OPINION: Cloud Computing – Time To Get In

Dean, School of Science and Technology,  University of Fiji   Finance becomes a major issue, especially for small and medium scale business owners alike when it comes to purchasing, deploying
19 Sep 2015 04:33
OPINION: Cloud Computing  – Time To Get In

Dean, School of Science and Technology,  University of Fiji


Finance becomes a major issue, especially for small and medium scale business owners alike when it comes to purchasing, deploying and maintaining an IT infrastructure, take for instance the software, server and data storage.

The biggest challenge is that the IT infrastructure changes rapidly. The change is so rapid that many small and medium scale business owners are left with the question – where is the money to upgrade the existing IT infrastructure? Not only upgrade, the organisation also needs to train the administrator or recruit new staff. Therefore, the ICT industry has brought a solution to our modern society, the ‘pay-as-you-go’ subscription model.

Designed to let small and medium scale business owners easily add or remove services, this model typically only asks to pay for what you use. The ICT synonym of ‘pay-as-you-go’ is called Cloud Computing.


Cloud Computing

Cloud computing has been evolving through time and now there is a lot of speculation about it. When this term comes up end-users tend to look up to the sky without even a clue of what it actually is. So in simple terms what is Cloud computing?  The word Cloud (also phrased as ‘the Cloud’) is used as a metaphor for ‘the Internet’.

The phrase cloud computing means ‘a type of internet-based computing’. We may say it is an advanced version of grid computing, a type of computing where unused processing cycles of all computers in a network are harnessed to solve problems which are too intensive for any stand-alone machine. Cloud computing is simply an internet-based utility technology which allows end-users to share resources, software and information which is run on virtual servers.

Moreover, any user who is connected to a network is technically using cloud without even knowing it.

Moving on, users have come to know about the term cloud computing through recent years, however, the concept of cloud computing has been around for quite some time now.  The idea of an intergalactic computer network was introduced in the sixties by J.C.R Licklider, who was responsible for enabling the development of ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) in 1969.

Cloud Computing has since evolved through a number of phases including: Grid and Utility Computing, Application Service Providers (ASP), Software as a Service (SaaS) and now Cloud Computing. So why is it named Cloud? There’s a simple answer to that – before cloud evolved, diagrams of Clouds were used to represent the Internet in Information Technology networks and infrastructure designs. Applications and data were hosted in cloud which made it easier to access them from anywhere around the world giving you Cloud-based Computing, or Cloud Computing.


Cloud Products

Furthermore, as mentioned above everyone uses cloud constantly without even realising it. For example, end-users usually browse the internet to listen to music, watch videos, check their emails and use social networking sites which is all cloud based.

A common example of cloud computing is Gmail, where you can access your stored data from any computer using internet. Gmail users can now attach files up to 10GB in size by selecting them from the Google Drive cloud storage service.

The total number of Gmail users worldwide is over 600 million now. Perhaps the most famous use of cloud computing, which does not strike people as “cloud computing” at first glance is social networking, including Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, Instagram and many others. The growth of Facebook user is remarkable as shown in below.


The growth trend of Facebook users

The main idea of social networking is to find people you already know or people you would like to know and share your content with them. Of course, when you share your information with these people, you’re also sharing it with the people who run the service. The 2014 USA survey found 89 per cent of all recruiters report having hired someone through LinkedIn.


Cloud Services

The images above show the three branches of services of cloud computing: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). SaaS is a distribution model that delivers software applications through the Internet; these are often called Web services.

Microsoft Office 365 is SaaS offering for productivity software and email services. End users can access SaaS applications and services from any location using a computer or mobile device; they just need internet access. PaaS provides host development tools on their infrastructure.

Users access those tools by the Internet using APIs, Web portals or gateway software. PaaS is used for general software development and many PaaS providers will host the software after it’s developed and finally an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) such as Amazon Web Services, who supply a virtual server instance and storage, as well as application programme interfaces that let users migrate workloads to a virtual machine.

Users have an allocated storage capacity and start, stop, access and configure the Virtual Machine and storage as desired. It provides a virtualised environment where the resources are shared through data centres under the control of the provider.

Major corporations including Amazon, Google, IBM, Sun, Cisco, Dell, HP, Intel, Novell, and Oracle have invested in cloud computing and offer individuals and businesses a range of cloud-based solutions. Someone may raise the question about security.

Almost all countries now have laws stating that a company that stores data for a user must notify its users if security is breached. Recently President Obama said: “With technological advancements like cloud computing, big data and 3D printing, the fact is, there has never been a better time to launch an idea and bring it to scale right here in the United States, right now.”

Finally, cloud computing can be said to be the new thing in the computing era. It has many benefits and is getting recognised by many people and organisations. Cloud computing is a major development in IT, it has the potential to make an increasingly significant contribution to economic activity throughout the world.

The goal of cloud computing is to apply traditional supercomputing, or high-performance computing power, basically used by military and research organisations only, to perform tens of trillions of computations within a second, in consumer-oriented applications such as financial portfolios, to deliver personalised information, to provide data storage or to power large, immersive online computer games. The move to cloud will not just help an organisation on its own but also improve technology. Forbes published this year that 42 per cent of IT decision makers are planning to increase spending on cloud computing in 2015 with the greatest growth in enterprises with over 1000 employees (52 per cent); Global SaaS software revenues are forecasted to reach $106B in 2016, increasing 21 per cent over projected 2015 spending levels; Enterprise cloud subscription revenues are forecast to reach $67B by 2018. It also helps on an individual level, 94 per cent of recruiters are active on LinkedIn. New graduates can sell themselves globally using cloud services.

Therefore, I would like to ask our industry community in Fiji to make the move and start using cloud-computing, it is not too late; motivate kids and youth not to just use Gmail, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter but to learn how it works and to propose a better cloud service to the global community.

Acknowledgement: Internet for text and images.


Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj


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