In this day and age, software as a service (SaaS)—the revolutionary model of software distribution—is the norm. Cloud computing fulfills the needs of fast-growing organizations, providing sustainability, expanded storage and publishing power to house and manage the ever-increasing volume of content.
Cloud computing, although similar to SaaS, is different and offers advantages and disadvantages to businesses. It relies on sharing computing resources instead of having local servers or personal devices to handle software applications. The word cloud resembles the Internet; hence, cloud computing means a type of Internet-based computing where services of all sorts—servers, storage and applications—are delivered to an organization’s computers and devices via the Internet.
Comparable to grid computing, cloud computing’s goal is to apply traditional supercomputing, or high-performance computing power to perform tens of trillions of computations per second to deliver personalized information, to provide data storage, or to power large, immersive computer games. In order to attain such a goal, cloud computing uses large groups of servers that typically run low-cost consumer PC technology with specialized connections to spread data processing chores across them. It also utilizes virtualization techniques to maximize the power of cloud computing.
SaaS delivers a single application through the browser to thousands of customers using a multitenant architecture. From the customer’s perspective, it means no upfront investment in servers or software licensing; from the provider’s perspective, with just one application to maintain, it costs lower than conventional hosting.
Some benefits involved in using cloud computing include:
Business clients will be able to access their applications and data anytime, anywhere. They can access the cloud computing system using any computer linked to the Internet. Data will not be confined to a hard drive on a single user’s computer system or a corporation’s internal network. Organizations will gain company-wide access to computer applications, and they will not have to buy a set of software or software licenses for every employee. They can just pay a subscription fee to a cloud computing company instead.
Cloud computing systems will reduce the need for advanced hardware on the client side. It will be unnecessary to buy the fastest computer with the maximum memory capacity because the cloud system will take care of those needs. There will be no need for a large hard drive, either, since all information will be stored on a remote computer. Also, streamlined hardware will have fewer problems than a network of heterogeneous machines and operating systems.
Cloud computing gives companies the option of storing data on hardware other than their own, which removes the need for physical space on the front end. Business clients can take advantage of the entire network’s processing power as well if the cloud computing system’s back end is a grid computing system. On a grid computing system, clients can send the calculation to the cloud for processing. The cloud system will tap into the processing power of all available computers on the back end, significantly speeding up the calculation.
Some biggest risks and concerns involved in using cloud computing include:
The idea of handing over critical data to another company worries some businesses. Corporate executives may hesitate to take advantage of a cloud computing system because they cannot keep their company’s information under lock and key or prevent key logging, one of the few standard hacker tricks. In addition, clients’ privacy can possibly be compromised if they can log in from any location to access data and applications.
Overall, cloud computing can go far in business operation if companies can employ the most advanced techniques to protect their clients’ data and have reliable security measures in place. Another way is to use authentication techniques (user names and passwords) or an authorization format—so that users may only access the data and applications relevant to their job—to keep unauthorized access at bay.
This article was written by Mildred D. Li, a writer for dusk magazine.