With the rapid development of processing and storage technologies and the success of the Internet, computing resources have become cheaper, more powerful and more ubiquitously available than ever before. This technological trend has enabled the realization of a new computing model called cloud computing, in which resources(e.g., CPU and storage) are provided as general utilities that can be leased and released by users through the Internet in an on-demand fashion. Cloud computing has become a popular way of providing services over the Internet. It’s no exaggeration to say that cloud computing has become an indispensable part of our lives. For example, we use mobile phones to access the Internet, shopping, online payment transactions, etc., which are all realized through cloud computing. In order to understand what is cloud computing, we mainly encapsulate the fundamentals of cloud computing in this paper, which can help you understand cloud computing comprehensively.
Overview of cloud computing
Cloud is a virtual location on the internet where resources of information systems can be stored. Those resources include database, computing power, internet servers, and all other hardware and software. The thing it virtualizes the most is the hard drive because it acts as the origin of all of its files and does not depend on any particular device.
Cloud computing is the use of electronic devices to access clouds for required resources. In other words, the device acts solely as an access tool instead of a storage space and users of the device do not need to manage these resources actively.
we can define the type of cloud computing from two aspects: service models and deployment models.
Deployment models include public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud. The public cloud is one that is available to the general public, which means everyone has access to it. The private cloud can only be accessed by dedicated users who have authorization. The hybrid cloud consists of functions provided by both the private cloud and the public cloud.
Providers of cloud computing usually offer clients three different services(that is why this kind of categorization be called service models): IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. IaaS is the abbreviation of “Infrastructure as a Service”, through which hardware and large equipment, like virtual machines and servers, can be accessed by clients. PaaS is the short name of “Platform as a Service”, whose providers offer platforms like operating systems including all services of infrastructures to customers. SaaS refers to “Software as a Service”, which provides more on-demanding services like database and applications including all services of a platform to users. Besides, currently there exist new and more convenient services like “Mobile backend as a service”, “Function as a service”, etc. We believe that there will be much more easy and powerful services in the future.
Responsible by the developer
Responsible by the Cloud
Self-built data center
Hardware & machine
Room & electricity
Figure 1: The difference between self-built data center, IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS
The key advantages of cloud computing
Cloud computing offers the following key advantages:
Cost reduction By using cloud infrastructure, you don’t have to spend huge amounts of money on purchasing and maintaining equipment. You do not have to invest in hardware, facilities, utilities, or building out a large data center to grow your business.
Scalability Cloud computing is the delivery of on-demand computing services over the internet on a pay-as-you-go basis. Namely, you can buy the corresponding service regarding what you need. If your business demands increase, you can easily increase your cloud capacity without having to invest in physical infrastructure.
Mobility Cloud computing allows mobile access to corporate data via smartphones and devices. So users can get access to their works on-the-go, 24/7, via any devices, in any corner of the world as long as you stay connected to the Internet.
The perspectives from stakeholders
From an IT perspective, cloud computing is totally a breakthrough in this industry and help many ITers save time and improve efficiency. To IT administrators, they can use IaaS as mentioned above instead of building new infrastructure. PaaS can provide software developers with reliable software systems so they do not need to install them every time. For end customers, SaaS help them reduce cost in developing new applications and constructing a new database. Currently, there are increasing cloud computing providers emerging in the market, including AWS, Azure, IBM Cloud, VMware, Google Cloud, DigitalOcean, etc. Almost every big IT company have their own cloud computing products, which indicates drastic competition in the market and indeed brings more convenience and choices to us.
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From a business perspective, cloud computing can help companies save time and money to use services provided instead of building a new IT infrastructure or developing a new system. Besides, cloud computing guarantees the security of data resources of most companies, compared to store these resources in a local building or facility. Furthermore, cloud computing means not being limited to the office. If an employee is working on a major project that is saved to a cloud, he or she can work on it and update it at literally anytime regardless of his or her location. Whenever the progress on the project gets saved to the drive, everybody with access can see the changes that were made.
Now Martinex, a furniture manufacturer who wants to set up an on-premise IT infrastructure, which may include facilities, computers, servers, routers, gateways, and various types of software. It is not hard to imagine how high the cost would be. If the business goes up and there are more and more customers, they need larger servers and more computers, maybe even larger facilities, more expensive software, and higher frequency maintenance. The IT department of Martinex asks us for some practical advice relating to their plan. They are seeking a more efficient way to reduce the cost as much as they could because they know the infrastructure will definitely result in a huge waste.
That is why we need cloud computing, so we can use what we pay for and even have higher security. We advise them about how a cloud service might help them. They want to know about what it entails from them as well, how it would improve daily operations, and the barriers it would eliminate. We suggest them using Amazon Website Service, the most common products in the market providing IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, to help this company to build its IT infrastructure.
Cloud computing adoption is on the rise every year, especially in smaller firms that may not have enough money to build their own data centers. On the other hand, resources in the cloud can be easily stored, retrieved, recovered, or processed with just a couple of clicks. So users can know a lot of the latest information and do their works by software in their smartphones or computers, such as Facebook and Microsoft. Despite there are some challenges and issues of Cloud computing, like relatively low data security compared to self-build data center(e.g., Capital One data breach), I believe with the development of Cloud computing technology, these issues will be overcome in the future, and Cloud computing will help us save more time and money and make our life more convenient and efficient. Maybe in the future, we only need to provide a few functions or our own needs to automatically customize the software or service we want.
 Qi Zhang, Lu Cheng, Raouf Boutaba, Cloud computing: state-of-art and research challenges, 20 April 2010.
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