Confused about Cloud Computing?
According to recent data, the average person is still in the dark about the Cloud
Chances are, if you ask the average person what cloud computing is and how they feel about it you’re going to get some wildly mixed responses. The fact is, most people still don’t have a clue about the real potential of the cloud and certainly don’t understand what separates the technology from its forerunner(s). In a nutshell, cloud computing constitutes a completely “elastic” (and collective) approach to computing and networking where hardware and/or software are completely centralized. Through a cloud, resources are remotely managed by vendors who offer metered services (which are technically capable of delivering higher performance capabilities) at even lower costs than expected. Simply put, the cloud is an extensive set of resources which automatically shift and mold to meet your requirements.
Generally speaking, when a regular person out there turns their attention to cloud computing, it’s usually through some special service (or site) that they want to take advantage of. There are so many sites / services springing up everywhere which make use of cloud-based technologies; from storage and email, to social media distribution and access, the cloud is driving virtually everything these days.
Perhaps the biggest shortfall in understanding has to do with the relationship between cloud computing and modern IT. To say that cloud computing is (and will continue) having and effect on IT is a bit of an understatement. In truth, the basic approach to IT is morphing into something else entirely, thanks to the cloud. Old rules and limitations are quickly melting away as new cloud-based capabilities continue to emerge on an almost daily basis.
A great example of this innovation is IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service). IaaS allows IT departments and firms to carry out their duties in nearly the same fashion as they are currently used to. The main benefits of IaaS include the ability to leverage the power of private cloud computing while retaining a greater deal of direct control over the service infrastructure. However, what really creates value (in IaaS) is the fact that providers are still tasked with managing and paying for all physical hardware/software updates and issues.
For many businesses, it simply isn’t possible to establish comparable IT systems using only their available budgetary means, and aside from initial costs there are annual / semi-annual upgrade expenditures to contend with as well. Basically, IaaS is akin to outsourcing the hardware buildup and upkeep aspect of an operation; you’re paying for access to someone else’s resources and still get to design and manage the inner workings of the infrastructure itself. *On a side note, businesses and IT professionals that are seeking to delve into IaaS need to strongly consider both standard cloud computing certification as well as IaaS-specific training.
Getting back to how the average person views and uses cloud computing, there is still a great need for increased cloud education (across the globe). People just aren’t grasping how cloud computing benefits us collectively. Arguably, the two biggest perks of the cloud are its:
- Effect on overall energy savings
- Ability to deliver cheap access to very extensive processing abilities
In other words, cloud computing is extremely budget-friendly from the perspective of businesses yet is also good for the environment. How is it good for the environment exactly, you might be wondering? Let’s think about traditional “waterfall” IT for a moment. As you are already aware, this older model relies on an interconnected series of self-contained machines which are often left powered on (all hours of the day and night). Well, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that if you have dozens (or hundreds / thousands) of machines that are sucking electricity from the grid and aren’t actually performing any work, you’re wasting finances. Likewise, all of this wasted electricity isn’t doing anything good for the environment either. Through cloud computing, it is possible to more accurately pinpoint and direct energy usage; if everyone were to take this approach, just imagine the collective energy we’d save from being wasted.
The other big benefit of the cloud has to do with its actual abilities in terms of processing power. Simply put, there is an almost ridiculous amount of power inherent in cloud computing. Currently, research institutes which routinely process, store and analyze mega-sized (multiple terabytes and beyond) units of data use cloud computing. Why? Because a dedicated cloud is more or less the only thing out there that’s powerful enough to actually perform the duties and calculations required; likewise, it’s one of the most affordable solutions on the market as well. In this manner, cloud computing is actually helping to push higher levels of scientific research forward further than anyone could imagine (just look at NASA and its’ recent use of cloud computing in the ongoing Curiosity mission, for example).