits of Cloud Computing
Cloud Computing has numerous advantages. Some of them are listed below –
- One can access applications as utilities, over the Internet.
- One can manipulate and configure the applications online at any time.
- It does not require to install a software to access or manipulate cloud application.
- Cloud Computing offers online development and deployment tools, programming runtime environment through PaaS model.
- Cloud resources are available over the network in a manner that provide platform independent access to any type of clients.
- Cloud Computing offers on-demand self-service. The resources can be used without interaction with cloud service provider.
- Cloud Computing is highly cost effective because it operates at high efficiency with optimum utilization. It just requires an Internet connection
- Cloud Computing offers load balancing that makes it more reliable.
- Cloud Computing is not a latest technology. Cloud computing has evolved (develop gradually) through a number of phases which includes Grid Computing, Utility Computing, Application Service Provision, and Software as a Service etc. But the overarching (overall) concept of delivering Computing resource through a global network is started in the sixties.
- Cloud computing has its roots as far back in 1950s when mainframe computers came into existence. At that time, several users accessed the central computer via dummy terminals. The only task these dummy terminals could perform was to enable users access the mainframe computer. The prohibitive costs of this mainframe devices did not make them economically feasible for organizations to buy them. That was the time when the idea of provision of shared access to a single computer occurred to the companies to save costs.
The computer scientist John McCarthy, come up with concept of timesharing, and enabling Organization to simultaneously use an expensive mainframe. This computing is described as a significant contribution to the development of the Internet, and a pioneer of Cloud computing.
The idea of an “Intergalactic Computer Network” or “Galactic Network” (a computer networking concept similar to today’s Internet) was introduced by J.C.R. Licklider, who was responsible for enabling the development of ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network). His vision was for everyone on the globe to be interconnected and being able to access programs and data at any site, from anywhere.
Using virtualization software like VMware, it became possible to execute one or more operating systems simultaneously in an isolated environment. Complete computers (virtual) could be executed inside one physical hardware which in turn can run a completely different operating system.
The VM operating system took the 1950s’ shared access mainframe to the next level, permitting multiple distinct computing environments to reside on one physical environment. Virtualization came to drive the technology, and was an important catalyst in the communication and information evolution
In 1970s itself IBM came out with an operating system (OS) named VM. This allowed for simultaneous operation of more than one OS. Guest Operating Systems could be run on every VM, with their own memory and other infrastructure, making it possible to share these resources. This caused the concept of virtualization in computing to gain popularity.
The 1990s witnessed telecom operators begin offering virtualized private network connections, whose quality of service was as good as those of point-to-point (dedicated) services at a lesser cost. This paved way for telecom companies to offer many users shared access to a single physical infrastructure.
Historically, telecommunications companies only offered single dedicated point–to-point data connections. The newly offered virtualized private network connections had the same service quality as their dedicated services at a reduced cost. Instead of building out physical infrastructure to allow for more users to have their own connections, telecommunications companies were now able to provide users with shared access to the same physical infrastructure.
The first known definition of the term “Cloud Computing” seems to be by Prof. Ramnath Chellappa in Dallas in 1997 – “A computing paradigm where the boundaries of computing will be determined by economic rationale rather than technical limits alone.”
The arrival of Salesforce.com in 1999 pioneered the concept of delivering enterprise applications via simple website. The services firm covered the way for both specialist and mainstream software firms to deliver applications over the Internet.
The first public release of Xen, which creates a Virtual Machine Monitor (VMM) also known as a hypervisor, a software system that allows the execution of multiple virtual guest operating systems simultaneously on a single machine.
In 2006, Amazon expanded its cloud services. First was its Elastic Compute cloud (EC2), which allowed people to access computers and run their own applications on them, all on the cloud. Then they brought out Simple Storage Service (S3). This introduced the pay-as-you-go model to both users and the industry as a whole, and it has basically become standard practice now.
The Worldwide Public Cloud Services Market totalled £78bn, up 18.5 per cent on 2012, with IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) the fastest growing market service.
In 2014, global business spending for infrastructure and services related to the cloud will reach an estimated £103.8bn, up 20% from the amount spent in 2013 (Constellation Research).
We have seen how far Cloud computing has progressed in the short time since its initiation. Now let’s have a look on what may become of Cloud computing technology in the future.
Following are few forecasts of what we might expect in the coming future of Cloud computing:
- Cloud computing will become even more prominent in the coming years with rapid, continued growth of major global cloud data centres.
- 50% of all IT will be in the cloud within the next 5 – 10 years.
- There will be a greater use of cloud technology as a whole across emerging markets such as in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) as they continue to develop and progress. The uptake will be particularly evident in Asia where there is already a trend to stay on the edge of the latest technology.
- Data for companies and personal use will be available everywhere in standardized formats, allowing us to easily consume and interact with one another at an even greater level.
- The security and reliability of cloud computing will continue to evolve, ensuring that data will be even more secure with numerous techniques employed.
- Combining cloud technology with the Internet of Things (IOT), Wearables and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) will become the norm in personal and working lives, so much so that the presence of cloud technology as an enabler will be overlooked. An estimated 50% of organisations will require employees to use their own devices by 2017.
- The total global cloud computing spend will reach $241 Billion in 2020.
The future of the cloud is far from certain. The rapid pace at which technology has changed in the last 5 years makes the next 5 near impossible to predict. However, it must be said that ultimately the cloud is growing exponentially and will continue to do so for some time to come.