Cloud Computing technology is primarily utilized in the following three manners; Software as A Service (SAAS), Platform as A Service (PAAS), Infrastructure as A Service (IAAS). The preceding three methods of utilization are unique in terms of the benefits organizations accrue through implementing the technology within their organization structure and in terms of the flexibility a user obtains.
Software as a service allows users to access existing online applications for free or on a subscription basis while Platform as a service permits users to create their own applications and Infrastructure as a service allows users to operate applications on cloud hardware of their choosing. I have used all three variants of cloud computing technology as I have used Google Docs which is a form of SAAS, Google App Engine which is a variant of PAAS and due to my employment I partook in IAAS as I used applications that were operating on a virtual server.
Cloud Computing technology can also be broken down into the following three segments; Public Cloud, Hybrid Cloud and Private Cloud. Public cloud refers to a form of cloud computing where resources are provided on a self-service basis through the internet. Hybrid cloud computing is primarily utilized by organizations and it is a blend of private and public clouds. Private cloud is also primarily used by organizations as it allows the organizations to retain control over the security of its data.
Organizations are able to retain control as the private cloud operates within the boundaries of the organization’s IT protocols and within the organization’s fire wall. Although Cloud Computing technology is currently the rage within the information technology industry, the technology’s early life (1960’s 1999) was rather uneventful as the necessary platforms such as high-speed internet were not developed. Cloud computing technology garnered mainstream attention when Sales Force effectively integrated the technology within its infrastructure and processes in 1999 (Britton, 2011).
Amazon provided further impetus to the growth of Cloud Computing by launching Amazon Web Services in 2002 and Elastic Compute Cloud in 2006 (Holden, 2012). Amazon Web Services demonstrated to organizations that cloud computing is a viable alternative to fulfill their storage and processing requirements and Elastic Compute Cloud was described by Jeremy Allaire, CEO of Brightcove, as being “The first widely accessible cloud computing infrastructure service” (Kimmel, 2012).
The growth of Cloud Computing was provided further stimulus in 2009 as Google embraced the technology and created the popular Google Apps application (Holden, 2012). It would be safe to state that most technology experts in the 1980’s would not have foreseen Cloud Computing technology developing into a major force in the information technology industry, however the fact that the Merrill Lynch valued the current global cloud computing market at $160 billion truly disproves the opinions they held (Ingothersson, 2012).
Cloud Computing technology has been growing at a profound rate because it provides organizations the ability to conduct their processes in a manner that is innovative, cost effective and efficient. Cloud Computing reduces an organization’s need for servers as an organization can simply utilize the “cloud servers”. By tapping into a shared pool of servers, organizations can eliminate idle capacity as they will use only what they need.
Organizations will save costs as they will not be obliged to purchase, store and maintain servers or software applications as they can purchase the data or software on a pay per use basis. Other benefits of cloud computing include organizations obtaining updates for their software applications from their “cloud providers” on a whole scale basis and the ability of their employees to access software applications from any compatible mobile device.
For an organization the latter benefits translate in to cost savings as capital costs will decrease as the expenditure on infrastructure will reduce, economies of scale will be achieved as cost per unit/project will reduce and increased integration of processes and departments will be achieved as individuals across national boundaries will be able to access the same software application from any place provided they have a mobile device. Despite the many positive attributes of cloud computing, the technology has not been fully refined nor has it matured. Thus it does have negative aspects.
One such negative aspect of cloud computing is that organizations that have integrated cloud computing technology within their infrastructure will be left wholly dependent on their cloud service providers as they themselves will not have the servers or the applications to fulfill their needs. If the cloud providers suffer an outage, the organizations that depend on the cloud providers will also suffer. Organizations that have incorporated cloud computing within their infrastructure will also be dependent on their cloud providers to safeguard their data and to ensure that privacy is upheld.
Organizations could also lose the flexibility they have if they adopt SAAS type of cloud computing as the generic software that cloud service providers are distributing may not completely fulfill the unique requirements of organizations. An organization may also lose its corporate identity due to cloud computing as the successful incorporation of cloud computing technology within an organization’s structure will require amendments in the organization’s policies, departments and corporate culture. Therefore, it is apparent that cloud computing technology is not erfect by any means nor is it the solution for every problem that organizations hope to curtail. Regardless of its negative attributes the future of cloud computing technology is promising as statistics indicate that 60% of server workloads will be virtualized by 2014 (C, 2012). Although critics may point out that 60% is not a very high percentage, the fact that only 12% of server workloads were virtualized in 2008 gives credence to the argument that cloud computing is increasingly being accepted as the preferred option (C, 2012).
Furthermore industry analysts predict that 50% of the Global 1000 companies will store sensitive customer data on public clouds (C, 2012). It would not be inappropriate to state that once the market leaders successfully store data on public clouds other firms and organizations will follow suit. Being in harmony with societal and technological trends is perhaps the most significant reason as to why cloud computing will dominate the future information technology industry.
Current market trends indicate that web based applications are demanded by customers on their mobile devices and that the application market is growing exponentially. Indeed, cloud computing is the most convenient method to host those applications as it is cost effective. As per 2012 80% of commercial applications were deployed on cloud platforms (“Cloud computing market,” 2012). It would not be inappropriate to state that in the near future a high percentage of private applications will also be deployed on cloud platforms.
Although, statistics indicate that cloud computing will continue to grow at a high rate, one must be aware that cloud computing is not a perfect technology. If there are security breaches, cloud computing may cease to be a viable option and organizations may adopt an alternate technology to fulfill their requirements. For information technology enthusiasts cloud computing presents an array of exciting possibilities that include, more applications, increased accessibility and a platform for innovation.
Cloud computing is being increasingly adopted by organizations worldwide as adoption results in cost savings, economies of scale and overall efficiency. Current market trends such as the demand for web based applications provide impetus to the argument that cloud computing will continue to grow within the information technology market. Despite the growth of cloud computing, many organizations remain cautious of the technology as there are concerns that sensitive data stored on private and public clouds may not be secure.
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