If you’re at all familiar with the current trends of the online realm, then I’m
sure you’ve heard of cloud computing. Today we examine this technology.
We also examine whether or not cloud computing is the best solution for
What is cloud computing?
The simplest way to define cloud computing is to think of a program or application that can run on several machines simultaneously via a server connected to a network. The users of said cloud computing services all have access to the same server. These users may employ its processing power for apps, data storage, or just about any other computing need. The term of choice nowadays is ‘cloud computing.’ However, the more technical (and accurate) term is ‘distributed computing’ since the distribution of either storage space and/or processing power is what’s at stake in such a process.
What’s the background of cloud computing?
The history of cloud computing goes back further in time than you may think. More specifically, the idea began in the 1950s. Much like the invention of the Internet, cloud computing has to do with major corporations and universities using mainframe computers to place information at the disposal of clients via several terminals. The practice became known as time-sharing. IBM, GE, Tymshare, and several other companies popularized this practice during the 1960s to the 1990s. The ‘90s marked a significant development with the apparition of VPNs. With VPNs, scientists of information technology explored ways to bring massive computing power to regular users. With the advent of the 2000s and the prevalence of the Internet, Amazon upgraded their data centers and put in sustained efforts to bring cloud computing services to their customers. Eucalyptus (open-source) and OpenNebula (funded via the European Commission) were some of the first initiatives for private cloud systems. IBM’s SmartCloud and Oracle’s Oracle Cloud are currently in development as efforts to provide private users better cloud access.
What are the main advantages of cloud computing?
The history of cloud computing, as it were, is still being written. However, the advantages to using this technology are apparent even its relatively early stage. For one thing, as with all other utility grids, this kind of system optimizes the use of existing infrastructure. It puts shared resources to better use by sharing them between several users. More importantly, it also takes demand into account when allocating (or reallocating) said resources. Aside from this, it enables corporate users to move away from the traditional CAPEX model to OPEX – in other words, cloud computing allows corporate users to invest less into hardware and infrastructure.
What about its disadvantages?
That being said, a corporate or agency run server may not always be best suited by operating on cloud computing. Though 56 per cent of all the major decision makers in the field of technology in Europe have named cloud computing as their priority for 2014, there are still several cloud computing disadvantages worth bearing in mind when deciding how to run a server. Here are some of the most common disadvantages to bear in mind, should you consider using a hosted server:
- Reliability and availability . The cloud is based on the very concept of sharing. By and large, sharing tends to lower servers costs. It also brings up several problems inherent to shared infrastructures. To put it simply, if you happen to share a hosted server with a demanding ‘neighbor,’ you might find yourself dealing with the “noisy neighbor effect.” You can experience cache contamination, or see the performance of your cloud resources fluctuate depending on how other users employ these resources.
- Complexity. The cloud is definitely a complex field. This complexity is apparent in the fact that, for the time being, most providers offer SaaS/IaaS services (software and infrastructure as a service, respectively) while PaaS (platform as a service) and the public cloud still take a back seat.
- Legal issues. There’s a lot to discuss in this respect: for one thing, a perceived lack of standards exists across the field of cloud computing. For another, the legislation in cloud matters differs widely from Europe to the United States (and other territories). Last, but not least, the issue of vendor lock-in is still very much present in this field, (as in any other emerging industry). With time, perhaps these problems will be assuaged. Some notable voices such as Richard Stallman, the initiator of the GNU project, and Larry Ellison, one of the founders of Oracle, have been critical of the concept. They found it fitting to deem it a passing fad.
How secure is cloud computing?
While there are many advantages for a modern server to be stored in a mobile, software based server (or server emulation), one cannot sidetrack the issue of cloud computing security. In fact, many experts believe that the issue of security is the biggest deterrent to the wide-scale adoption of cloud computing. In brief, traditional security models present some limitations when it comes to shared mainframes. They are currently being reconsidered in order to fit the cloud-based model better. Consider how comfortable you would feel with storing sensitive data on an off-site mainframe computer. Nowadays, most cloud computing experts recommend having the machines on-site. Having your machines on-site allows you to visually inspect the data links and access ports. The main security risks with cloud computing are numerous – they include access to sensitive data, data segregation, issues of data privacy, the threat of malicious software, the security of management consoles, issues of control over accounts, as well as accountability, reliability, and the data recovery possibilities.
My name is Andrew Buckmaster. I am a site manager for a marketing and business consultation firm. I may be a relative newcomer to the blog scene, but I have been writing and editing for years. Recently, I graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a bachelor of arts in English. Following graduation, I worked for a publishing company where I edited manuscripts. I currently live in Lancaster, PA with my wife and dog. I also run a blog called http://www.burnworld.com/ My site specializes in blu-ray/dvd burning, memory backup, and general technology. When I’m not blogging or working, I enjoy producing electronic music and hanging out with friends.