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The Who, Why & What of Cloud Computing


By NIIT Editorial

Published on 05/06/2020

8 minutes

Cloud computing is the outsourcing of the most basic functionalities of computing processes that includes offering on-demand use of storage capacity, servers, databases, networking, processing power, and software through the internet. Cloud service providers charge subscribers exactly for the portion of computing services they use. Such an IT business model is highly effective at letting workers focus on core business needs without worrying about software management. Although the history of cloud computing dates back to the 1960s, its recent transformation and roots of the adoption wave can be traced to the mid-2000s. That was when Google CEO Larry Schmidt coined this term in a conference.

It started gaining widespread adoption around the mid-2000s with the industry spread its tentacles to span an empire of $227.8 billion as of 2019. A direct benefit of cloud computing is it helps mitigate IT infrastructural expenses for organizations. As a result, in times of rising demand for services, IT teams can optimize resource management.

Characteristics of Cloud Computing

Let us quickly go over the typical characteristics that symbolize cloud computing.

Flexibility

It gives great flexibility to organizations with the requisite technological infrastructure available at their fingertips.

Device Independence

Thanks to third-party systems, and the far-reaching capabilities of the internet, services are delivered using a browser facilitating room for multi-device compatibility.

On-Demand Maintenance

Outsourcing maintenance work for CPUs, databases, and other software/hardware needs saves you the labour costs associated with performing dedicated, routine audits.

Multitenancy

Internet-enabled services make it possible for multiple users to benefit from sharing a centralized infrastructure and customize resource use as per the instances of peak capacity.

Increases Productivity

Cloud computing does away with the need for on-premises software installations. In other words, since the pool of users is dependent on a centralized system for work, software upgrades and troubleshooting (during downtime) are managed by experts hired by the cloud computing vendor.

Security

It is believed that the security systems installed in cloud computing match, and sometimes exceed conventional computing systems. This results from the fact that cloud vendors run security teams backed by superior finances, versus a standalone IT department of a company.

Types of Cloud Deployment Models

Based on the nature of deployment, cloud computing can be subscribed in 3 variants:

  1. Private Cloud

As the name suggests, a private cloud is assigned to a single user/organization. It could be managed either on-premises or be taken care of by the vendor externally. Essentially, through this model, a private network is assigned to the organization that could either have the entire cloud setting to itself or the company pays a third party for providing it the storage capacity. The latter is the most abundantly used mode of private cloud as that adds to resource maximization and savings.

  1. Public Cloud

Public cloud refers to the deployment model where all the resources of computing are owned and managed by an external vendor and leased out to users. As against a private cloud, where an entire network is dedicated to a single organization, public clouds are open for all to use (not to be mistaken with free). Prime examples of such service providers include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and Oracle. They deliver services over the internet at the same time taking full responsibility for the uptime.

  1. Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid clouds combine the elements of private and public cloud applications at the same time keeping both distinct from each other. For instance, IT organizations prefer to store critical user information on private servers, stationed on-premises but could inter-connect that with a second application running on the third-party’s IT infrastructure. The main motive of turning to a hybrid cloud style of computing is to avail interoperability.

 

Types of Cloud Service Models

The National Science Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) lays out 3 prime types of cloud service models. They are as follows:

 

  1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

In simple words, IaaS lets users avail infrastructural needs related to computing by delivering the same through the internet. The product suite usually includes networks, servers, Virtual Machines (VMs), and storage spaces. Such components are not necessarily tied to a unitary package but can be offered as individual components for which you pay for the amount of resource you use. Since infrastructure here, predominantly means hardware. Therefore, it is up to the subscriber to purchase and install software specifications.

The objective behind renting hardware capacity from a third party could be to create and eventually disintegrate testing and development environments. The costs of renting such a facility would be exponentially lower than buying new hardware.

You could use it to host your website than purchasing and installing expensive servers to be run 24/7.

Storing data comes with its baggage of regulatory protocols, not to mention the added cost of hiring trained professionals to oversee the smooth functioning of the system. All that can be managed at a fraction of the total cost with IaaS.

You can deploy and scale web applications in conjunction with the demand.

Depending upon the T&C of the service level agreements, the IaaS vendor could ensure adequate security layers that otherwise may be out of bounds of the organization due to financial strangleholds.

New applications can be introduced to the market at a faster pace due to a pre-managed IT infrastructure.

 

  1. Platform as a Service (PaaS)

The cloud computing vendor provides a development environment to engineers through Platform as a Service. It is an industry-wide practice to enable developers to handle end-to-end application development stages from building, testing, and deploying to managing and updating. The platform could (and must) offer customers essential work-related components such as an operating system, a compiler/environment for the programming-languages to be executed, servers (obviously), and databases. PaaS goes one step ahead of IaaS, fulfilling the hardware requirement of clients but augmenting that with software layers that include application architecture and business intelligence. 

It is much simpler to develop applications with pre-coded directories and workflows.

PaaS capabilities let customers avail technological components, administered by the vendor, and therefore cut recruiting costs to hire talent, otherwise needed to do the same.

If you tie-up with a top-class third-party service provider, they can offer cross-platform application development/deployment options for everything from PCs to smartphones.

Remember, the development environment is not restricted to an on-premises location but accessible to people across the globe making round the shift operations possible for off-shore teams.

 

  1. Software as a Service (SaaS)

This is probably the service model that you might have heard of the most. Software as a service (SaaS) renders the use of cloud-based applications effective via the internet. Apps such as the email, Dropbox, or Apple music all work on the same principle. The vendor rents both the infrastructure as well as the platform (IaaS + PaaS) to the user. They install and run the software in the cloud, following which the user-organization accesses the same using a client. The maintenance of the platform is undertaken by the vendor. When users run software on the cloud, they nullify the scope of database storage systems.

SaaS makes it possible for organizations to use commercial variants of enterprise software solutions be it Customer Relationship Management or Enterprise Resource Planning, or a Learning Management System.  

This model is attuned to mark up the resources required to compliment the rise in user requests as and when the occasion arises.

Users can access their account by a web browser or at times by downloading and installing plugins.

SaaS apps are compatible with multiple devices such as phones, tablets, and computers allowing the organizational hierarchy to access the same anytime, anywhere.

 

  1. Backend as a Service (Baas)

It is a model that is predominantly used by developers to optimize the functioning of their application by outsourcing their backend services on to third party cloud. By doing so, programmers need only be concerned with writing error-free code and maintain the front-end of the app. Some of the functions that a BaaS vendor supervises are database management, storage management, and hosting to name some. The application itself could be web or mobile-based. It is through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and System Development Toolkits (SDKs) that developers integrate their front ends with the third-party BaaS architecture.

BaaS is designed keeping in mind mobile app development although it stands solid ground for the development of API frameworks.

It cuts short months of tedious back and forth that goes on behind developing and running on-premises backend systems.

Subscribers can scale it as per their business exigencies thereby customizing the bandwidth for better resource management.

 

  1. Function as a Service (FaaS)

Also referred to as Serverless Architecture, it is a model where the applications are hosted by a third party vendor. At a minutiae level, the application is fragmented into distinct functions that can be activated individually as per the demands of the business. The difference between FaaS and PaaS lies in the way developers create and eventually deploy their applications on the cloud. It is vital to note that this ultimately affects the scalability of the app itself. When creating applications, developers can designate each function autonomously. Users pay only for the instances when the function call is invoked. In comparison with other models of cloud computing, this is exponentially effective as you pay for the total instances, versus the entirety of time for hosting and/or keeping the application live.

 

Uses of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is everywhere. The most popular applications of the day, such as Netflix, Spotify, or Gmail are all running on cloud servers. In the current timeline, that is the only way to optimize profit margins in an online, high-data based business. Let us quickly peruse through the typical uses of this technology:

  1. You can create applications that are native to the cloud with elements such as Kubernetes, microservices, and APIs.
  2. Data can be stored intelligently by outsourcing the function to a cloud computing vendor.
  3. Online tech businesses that service their audience content in either audio or video form will benefit immensely from optimizing their IT resources.
  4. You can deliver the latest version of an app to each customer, irrespective of their location globally with SaaS.

Web and mobile applications can be developed, tested, and deployed in lesser time with minimum resources.



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