Cloud Computing For Businesses: How Much Are You Really Using?
In the past, think about how companies used to do business. Manpower was one entity that simply needed to be fetched as per necessity from wherever it is available. Whichever industry you work on—automotive, technology, construction, media—you needed to gather critical expertise to work for an organization in your area. Organizations also needed to expand, set up operations in the third world to find personnel that could work for optimum wages in order to maximize profit. The advent of the Internet was one real relief for professionals as it first introduced the idea of work from anywhere. Today, the technology, especially that of distributed computing we now know as the cloud, has advanced so much that everything, from applications to professional talent, can be coordinated from the cloud.
Talent acquisition is extremely difficult as you well know. However, it is extremely important for business success. What if you need to acquire talent from locations where it is just not feasible for you to set up business operations? IT companies today have an immense advantage over traditional businesses. Technology companies are increasingly moving toward the cloud, over which all the applications, infrastructure, and platforms can be run with virtually infinite computing power and storage space.
Cloud has come with numerous advantages:
- Cost-efficient: Cloud computing is probably the most cost-efficient means to distribute resources.
- Maintainability: Rather than having your infrastructure distributed without coordination, have it distributed with coordination. It is highly maintainable and scalable.
- Unlimited storage: Why does cloud provide you with unlimited storage? Because the scalability is high and it can be expanded at any time as per requirement. The cloud interfaces make it extremely seamless to interact with the cloud. This also makes the cloud highly secure and recoverable and strengthens data integrity.
- Software integration: You heard about terms like SaaS (Software as a Service); in the cloud, it is illimitably possible to incorporate as many software applications as you need. Also, these software applications can run with maximum efficiency due to other natural benefits of the cloud. Not only software, but virtually anything can be integrated in the cloud—PaaS, IaaS, NaaS.
- Quick deployment: Is possible for the cloud, making it highly available to people across the globe.
- Security on the cloud: It can be as simple as a password to as complex and sophisticated as password+local encryption+biometrics. This shows how flexible cloud can really be in terms of security.
So, cloud computing can be really secure and scalable and cost-effective. Google’s own cloud infrastructure, which caters to the search giant’s major services, is pretty impressive. Over 425 million users; over 6 billion hours of YouTube videos; and billions and billions of searches, all returned in a matter of milliseconds, the Google cloud as you see is truly massive.
Are there any disadvantages? In fact, for the general public, cloud computing poses some confusions. For most of us, cloud computing may be a little expensive; also, the data security is something many people are worried about. Nothing anyway is more secure than the data in an unconnected computer. For most of us, cloud platforms provide much better security than the data on your personal computer.
Looking at the advantages mentioned above, you may be wondering how much of them you are really missing. Many of us may be wondering if we are taking the full advantage of what the cloud technology has to offer.
Not only Google, but all of the major technology companies out there are slowly moving to the cloud, experiencing the power of distributed computing. Take the storage services alone—Microsoft SkyDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, SugarSync, Apple iCloud, etc.; the growth is mind-numbing. These storage providers have basic applications installed on the cloud as well, for document opening, editing, presentations, etc. As the popularity of the platform rises, the number of apps available also increases. For businesses, the number of apps and capabilities are much greater.
Some Areas You Are Probably Missing Out On
Let us just look at the tip of the iceberg. Asana is a business collaboration tool that doesn’t need email. Desk.com is a technical support team that integrates with the cloud. You probably already know about Salesforce.com, Evernote, MailChimp, ZenDesk, Zoho, AWeber, PayPal, Slideshare, etc. These are only some of the apps that a popular cloud platform can integrate to. Think about the ways these apps can improve a company’s productivity.
Companies today are building apps that run from the cloud and provide significant, strategic operations. These apps can be well integrated with your company’s workforce so that people can work from anywhere and in any capacity. The way in which such cloud implementations improve technology development is unprecedented.
When it comes to cloud business service providers, you cannot discount Amazon Web Services (AWS). In the past few years, some of the companies that successfully implemented their infrastructure with the help of AWS include Lionsgate Entertainment, Forsquare, Adobe, SAP, Spotify, Nokia, General Electric, etc. These companies save billions of dollars of revenue by converging AWS cloud technology with their infrastructure. Now the erstwhile bookseller is a cloud-computing giant with AWS creating a huge chunk of Amazon’s revenue.
In cloud, the four major types of service that everyone knows about are Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (Saas), and Network as a Service (NaaS). In IaaS, you get to see virtual machines, networked storage servers, load balancers, etc. In PaaS, you are given a computing platform itself, with an OS, such as Linux, an operating environment, a web server, an application programming environment, etc. In SaaS, you are given the capability to run any application through the cloud infrastructure. Most of the cloud services you find online are in the SaaS form, wherein you are given access to the software and associated database for a subscription fee. In NaaS implementations, you can get virtual networks, extended, flexible virtual private networks, etc.
With such advanced, breathtaking capabilities, cloud computing is going forward. You should be able to find any software, service, platform, or infrastructure on the cloud with all the capabilities you ever need. You just have to look for it. Also, converging the necessary applications within a cloud platform specifically built for your organization can give you amazing benefits going forward. You can become a truly distributed company with employees logging in from around the globe and working on their own clock.
By Lenin VJ Nair,
Lenin works for MSys Technologies, a technology services company with a focus on storage, cloud, distributed computing, testing, and test automation. During spare time, he can also be seen blogging in Blue Bugle.