A Preface to Cloud Computing
If you are running a company, you need to ensure that all the personnel have access to necessary hardware and software. For this, not only are multiple computers necessary, but also software licenses to run in those computers. When you hire more employees and expand the company, you have to purchase even more licenses of the same set of software in order to incorporate the new users. This is a very inefficient way of using computers. Cloud computing technology provides the best solution to this. With this technology, you need to run only one web-based application that logs people into a web service under which you have access to cloud apps that can run virtually all kinds of services, from email management to complex data analysis.
Cloud computing technology reduces the load on the end user’s system dramatically. Most of the processing is done on the cloud network, and the end user needs to run only the interface application, which can be run from a mere web browser.
You have used cloud computing yourself. Web-based email applications, social networking, photo sharing, online photo editing, online document creation software, etc., are all examples of cloud computing. In these services, you do not run the application on your computer, but you access the application through your web browser and use it.
Architecture of Cloud Computing
The front end of the cloud computing system is what the user sees through a web browser. The back end, which is not visible to the users, does all the processing work. On the front end, the major program that runs is the web browser that displays the website or application interface for the cloud service. This application gives the end user all the tools and options just like a normal client-run application. For instance, if you are using Gmail, the front end is the Gmail interface on your browser with all the buttons and checkboxes.
On the back end, there are all the servers, content, communication devices, database, storage, identity information etc., that collaborate to do the job for all the clients that communicate with the cloud service. This back end has enormous processing power that can suffice millions of users. Yet, some amount of processing power remains unused.
Benefits of Cloud Computing
With the appropriate middleware (software used on cloud clients), you can run any application that a normal PC is able to run. This means, you can run a computer with all its capability through just a web browser. This is the concept incorporated into Google Chromebook, a laptop that runs just a browser. Chromebook is capable of running any application while connected to the internet. This is a type of thin client requiring very limited resources. Hence, the booting time of a Chromebook is less than ten seconds.
An important advantage of this type of computing is that the clients will be able to receive their data from anywhere as long as they have an internet connection. In addition, the hardware requirements would be very limited. All you need is a good display and processing power enough to run a web browser.
The storage required by client computers would be infinitesimal. They do not need to store any large files, and they can access any files at any time over the network.
Big corporations would benefit greatly in IT support. If they use cloud systems, they need to rectify issues at only one place and the entire network of client computers will work perfectly. In regular computing environment, simple issues on applications need to be rectified in each system, and it can be a very time consuming job.
Cloud computing system would take processing times to a new level. Even the most equipped computers would not be able to match the processing power of a cloud system. Additionally, with technologies like server virtualization, a limited number of cloud systems can work together to provide enormous processing power.
Important Concerns of Cloud Computing
Security is probably the biggest concern in a cloud-computing environment. As all the data resides in remote servers and should be accessed over the internet, you can imagine the importance of security. Unless you have very good security in place, it is not a good idea to send your files over to a cloud network. Also, the client computer you use to access the data should be well secured. A very good firewall and antivirus would ensure the security of data on the client system. On the server, however, you cannot be sure about the standard of security. Hence, the companies that provide cloud-computing services should ensure maximum data security to the clients.
Privacy concerns also exist in cloud computing. Although the company would provide authentication for using the data stored in the cloud, the accessibility from anywhere in the web concerns most end users. The companies must provide adequate means to ensure data privacy.
Cloud computing could be considered as the next most important aspect of computing. This technology is still in the developing stage. However, many companies in their work environment have implemented cloud-computing systems that work impressively. Most of the internal mail applications, database applications, etc., are based on cloud computing model. More and more development in this technology could result in very tiny, yet very capable client computers.