Introduction to Cloud Computing
History has a way of repeating itself!
Imagine a company in the ’80s. To calculate payroll figures in a hurry, they would probably go to a data processing firm. At that time, these firms had their expensive computer systems. Then came the days when companies could do the job on their desktop with off-the-shelf software.
With growing volumes, many companies today are turning to outsource services. It makes more business sense. This new trend has led to what is called cloud computing and is linked to the Internet's inexorable rise.
So, what is cloud computing? How does it work? Let's take a closer look!
What is Cloud?
Cloud computing is using an application-based software infrastructure that stores data on multiple remote servers. This data can be accessed through the internet from anywhere. Using front-end software, users can access data stored on these servers called the cloud. The internet browser or the application that facilitates this data access is called cloud computing software.
What is Cloud in simple terms?
In layman's terms, the cloud is simply a collection of servers housed in complexes and owned by different companies like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, etc. The user’s data is stored on computers we don't have physical access to. This helps keep our data safe, to be retrieved any time we want to.
The process of the user storing and accessing his data and programs on the Internet instead of his computer's hard drive is called Cloud computing. The Cloud is just a symbolic reference to the Internet. Today when you sign up with any service on the internet, you have various storage spaces for photos and videos, Documents, etc.
Storing your data on loading software applications on your hard drive and running programs from your computer is called local storage and computing. This is good for small or individuals with limited data.
History of Cloud Computing
Many of us believe that cloud computing is something that has just come in. However, this is not the case. This is a very old concept. In the ’50s, many organizations started using mainframe computers to process their data. In those times mainframe computers were huge and very expensive to purchase and maintain. Any company which purchased one or two machines implemented time-sharing to improve their Return on Investment (ROI).
With time-sharing, several users could access the mainframe computer from connected stations called terminals. These terminals had no processing power of their own and were connected through network cards using IPX/SPX (Internet Packet Exchange/Sequential Packet Exchange) network protocol. This type of shared computation is the basic premise of cloud computing.
Origin of the term
The origin of the term cloud computing is not clear. The expression cloud is commonly used in science to describe a large collection of objects that visually appear from a distance as a cloud. The word cloud was used as a metaphor for the Internet and a standardized cloud-like shape was used to denote a network of computers.
The cloud symbol represented networks of computing equipment in the original ARPANET by as early as 1977, and the CSNET by 1981—both predecessors to the Internet itself.
In 2006 Amazon.com introduced the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud.
In the mid-1970s, time-sharing was known as RJE (Remote Job Entry), associated with large vendors such as IBM (International Business Machines) and DEC (Digital Equipment Corp).
In the 1990s, telecommunications companies started offering virtual private network (VPN) services which came at a lower cost but with comparable quality of service. At that time, the cloud symbol was used to denote the demarcation point between the responsibilities of the provider and the user. Cloud computing came into existence in the 2000s. In early 2008, NASA's Open Nebula became the first open-source software for deploying private and hybrid clouds, and for the federation of clouds. Microsoft Azure became available in late 2008.
In July 2010, Rackspace Hosting and NASA jointly launched an open-source cloud-software initiative popularly known as OpenStack.
On March 1, 2011, IBM announced the IBM SmartCloud framework to support Smarter Planet. On June 7, 2012, Oracle announced the Oracle Cloud.
How does the cloud work?
Every cloud application comes with a host. And, the hosting company maintains the massive data centers that provide the security, storage capacity, and computing power required to keep up the information users send to the cloud.
The cloud is a decentralized place to share information through networks.
Cloud Computing Models and Types
Cloud computing can be divided into several categories based on the model or the deployment methods.
There are 3 categories of cloud computing models:
1. IaaS - Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is an instant computing infrastructure. It is provisioned and managed over the internet, and quickly scales up and down with demand, letting you pay only for what you use. Each resource is offered as separate service components, and you only need to rent the service you require. A cloud computing service provider, such as Azure, AWS, manages the infrastructure, while you purchase, install, configure, and manage your software and applications.
2. PaaS - Platform as a service (PaaS) is a complete development and deployment environment in the cloud. It enables you with resources to deliver everything from simple cloud-based apps to sophisticated, cloud-enabled enterprise applications. You can purchase the resources you need from a cloud service provider on a pay-as-you-go basis and access them over a secure Internet connection. PaaS helps avoid the expense and complexity of buying and managing software licenses, the underlying application infrastructure, the development tools, and other resources. You can manage the applications and services you develop and the cloud service provider manages everything else.
3. SaaS - Software as a service (SaaS) allows users to connect to and use cloud-based apps over the Internet. The most common examples include emails, calendaring and office tools. SaaS provides a complete software solution that can be purchased on a pay-as-you-go basis from a cloud service provider. You rent an app for your organization and your users connect to it over the Internet. All of the underlying infrastructure, app software, and data are located in the service provider’s data center. The service provider manages the hardware and software and with the appropriate service agreement and ensures the availability and the security of the app and data. SaaS allows an organization to get quickly up and running with an app at minimal upfront cost.
The other way these cloud models’ cloud be categorized is based on the deployment model:
1. Public - A public cloud is a type of computing in which a service provider makes resources available to the public over the internet. Some public cloud providers offer resources for free, while clients pay for other resources by subscription or a pay-per-usage model.
2. Private - Private cloud is a computing model that offers a proprietary environment dedicated to a single business unit. As with other types of cloud computing environments, a private cloud provides extended, virtualized computing resources via physical components stored on-premises or at a vendor's datacentre.
3. Hybrid - Hybrid cloud is a solution that combines a private cloud with one or more public cloud services, with proprietary software enabling communication between each distinct service. A hybrid cloud strategy provides businesses with greater flexibility by moving workloads between cloud solutions as needs and costs fluctuate.
Normal Storage/Computing versus Cloud Computing
Traditional computing: A user's access to data/software/storage is limited to the device or official network they are connected to.
With traditional data centers, the server and related hardware are typically housed onsite and employees connect to a network to access the organization’s applications and stored data. This IT model has always been considered one of the most secure solutions.
It allows the organization to have full control of their data and applications on the on-premise server.
However, this type of infrastructure attracts additional budgeting besides the purchasing and installation of servers and equipment:
- Purchasing upgrades and additional hardware are required for scaling up data storage and services to support additional users.
- Purchasing and maintaining mandatory software upgrades to maintain failsafe systems in the event of hardware failure.
- Attracting and retaining the on-premise talent necessary to install and maintain the hardware.
- Purchasing additional software licenses for new employees.
- Overhead costs including increased power consumption.
An IT infrastructure housed completely on-premise can provide you with a customizable, dedicated system that can be a viable solution for those organizations that need to run a variety of applications. However, the restrictions and cost of any sort of scalability, not to mention the initial development, maintenance, and upkeep is something that the organization has to consider.
Cloud computing: Software on the cloud is offered as an on-demand service (SaaS) that can be accessed through a subscription service for the required number of users, via the internet.
Head to Head
When you analyze both types to the basics, cloud solutions are popular.
Instead of being accessible through expensive physical hardware, all data and applications are hosted off-premises, in the cloud. This includes all servers, software, and networks. Thus you get a real-time virtual environment that is hosted between multiple servers at the same time.
Investing money into purchasing physical in-house servers and other additional costs, you rent the data storage space on a pay-per-use basis and are more cost-effective.
In this model, all data and applications usually are evenly distributed across off-site servers. So if one server fails, downtime is avoided and no data is lost. This IT model ensures more storage space along with better server resources. Additional benefits include stronger computing power which drives your software and applications to perform better and faster.
Other Key Benefits and Differences
The overall cost-effectiveness is another key benefit of cloud computing. All the necessary hardware, ensuring security measures are in place, and keeping everything running smoothly is the responsibility of the cloud provider. So with all providers you only pay for what you use, just like your electricity bill or piped gas.
Other key differences are:
No time-consuming and costly in-house infrastructure administration.
- Scale in near real-time as needed as opposed to having to purchase or rent additional servers if and when you run out of storage space.
Cloud options are resilient and provide a consistent, superior level of server performance.
Considerably less susceptible to costly downtime.
Frees up critical team members to focus on tasks much more beneficial to the success of the company.
Retaining a team with specific infrastructure skill sets is no longer a necessity.
The ability to utilize multiple clouds, placing workloads where they are more cost-efficient and perform best.
Implementation is rather easy and considerably less expensive.
With a cloud provider that has more purchasing power and stays up-to-date with available solutions, you gain access to the latest and greatest innovations in emerging technology.
Substantially lower power bills as you’ll no longer be paying for the on-premise data center’s significant electricity consumption.
With the right partner, cloud management is a cinch and likely more affordable than you think.
Impact of Cloud
The type of benefits offered by Cloud Computing will vary according to the type of cloud service being used. Using cloud services means companies not having to buy or maintain their infrastructure.
For general applications, such as email, it can make sense to switch to a cloud provider. A company that specializes in running and securing these services is likely to have much better skills and more experienced staff than a small business could afford to hire. This means that cloud services may be able to deliver a more secure and efficient service to end-users.
Using cloud services, companies can move faster on projects and test out concepts without lengthy procurement procedures and big upfront costs. The ability to start new services without the time and effort associated with traditional IT procurement should mean that it is easier to get going with new applications faster. Also, if a new application becomes wildly popular the elastic nature of the cloud will allow it to scale it up fast.
Moving to a services model helps a company to move their spending to operational functions and this may be useful for some companies.
Below are the advantages and disadvantages of cloud computing:
Advantages of Cloud Computing
There are many benefits to moving your business to the cloud. A few of them are shared below:
|Reduced IT costs
|The flexibility of work practices
||Cloud computing security considerations.
||Back-up and restore data
||Automatic Software Integration
||Unlimited storage capacity
|Web-based control & interfaces
Disadvantages of Cloud Computing
With advantages you also have a few disadvantages listed below:
|Performance can Vary
||Security Threat and Privacy in the Cloud
||Vulnerability to attack
|Limited control and flexibility
||Lacks of Support
Each company needs to do due diligence to decide its way forward.
Different Cloud Service Providers
Cloud service providers (CSP) are companies that offer network services or business applications in the cloud. The cloud services are hosted in a data center that can be accessed by companies or individuals using the internet.
Efficiency and economies of scale are currently the large benefits of using a cloud service provider. Rather than companies having to build their infrastructure to support internal services and applications, the services can be purchased from the CSP.
List of some Top Cloud Service Providers
- Adobe Creative Cloud
- Alibaba Cloud
- Amazon Web Services
- Dell Cloud
- Oracle Cloud
- Google Cloud Platform
- IBM Cloud
- Red Hat
- Verizon Cloud
- Microsoft Azure
Amazon helped popularize the idea of cloud services with Amazon Web Services (AWS), which provides its IAAS service for web hosting and applications to millions of customers.
AWS was originally developed by Amazon as a way to leverage the significant infrastructure it had built up for its e-Commerce services.
Several software companies such as Salesforce and NetSuite have built their enterprise software services in the cloud, creating the market for SAAS.
Hosting providers such as Rackspace and Terremark offered web hosting and other hosted business services for IAAS to Cisco, Citrix, Google, IBM (SoftLayer), Microsoft (Azure), Oracle, and SAP, Rackspace, and Verizon (which acquired Terremark). Apple and Salesforce are also big names in cloud services but they are mostly focused on delivering their applications rather than hosting applications for others.
A list of some of the major CSPs and their approaches:
|Cloud Service Provider
Tips for selecting a Cloud Service Provider
The best Cloud Service cannot be defined. You need to choose a Cloud Service which suits your project and needs. Following are few tips which can help in shortlisting and finalizing a Service Provider:
- Is your desired region supported?
- Cost for the service and your budget
- Factor in the service provider’s Customer/Client Preference if an outsourced company
- The cost involved in training employees on the Cloud Service Platform
- Customer support
- Successful track record of stability/uptime/reliability
- Reviews of the company
Impact of Cloud Certification
The impact of Cloud Computing is undeniable.
Back in time if a single user wanted to access any particular files or wanted to run a program, then the user needed to connect to the server with proper access. Then time goes by and users are networked together and share the files or information on-demand basis by using distributed computing and it gives rise to cloud computing ideas.
In 1961 at MIT, John MacCharty shared the idea of cloud computing and its potential to become a commodity, just like electricity. Certainly, it was a good idea, but it was too ahead of time, and because of that for the next few decades this technology was not developed but passing time with an increase in interest urged the need for cloud computing.
Why do you need a Cloud Certification?
Resources with associate or professional level cloud certifications are scarce and often in high demand. Professionally, those who have cloud training and certification have a better chance of earning a higher salary and getting a promotion. Companies who get top cloud certifications also obtain substantial advantage over their competition, mainly if they are working toward becoming a certified partner or achieving higher partner status.
Top Paying Cloud Jobs in the market:
According to a recent report from Gartner, the top-paying cloud certifications for 2020 are:
Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect
AWS Certified Solutions Architect — Associate -
AWS Certified Developer — Associate
Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert: Server Infrastructure*
* Refers to Three cloud-focused Azure certifications:
- Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate
- Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate
- Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert
Impact on IT Organizations
Top IT companies agree that cloud computing could become the key delivery model for computing by 2030. The research found that more than half of enterprises worldwide feel that "cloud computing" is a high IT priority. Also, roughly two-thirds of enterprises are planning, implementing, or using cloud computing in some or another way. However, more than three-quarters of enterprises have security, access, or data control concerns with the public or private implementation of cloud computing. Nearly every IT organization is striving for cloud-enabling capability, provisioning, performance monitoring, service management, performance optimization, or automation. Yet, IT hiring managers report that the biggest reason for failure to fill open positions for cloud-related jobs is the candidates' lack of sufficient experience, training, or certification. Simply put, the workforce isn't ready; there is a “shortage of skill”.
How to start a career in Cloud computing?
You are probably already aware of the uprising of jobs for cloud computing skills in the job market but how can you forge a career in the Cloud computing jobs range? This includes everything from architects and developers to data scientists, security pros, etc but all requiring the same specific focus. Now you want to figure out what the best path forward will be, given your experience, your interests, your goals, and the market needs.
This Learning Path will introduce you to cloud computing in general, then give you insight into the three major platforms - Amazon Web Service (AWS), Microsoft's Azure, and Google Cloud Platform - before outlining career opportunities by role.
Start your career in cloud computing. After finishing this learning journey, you'll have insights into what the next steps for you should be. You will also have the guidance into which Cloud Academy Learning Path to pursue next.
Cloud computing offers many opportunities to IT professionals who can leverage their existing expertise while also embracing cloud computing technology. So join the Cloud community now!