Technological advancements are rapidly increasing at every moment; organizations are always looking to provide services in a scalable and flexible manner. Cloud computing is the latest buzzword in technology due to its flexibility, scalability, and cost efficiency. NIST defines cloud computing as “a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resource that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or services provider interaction.” Cloud computing is an Internet connected infrastructure that provides on demand access to networks, servers, storage, applications, and services.
There are five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models of the Cloud. The characteristics of the Cloud are rapid elasticity, broad network access, measured service, on demand self-service and resource pooling. Rapid elasticity indicates the Clouds ability to scale resources according to specific service requirements. “For example, you may need a large number of server resources for the duration of a specific task. You can then release these resources upon completion of the task” (Brown & Stallings, p. 168). Broad network access offers resources hosted in private cloud accessed by various devices. The Clouds measured service allows the system to monitor and control resource usage. Another characteristic of the Cloud is On-Demand-Self-Service, which allows users to manage their resources accordingly without interacting with the provider. The last characteristic of the Cloud is resource pooling, where the provider's resources are available to multiple users using a multi-tenant model. Resource pooling creates a Cloud environment, which makes it permissible to assign and adjust resources according to each consumers need. The characteristics define the Cloud and the services provided by the Cloud.
The three services that provide these resources are software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and infrastructure as a service (IaaS). SaaS permits users to access applications without the hassle of software installation, promoting immediate upgrades. Google Docs is one example of Software as a service, where the user has a front-end software interaction. Platform as services allows consumers to deploy self-produced applications using proper programming languages. The service advantages include fast application deployment and development. “PaaS often provides middleware-style services such as database and component services for use by applications” (Brown & Stallings, p. 168). Lastly, consumers are provided storage, networks, and computing resources to be capable to run software, operating systems, or applications using infrastructure as a service. The distinct services demonstrate the Cloud’s diverse functionality.
There are many advantages for a business moving to the cloud. Any company’s goal is to increase profits and reduce capital and operational expense. With cloud solutions, companies can reduce capital cost due to flexible server and infrastructure capacity. Cloud solutions are reliable resulting in 24/7 service availability and improved mobility. End users are able to access applications via the internet regardless of their location, which improves collaboration.
It is hard to argue that Cloud solutions are not beneficial for business. According to a blog by Skyhigh Network, “Companies that adopted cloud services experienced a 20.66% average improvement in time to market, 18.80% average increase in process efficiency, and 15.07% reduction in IT spending. Together, these benefits led to a 19.63% increase in company growth.” (Coles, para 4). Cloud solutions enhance cost efficiency, reliability, flexibility, manageability, and collaboration. Cloud solutions are the way forward.
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