In 1959, Kurt Vonnegut wrote about cloud computing in his book “Sirens of Titan”. He referred to a cloud “that does all the thinking for everybody”. Others say Cloud computing is really believed to have been invented by Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider in the 1960s. Cloud computing is a kind of Internet-based computing that provides shared processing resources and data to computers and other devices on demand. It is a model for enabling on-demand access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources. Cloud computing and storage solutions provide users and enterprises with various capabilities to store and process their data in third-party data centers. It relies on sharing of resources to achieve coherence and economies of scale. At the foundation of cloud computing is the broader concept of converged infrastructure and shared services. There are various types of Cloud computing advantages and a limited amount of disadvantages.
Many talk about benefits of cloud computing but to determine the best option for a cloud solution, one needs some cloud computing basics. There are different types of cloud computing. For website hosting, examples of cloud hosting can fall under both the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). Under IaaS offerings, the client is simply provided with the virtualized hardware resource on which they can install their own choice of software environment before building their web application. On a PaaS service, however, the client is also provided with this software environment, for example, as a solution stack (operating system, database support, web server software, and programming support), on which they can go straight to installing and developing their web application. Businesses with complex IT infrastructures and experienced IT professionals may wish to opt for the more customizable IaaS model but others may prefer the ease of a PaaS option. Broadly speaking, a client can tap into their service as much as they need, depending on the demands of their website, and they will only pay for what they use.
For multiple site companies, cloud computing can save thousands of dollars in equipment. As an example, a large car dealer with multiple sites does not have to purchase and maintain servers at all of the sites. A better plan, a definitive advantage of cloud computing would be for one location to have a server and all data is backed up to the cloud. A development of the concept of cloud hosting for enterprise customers is the Virtual Data Centre (VDC). This employs a virtualized network of servers in the cloud which can be used to host all of a business’s IT operations including its websites. Basically, it is like renting storage space, only pay for what is used. Having the data in the cloud allows for customization. A business can determine how much memory, processing power, and storage space is required and easily increase your cloud computing resources when the need increases. No longer do you have the overhead of maintaining or recycling old equipment along with purchasing all new equipment.
Another type of Cloud Hosting service is telephone. Rather than spending thousands of dollars for an on-premise telephone system which may become obsolete in 15-20 years, some organizations would prefer a monthly fee, which is more manageable for them. As long as the office cabling is Cat5 or above, phones can be placed throughout the office where a computer is located. Taylored Systems specializes in proving hosted solutions for those not wanting the immediate out of pocket expense. Zultys, Toshiba, and ESI all have relatively inexpensive solutions sold and serviced by Taylored Systems. An assessment of the internal cabling and network infrastructure by Taylored Systems can help determine if this is the right solution for a business. A Hosted system lets employees work from their home, hotel, any location and possibly use their own cell phone while still being connected to the office telephone system. Just like the best on-premise systems, you can transfer calls, use music on hold, set up conference calls, or have the phone answered by an automated attendant who can direct callers to different departments.
To summarize, a typical cloud hosting offering can deliver the following features and benefits:
- Reliability: rather than being hosted on one single instance of a physical server the data is hosted on a virtual partition which draws its resources, such as disk space, from an extensive network of underlying physical servers. Some cloud platforms could even survive an entire data center going offline as the pooled cloud resource is drawn from multiple data centers in different locations to spread the risk.
- Physical Security: the underlying physical servers are still housed within data centers and so benefit from the security measures that those facilities implement to prevent people accessing or disrupting them on-site
- Scalability and Flexibility: resource is available in real time on demand and not limited to the physical constraints/capacity of one server. If a client’s site demands extra resource from its hosting platform due to a spike in visitor traffic or the implementation of new functionality, the resource is accessed seamlessly. Even when using a private cloud model the service can often be allowed to ‘burst’ to access resources from the public cloud for non-sensitive processing if there are surges in activity on the site.
- Utility style costing: the client only pays for what they actually use. The resource is available for spikes in demand but there is no wasted capacity remaining unused when demand is lower.
- Responsive load balancing: load balancing is software based and, therefore, can be instantly scalable to respond to changing demands
Although there are many advantages of cloud computing, there are a few disadvantages which must be reviewed. The first is simply, the internet is a single point of failure. If the internet is not up, and bandwidth is not available then it is impossible to access the data in the cloud. Redundancy is the solution. If data is typically accessed daily, it is imperative to have an internet backup or failover. Secondly and perhaps the most important is security. A full investigation of the cloud-based service provider before entering into an agreement is essential. Sophisticated providers will understand the data security requirements in the customer’s industry, have proper security measures in place, have independent audits conducted that confirm the environment is secure, offer 99.9%-plus availability and have easily accessible support. Companies in multiple locations should also evaluate the location of the stored data and how the services are structured to avoid problems with data transfer restrictions and the system’s processing and response time.