Technology has taken huge leaps in the last few decades leading to the development of advanced products and devices that have forever transformed the way we live and work. One of these advancements is in the way we store and access our data. From floppy disks to compact disks, to external hard drives, to USB flash drives, data storage, and sharing has undergone a significant transformation over the last fifty years. Data storage devices are becoming cheaper, smaller and with much greater capacity making data handling a painless activity today.
The latest advancement in storage technology is the introduction of cloud computing. One no longer needs a storage device to store files or data. Instead, you can create, save, retrieve and share data from any terminal at any time and place, thanks to cloud computing. Before we delve into how cloud computing works, let’s first understand its meaning.
Definition of cloud computing
The term ‘cloud’ is a metaphor for the internet. Therefore, cloud computing is a way for individuals and companies to access computing resources via the internet, from any location in the world with internet connection. These computing resources include data storage, servers, networking, software, analytics and many more.
How cloud computing works
The computing resources we mentioned above are provided by cloud providers. For cloud computing to work, three major components have to be present; front end, back end and network. Together these components form the cloud computing architecture. Below is a brief description of each of these components.
- Front-end: This refers to the client’s computer or mobile device and the application required to access the cloud computing system. In most cases, the application is a web browser although other systems may require special applications.
- Backend: This refers to the computer infrastructure owned by the cloud provider such as computers, servers, operating systems and storage devices. All the data stored in the cloud is usually stored on the storage devices while software applications run on the cloud are run on the computers. Each software application will also have a dedicated server while a central server will be used to monitor traffic and client demands and ensure everything runs smoothly as required.
- Network: This is the key component because it allows the connection of the above two components via the internet.
Cloud service providers integrate all these components together to ensure seamless delivery of computing services to a variety of users using the various cloud service models. Let’s consider a typical example that uses cloud computing. If you have an email account with an e-mail service such as Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail, then you can log into your email account via the web without installing an email program on your computer or mobile device. You can also access all the information and files in your email account via the web. The software and storage for your email account do not exist on your device, but rather it exists on the service’s computer cloud.
Simply put, cloud computing shifts the workload from your local computer or device to that of the computer infrastructure owned by the cloud provider.
How is cloud computing used?
Cloud computing can be used in virtually every industry to improve efficiency and service delivery. Here are a few cases of how cloud computing is used. These cases also describe how to use cloud computing for a business organization.
- Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS)
IaaS involves renting computer infrastructure such as servers and storage systems from cloud providers and then paying for them on a pay-per-use scheme. PaaS involves the development, testing, deployment, and management of software applications using the cloud provider’s infrastructure and environment. Both cases help organizations eliminate the cost of acquiring and maintaining computer infrastructure.
- Big data analytics
Cloud computing has enabled technology companies to easily and efficiently perform big data analytics hence extracting business value by selling this information to retailers and suppliers all over the world.
- Disaster recovery
Cloud computing has been the fastest and cost-effective option for businesses to secure and recover their assets and data in case of a disaster. This is usually done through cloud-based backup and recovery services.
- Private cloud and hybrid cloud
Private cloud and hybrid cloud are options for deploying cloud resources apart from the commonly used public cloud. They offer more scalability, flexibility, and security for organizations as compared to public cloud.
In conclusion, cloud computing offers a boatload of benefits especially for business organizations by enabling them to increase competitiveness, efficiency, and productivity in their services. You no longer have to invest in powerful supercomputers, servers, and networks, all you need is to contact a reliable cloud service provider and then focus on growing your business through them.