What is Cloud Computing? Cloud Computing often referred to as “the cloud”, in simple terms means storing or accessing your data and programs over the internet rather than your own hard drive.
Everything nowadays is moved to the cloud, running in the cloud, accessed from the cloud or may be stored in the cloud.
Where exactly is this cloud?
So to answer this question in this what is cloud computing blog, it is somewhere at the other end of your internet connection where you store your files and can be accessed from anywhere in the world. This could be a big deal for you, primarily because of three reasons:
- You do not have to maintain or administer any infrastructure for the same.
- It will never run out of capacity, since it is virtually infinite.
- You can access your cloud based applications from anywhere, you just need a device which can connect to the internet.
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How it all began?
Though internet was born in 1960s, it was only in 1990s when the potential of internet to serve business was discovered, which then led to more innovation in this field. As the transfer speeds of the internet and connectivity got better it gave way to new type of companies called Application Service Providers (ASPs).
ASPs took the existing business applications and ran them for the business using their own machines. The customers would pay a monthly fee to run their business over the internet from ASP’s systems.
But it was only in the late 1990s that the cloud computing as we know it today emerged and led to this blog on what is cloud computing.
And since it has only grown, recently businessinsider reported,
The cloud computing service has grown nearly 80% year-over-year in the last two quarters, and is on pace to hit $7.8 billion in revenue in 2015, four times the 2012 sales of $1.8 billion.
Intriguing ain’t it?
Now that you have a fair idea, what cloud is, just think about all your daily activities online, and you will realize that a lot of your work that you do online is based on cloud. Like your social media interactions are all on the cloud, anything that you store online, is again cloud, you paying your electricity bills online, online shopping, everything!
Now how does it all work, let’s understand it through an example:
So, there is this application called the Customer Relation Manager (CRM) which is based on the cloud. This software is highly used in all the Sales organisations for better agility, enhanced productivity and low costs.
The way it is used is like this; a field sales representative would need an access to a mobile device which is connected to the internet and then he can retrieve the customer information irrespective of his location. Also, he can update the information on the go therefore no need of going back to the office to update the deal information.
The sales managers can also monitor everything on their internet enabled devices, and will know which deals to close or not. It all happens on the go!
The best part? You don’t have to buy any machines or administer any kind of software, it all will be handled by the cloud company which is running this application. Cool right?
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Let’s go ahead and take a deep dive into “what is cloud computing” and understand its architecture:
Now when you ask what is Cloud Computing the answer would be in a very broad sense therefore, the services it offers has been divided into three different models, let’s discuss each one of them:
SaaS(Software As a Service)
In this service the Cloud Provider leases applications or softwares which are owned by them to its client. The client can access these softwares on any device which is connected to the Internet using tools such as a web browser, an app etc.
For Example: salesforce.com provides the CRM(Customer Relation Manager) on a cloud infrastructure to its client and charges them for it, but the software is owned by the salesforce company only.
PaaS(Platform as a Service)
In this service the Cloud Provider gives the ability to the customer to deploy customer created application using programming languages, tools etc that are provided by the Cloud Provider. The customer cannot control the underlying architecture including operating systems, storage, servers etc.
For Example: This service would make sense to you only if you are a developer, since this service provides you a platform for developing applications, like Google App Engine.
IaaS(Infrastructure as a Service)
In this service the Cloud Provider provides the customer with virtual machines and other resources as a service, they abstract the user from the physical machine, location, data partitioning etc. If the user wants a Linux machine, he gets a linux machine, he will not worry about the physical machine or the networking of the system on which the OS is installed, simple.
For Example AWS(Amazon Web Services) is IaaS, like AWS EC2.
The diagram below, summarizes the differences b/w IaaS, PaaS and SaaS
We now know about the service models, once you offer a service next comes deployment, let us now discuss the deployment models:
- Public Cloud
- Private Cloud
- Hybrid Cloud
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In a public cloud deployment mode, the services which are deployed are open for public use and generally public cloud services are free. Technically there maybe no difference between a public cloud and a private cloud, but the security parameters are very different, since the public cloud is accessible by anyone there is a more risk factor involved with the same.
A private cloud is operated solely for a single organization, it can be done by the same organization or a third-party organization. But usually the costs are high when you are using your own cloud since the hardware would be updated periodically, security also has to be kept in check since new threats come up every day.
A hybrid cloud consists the functionalities of both private and public cloud. How?
Let’s understand it through an example: Suppose there is a research company, so they would have some published data and also, data which would still be in research phase. Now any thing which is still in research should be kept confidential right? Though your cloud provider may have state of the art security features but then it is still open to public, therefore prone to cyber attacks.
So to address this risk, you can keep the data still being worked on, in your company’s servers whose access is controlled by the company, and your published data on the public platform, this type of arrangement would be a hybrid cloud.
I think by now you must have a fair idea about what is cloud computing. Let’s go ahead and know the target audience of the cloud, that is YOU, now you can either be looking at the cloud as an individual or a business, let’s take an insight into both the perspectives.
Consumers v/s Business
Let’s talk about consumers here, those of us who work in small to medium offices, use internet on a regular basis, for us cloud would be say Google Drive or maybe DropBox.
But, for organisations and businesses, it is an entirely different scene, for them cloud is SaaS where they might want to use a software on the cloud, or maybe PaaS where they might want to build an app on an environment which is provided by the cloud environment or maybe they want to avail the cloud service as an Infrastructure where in they will rent out entire VMs and configure it their own way, which will be IaaS.
Now you maybe wondering, do companies really use Cloud Computing? Of Course they do, according to a popular blogging site PCMag cloud computing generated 127 billion dollars in 2016, and by 2020 it could be 500 billion dollars.
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Pretty impressive ain’t it? Now why are people or businesses moving to cloud? There should be some advantages right?
Let’s go ahead and see what advantages does Cloud Computing serve:
- Fast Implementation
If you’ve been there for a development or implementation of an application, it takes sometimes months or even years to make the application up and running, with cloud you can cut through the time and make things faster.
- Instant Scalability
With cloud resources you can always scale up or scale down the no. of resources and users according to your need, the cloud capacity never runs out!
- Access Anywhere
Applications built on cloud are designed to be accessed from anywhere, you just need an internet connection on a mobile device.
- No Upfront Costs
Earlier to deploy an application you had to purchase the necessary hardware, build the architecture, purchase software licenses etc, but with cloud all those costs are dramatically reduced and in some cases eliminated.
- Maintenance Free
Traditionally you would have to patch your software with the latest releases, upgrade your hardware and also troubleshoot faults in your system at the hardware level, but with cloud you don’t have to worry about the maintenance of your hardware, it will all be managed by your cloud provider.
- Better Security
An Independent study found that yearly a medium scale company loses around 260 laptops, this is a loss to the company not in monetary terms, but the data that was there on the laptop is valuable, with Cloud you don’t have to worry about that, all your data is stored in a centralized secure location.
Now, how do you get started?
There are tons of cloud providers out there to choose from. Let us take the most prominent ones.
- Azure: It’s a cloud computing platform by Microsoft founded in 2010.
- AWS: Amazon Web Services is a cloud computing platform by Amazon in 2006.
Which one will you choose?
A question which would have crossed your mind, the moment you saw the two names.
Well let’s try to address this question for you.
AWS and Microsoft Azure are two major players in the cloud computing industry, but still AWS is bigger than Azure. How much bigger?
Well, the server capacity of AWS is 6 times the size than all of its competitors server size combined.
Also AWS started its cloud journey way back in 2006 compared to Microsoft Azure which was launched in 2010, thus in terms of service, AWS’s service model is more mature. Amazon owns the largest data centers in the world, which are strategically placed all around the globe.
When we see Azure, it is nowhere near the capacity that Amazon has, but then Microsoft has been working hard to achieve the kind of services and flexibility that Amazon offers. For example in 2014, Microsoft launched redundant storage option called Zone Redundant Storage which is at par with the services that Amazon offers.
Let’s talk about a more important parameter like Pricing.
Amazon bills you for the hour, meaning the no. of hours you will be using your instances, the downside of this can be that if you stop your instance say after 2.5 hours, you will be billed for the whole 3 hours.
For this, Azure has a different scheme which may appeal customers, they bill you on minutes, that is the number of minutes you use your instance, but when you compare AWS and Azure prices in hours AWS is cheaper.
For example: an AWS m3.large instance is 0.133$ for an hour, and the equivalent instance in Azure (a Medium VM) costs 0.45$ for an hour.
Concluding here, Amazon emerges as a winner!
So now look at it this way, if you want to make a career shift in the cloud computing industry, which service is more likely to be in demand, AWS right?
Let’s see what Analytics has to say,
Fig. This graph shows job postings for a AWS Solution Architect from Indeed.com
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To become a Solution Architect you will need extensive knowledge and hands-on exposure with AWS services. You can read about the AWS Services from this Amazon AWS Tutorial.
What next, after you know all of these services and of-course what is cloud computing?
You get yourself certified! Here is a detailed guide on various certifications that you can do in AWS.
Don’t worry hostingmamma! is here to help you with every step on your journey, for becoming a AWS Solution Architect you have to clear an exam, therefore besides this blog on what is cloud computing, we have come up with a curriculum which covers exactly what you would need to crack it! You can have a look here at the course details for AWS training.
So this was about your career, now let’s come back to what is Cloud Computing, we discussed almost everything about Cloud Computing, but then let’s be honest, and understand that nothing in this world is all good. A lot has been said about Cloud Computing, good and bad. We covered almost all the good parts.
Let’s hear some interesting arguments about Cloud Computing.
Some people say moving your business completely to cloud may not be a good idea. Well, it kind of makes sense, because what if your Cloud Provider experiences a downtime, in that case your business will also suffer a loss.
This actually happened with our very own AWS in 2012 when there was a power outage due to an electrical storm in Northern Virginia due to which Amazon servers experienced a downtime, because of that big companies like Instagram, Pinterest and Instagram also experienced a downtime because they host their services on AWS.
Another argument which often comes up when we talk about Cloud Computing is this, who owns the data on cloud?
Is it yours or the company who is hosting your data? Some may say that the data that you are putting on cloud is yours, but what about the data which is generated using their tools, who owns it?
So these things are a risk when you are moving to the cloud, but when we compare these cons to the pros, they kind of weigh more, so that’s why there is a major shift onto the cloud.
Is it right or wrong, only time will tell.
I hope you enjoyed this What is Cloud Computing Tutorial.
Like we said, if you are planning for a move into the Cloud Computing industry, and specially into AWS, we provide training for the same, here’s a collection of AWS Architect interview questions to help you prepare for your next AWS job interview.