What is Cloud Computing – A Complete Overview

What is cloud computing

What is Cloud Computing?

In simple terms, cloud computing is a technology used for storing and accessing data, application and programs over the Internet. Cloud computing refers to the delivery of hosted and computing services including servers, storage, databases, networking, analytics, and intelligence over the internet (Cloud). Cloud computing or cloud service is a following result of extensive virtualization adoption and evolution of service-oriented architecture and utility computing.

It allows the user to access digitized resources on the internet without any geographical and time constraints. Cloud computing services are generally provided by third party vendors or cloud computing service providers in order to eliminate or reduce the need of on-site hardware and software.

Cloud computing services are thrived with distinct characteristics that set them apart from other available options, making them a highly attractive option for businesses. 

How Cloud Computing Works?

Cloud computing allows you to store information in virtual servers controlled by cloud service providers. The respective virtual system is controlled by applications that allows users to log into a web-based service that hosts all the important programs. It uses remote machines to run e-mails, word processing, and complex data analysis programs.

In order to cope up with workload shifts and heavy lifting of running applications, a cloud system based on a network of computers is developed. This decreases the need of software and hardware assistance from the user side.            

What are the Advantages of Cloud Computing?

Since its advent, cloud computing solutions have increasingly gained popularity in the enterprise sector. In the year 2017, it was predicted that almost 85% of enterprises use cloud storage solutions for keeping their sensitive data safe.

According to reports published by Forbes, almost 83% of enterprise workload will be done in cloud by year 2020. Many experts also believe that by year 2022, 95% of all workloads will be completed in the cloud.

Cloud computing initiates a grand shift from the old traditional IT management systems to new and improved digitally-powered administration. Some benefits of cloud computing include:

  • Reduction of capital costs
  • Improved functioning speed
  • Enhanced business productivity
  • Excelled performance
  • Top notch security

According to the premier global marketing intelligence firm International Data Corporation, global spending on cloud computing is expected to grow by 6x the rate of Information Technology (IT) spending by year 2020. If statistics are to be believed, it can be concluded that cloud computing is the future of the IT Domain.

CASE STUDY: Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI)

Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) is a non-profit and non-government body that serves as the first port of call for the Indian industry and international business community.

FICCI used Rediffmail, a web-based email service until 2012. Over the years, the organization experienced a number of limitations with respect to availability and reliability of the platform. They experienced frequent data loss while slow server response and services emerged as their biggest concerns.

Since FICCI had access to confidential and sensitive information, they needed a secure solution that eliminated all their concerns. Thus, they deployed a stable and reliable platform, Microsoft Office 365 that provided them with enhanced storage, quick service support, and top-notch security.

According to FICCI officials, incorporation of Microsoft Office 365 benefitted them with significant savings and eliminated the capital expenditure amounts. It delivered an enhanced experience and improved collaboration across their offices worldwide.          

What are the Different Types of Cloud?

Cloud technology has the capability to empower the global enterprise sector with enhanced business solutions. It allows enterprises to avail significant benefits with customized applications, specifically designed by multi-cloud service providers in accordance of business needs.

Since every enterprise is different in terms of nature and business goals, it is important to settle on resources that are best for business. Thus, business experts suggest concerned authorities to select the most appropriate type of cloud (based on deployment) that integrates smoothly with enterprise functionality.

Cloud computing service providers mainly offer three types of cloud deployment. These include:

  1. Private Cloud

Private cloud provides exclusively designed cloud infrastructure and applications for an enterprise. The respective infrastructure can be hosted by a private cloud service provider or it can be physically installed at an enterprise’s own data centers. Since it is exclusively designed in accordance with enterprise needs, services and infrastructure is maintained on a private network. Some advantages of private cloud services include:

  • Flexible functioning
  • Efficient security with enhanced privacy
  • Significant control over management

Private cloud solutions are infused with additional layers of security that ensure complete protection to the sensitive and confidential data of enterprises.

  1. Public Cloud

Public cloud is operated and managed by the public cloud service providers. It is a platform based on standard cloud computing models that provides application storage and specialized services. It allows access to resources in the cloud to multiple users and manages the count using a web browser. Some advantages of public cloud services include:

  • Cost effective solution
  • Requires low maintenance
  • Significantly reliable
  • Offers scalability resources

Many public cloud solution providers also offer Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) alongside that encourages the remote working culture.   

  1. Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid cloud computing firms believe that hybrid cloud is the best of both worlds. It combines on-premises infrastructure, private cloud amenities and public cloud amenities to deliver smooth movement of data and applications with surged flexibility and increased deployment options. Some advantages of availing hybrid cloud services include:

  • Provides efficient control with ease of transitioning
  • Flexibility in movement of data or applications

According to IT experts, hybrid cloud solutions aid enterprises in optimizing their existing infrastructure, security and compliance.

In order to tender maximum customer satisfaction and assistance, cloud service providers offer specialized services, including cloud advisory services and cloud consulting services. They not only help enterprises to choose the best type of cloud, but also help them to identify and deploy cloud strategies that can cater to their existing and future business needs.  

CASE STUDY: Getitinfomedia (GI)

Getitinfomedia was a leading information service provider that offered an excellent search platform. It possessed a strong national infrastructure and a professional team that delivered a value for money local search and allied service across print, voice, online, and mobile platforms. 

The company was growing exponentially with an average growth rate of 10% on a monthly basis. The company was expecting a 5x growth by year 2016 which could have surpassed the capacity of their existing IT infrastructure. Furthermore, the company was expecting a 100-fold increase in the enterprise data.  

Thus, in order to cope up with the humongous amount of data and rapid growth, the company needed a radically different technology approach. Therefore, migrating to a public cloud emerged as their natural choice. They moved to Microsoft Azure and migrated their 25 workloads on the platform.

According to CEO Jaspreet Bindra, the move to Microsoft Azure proved highly beneficial for the company. It effectively reduced the company’s turnaround time, website and application loading time, and response time while cutting costs dramatically.      

What are the Different Types of Cloud Services?

Cloud computing empowers developers and the IT department of enterprises with the ability to focus on the most important business matters. Thus, in order to cater to specific enterprise needs, cloud computing service providers offer three types of services based on cloud computing models. Since they are built on top of one another, they are often known as cloud computing stacks. The three types of cloud services include:

  1. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

Software-as-a-Service, or popularly known as SaaS method, delivers on-demand software applications on a subscription basis over the internet. With SaaS, cloud service providers host and manage software applications and underlying infrastructure while providing timely software upgrades and security patches. It promotes ease of usage and allows users to access applications over the internet with web browsers. Some advantages of SaaS cloud services include:

  • Reduced burden of maintenance
  • Decrement with respect to software piracy
  • Lesser on-site IT infrastructure  
  • Mobilizing of workforce

According to experts, SaaS allows enterprises to get running with applications with minimal upfront costs. 

  1. Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

Platform-as-a-Service or PaaS refers to a cloud computing service that allows enterprises to focus on the deployment and management of applications. It supplies on-demand environment for developing, testing, managing, and delivery of software applications.

According to professional cloud experts, PaaS aids developers in creation of mobile and web applications and management of underlying infrastructure of servers, storage, networks and databases. Some advantages associated with PaaS include:

  • Adds development capabilities without additional workforce
  • Allows remote functioning without geographical constrains
  • Holds capabilities to manage application lifecycle

PaaS provides a framework that developers can use for the development and customization of cloud-based applications.

  1. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

Infrastructure-as-a-Service or IaaS is the most basic category of cloud computing services. It involves renting of IT infrastructure including servers, virtual machines, networks, etc. from the cloud providers on a pay-as-you-go basis. Some advantages of IaaS include:

  • Eliminates capital expenses and reduces ongoing costs
  • Improved business continuity and disaster recovery
  • Enterprises can focus more on core business operations rather on IT infrastructure

IaaS provides enterprises with all the IT infrastructure that is required to support web applications, servers and networking resources. It also empowers them with cloud infrastructure services to easily control the scalability of the respective infrastructure.

Is Cloud Computing Secure?

Reports claim that the global recognition of cloud benefits has leveraged enterprises to increase their reliance on cloud computing solutions. This has considerably increased the demand of cloud integration services as many businesses look forward to improving their work efficiency.

While many professionals believe that cloud has surged their business’ productivity, others have raised concerns over data security on cloud platforms.

A survey conducted by Symantec revealed that cybercriminals view the cloud infrastructure as a potential goldmine. This made cloud prone to cyber-attacks, following which cloud security emerged as a top concern for all chief operating officers (CISO’s) worldwide.

Since cloud has access to an enterprise’s most sensitive and crucial information, cloud computing companies have integrated various security features with cloud computing platforms. Some security features provided by cloud service providers include:       

  • Perimeter and Internal Firewalls
  • Intrusion Detection System
  • Data Encryptions
  • Protection against DDoS

What is Cloud Migration?

Cloud migration is the process of moving all business data, applications and other business components hosted on servers to a cloud environment. The various types of cloud migration include:

  • Transfer of data and applications from a local on-premise data center to a cloud platform
  • Transfer of data and applications from one cloud platform to another latest and improved one. This is commonly known as cloud-to-cloud migration.

According to a forecast, the global cloud market was valued at almost $1960 million. Since many enterprises have started availing cloud migration services, the market is expect to reach almost $8678 million, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of around 23.6%.

What are the Benefits of Migrating to a Cloud Platform?

Cloud migration securely moves all business relevant data from an enterprise’s inefficient desktop and servers to a cloud platform. Often considered as the first step towards adoption of cloud computing, it is associated with various auxiliary benefits.

It empowers enterprises by enhancing their operations and management with scalability, reliability and flexibility. While it lowers the cost of operations, it substantially offers improved analytics and disaster recovery plans as well.   

Enterprises that availed cloud migration services believe cloud computing to have most measurable impacts on their business operations. Some primary benefits of migrating to a cloud platform include:

  • Ameliorates Information Technology (IT) resource management while unburdening enterprise’s IT teams.
  • Encourages the remote working culture that improves overall business productivity.
  • Automates various tasks like application updates to save time.
  • Enhances collaboration and makes the process of Merging and Acquisitions (M&A’s) easy. This provides enterprises with opportunities to grow and expand.

Cloud computing is the most efficient technology that is driving this era of digitization. It has significantly changed the global business landscape by facilitating them with accelerated growth.       

CASE STUDY: Hero Motocorp

Hero motocorp is the largest two-wheeler manufacturer in the world with a market share of almost 46% in two wheeler category. It works with many technical and design teams based out in Europe, North America and India. These respective teams were required to work in coherence on various assignments. They needed to collaborate with each other while providing special care to the security of intellectual property while sharing information.

The company used a cloud solution that posed a lot of security threat and tracking challenges during collaboration. Thus, they developed a solution based on Microsoft Azure and migrated their critical data and applications to a reliable and secure platform. The respective platform took care of all company requirements with respect to storage, service support and security.

According to Vijay Sethi, Vice President and CIO of Hero Motocorp, migration to Azure helped the company to collaborate across global business boundaries with ease and flexibility. The solution dealt with all the concerns regarding security and information availability.         

How to Migrate to the Cloud?

Cloud computing has gained a lot of popularity lately and emerged as a standard for modern applications and enterprises. Since it offers a pool of benefits, enterprises are availing cloud migration services for migrating to cloud platforms from their old traditional legacy systems. The process involves development and deciding of cloud migration strategies.

Some tips to securely move to a cloud platform include:

  • Establishment of migration-architect role and selection of cloud integration level. Enterprises can choose from a single cloud environment or a multi cloud environment.
  • Select the right cloud platform in accordance of enterprise needs from trusted cloud computing service providers. Azure hybrid cloud solutions and Office 365 cloud solutions are some of the best-in-class cloud services.
  • Conduct deep research and audits with regard to licensing, data integrity, website traffic, processor demands and trends. Enterprises should also check the obsolescence of existing hardware resources.
  • Create strategic data migration plans and review application resource allocation.

Cloud migration is a complicated process that involves transferring of sensitive and crucial business information and applications. According to IT experts, migrating to a cloud platform unshackles enterprises from constrains leveraged by old systems and modernizes their maneuverability.       

Is cloud computing the future?

Cloud computing is one of the most powerful determinants of this information age and is likely to mark the pinnacle of the digitization era. It is firmly believed that the world will experience a shift from hardware oriented functioning to a software oriented functioning in the near future. This will make cloud computing a supreme technology that will drive all business operations in the world of unlimited connectivity.

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