Cloud Computing: Crucial Aspects

Abstract

This is a paper which discusses cloud computing in detail. Cloud computing has been a new term which is commonly used today to refer to anything that revolves the deliverance of a number of services through the use of the internet. The paper begins with an introduction which acquaints the reader with cloud computing. There is a brief analysis of the three categories of cloud computing. This is followed by the major characteristics of cloud computing together with the past historical developments which have led to the current computing. The paper also gives a brief analysis of some of the important features with cloud computing, and then a number of issues that have been facing cloud computing today. This brings to a conclusion which gives the approach into which the future should be addressed with cloud computing.

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Introduction

The invention of computers brought the greatest achievement to mankind hence leading to more advancements and technologies. This has been coupled with internet invention which has seen a lot of technological breakthroughs. For instance, cloud computing is one of the new technological applications that have come as a result. This is a general term commonly used or applied on anything that revolves around delivering a number of hosted services through the internet. Because of the complexity with these services, there have been three broad divisions of cloud computing. These categories are; Infrastructure-as-a-Service, abbreviated as IaaS, Software-as-a-Service, SaaS, and Platform-as-a-Service, abbreviated as PaaS. The term cloud computing is an inspiration of a cloud symboling which can systematically represent how different internet connection can be represented in flow diagram or chart (Wanbil, 2010). The cloud computing has three aspects giving it differences with traditional-oriented hosting. For one, cloud service is something that is only sold once there is demand, and this can typically be after a minute or even after an hour. This means that it is purely elastic and a certain user would be in a position of having the quantity of services required at a specific time. Cloud computing services would be fully pioneered and managed by a service provider. The consumer will therefore be needed to have only internet access and a personal computer.

The major factors that have been accelerating this kind of computing and its relative interest is due to a number of significant human innovations which have increased virtualization as well as distributed computing, there have been an overall improvement in access towards high-speed connections on internet, and a growing overall weaker economy. Another important thing to be noted is that cloud would be public or private owned. In that case, the public cloud would be selling their services to all the willing customers using the internet. A good example today is the Amazon Web Services, AWS, which is currently the largest cloud provider to the public. On the other hand, a private cloud would be a proprietary kind of network or some data center capable of supplying hosted services, but to a limited group or number of individuals. Once a given service provider has used the public resources in an attempt of creating his own private cloud, what is created is what shall be referred to as a virtual cloud, virtual private (Velte & Elsenpeter, 2009). Whether a public or a private cloud, the major goal and objective of cloud computing has been in the provision of a scalable, and easy access to Information Technology services and computing resources.

It should not be confused why this kind of computing has been given the term cloud computing. The word cloud for the term has been used in the same manner metaphors are used in literature and poetry and is used metaphorically for internet connections. The use of the word has been based on the manner in which clouds have been drawn as a representation of telephone network over the past years. This has seen internet connections depicted in a similar way through the use of cloud diagrams. The cloud computing service providers are obliged to deliver the commonplace applications for business online and these applications can be easily accessed by an individual elsewhere through the use of a web-browser. There should also be the integration of data and stable software which has to be stored by a number of server-points. Therefore, Cloud computing will be defined as a computing procedure which is based on internet use and application. In this kind of computing, a number of shared resources, information and the relevant software would be provided in a number of computers and on other devices whenever demanded as an overall public utility (Velte & Elsenpeter, 2009). Today, most of the infrastructures on cloud computing have been consisting of a number of reliable services that will be delivered via on-built servers and data centers. Any kind of commercial offerings shall be required to meet all the QoS, quality of service for all the clients who the services are being delivered to.

A Description of the Three Categories of Cloud Computing

As we have seen earlier, cloud computing has been given three broad categories. The first one is the Infrastructure-as-a-Service, IaaS, which has been in use for the public domains as it is the case with Amazon Web Services, AWS which has been providing virtual server services and instances through the uniquely adoption of storage blocks and IP addresses depending on the demand. Customers of the service shall then use the application program that has been availed by the provider as an interface (Velte & Elsenpeter, 2009). With this kind of enterprise, it has been a common occurrence that cloud computing shall allow any given company to be in a position of paying for the capacity of service it needs, and should more services be required, it shall bring them online once the need arises. Due to this kind of performance, it shall be noted that it acts in a way such that one would only be expected to pay for only what he or she has consumed. These acts in a similar manner as people pay for their water, gas, and electricity bills. Due to this kind of payment, the service has more often than not been given the term Utility Computing.

The second category with cloud computing is what is known as Platform-as-a-Service, PaaS. This has been seen or defined as a combined software-set and a complex product development which has tools hosted on a given infrastructure of a specific provider. The developers would be expected to create applications which would then be availed within the platform of the provider through the Internet. The PaaS providers have sometimes been using APIs, gate-way software or website portals that will be installed on the computers of the customers. Some of the common examples which have been using the PaaS include Force.com, which is a small branch of the famous Salesforce.com, and the GoogleApps. Developers of late have realized that currently, the globe has not been able to come up with universal standards that govern the interoperability or the portability of data within the cloud. However, it should be noted that a number of providers might not allow any kind of software that has been created or developed by any of their customers to be moved into their platform (Rittinghouse, 2009).

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The other category is the Software-as-a-Service, SaaS, which is itself another classical cloud model. Just to mention, SaaS would be seen to be a broad market as the majority of specialists have been suggesting. Due to the fact that the provider of the service will host the data and the application, the end result is that the eventual end user will be in a position of using the service wherever he or she might be.

Characteristics of Cloud Computing

In order to understand the underlying fundamentality of cloud computing, we should try to give it a technical definition. This will see us defining it as a form of capability with computing which can provide a total abstraction between the underlying resources, architecture and the resources for computing. The technical architecture of cloud computing includes the storage, the available servers and the network connections (Brian & Franklin, 2009). This architectural connectivity will be effective in maintaining convenience since there will be minimal need for management and little interactions among service providers. From this kind of technical definition for cloud computing, we shall see that the clouds will have a number of characteristics that are essential: the first one is an on-demand service which is purely self-service, a broad access to internet network connection, pooling of resources, rapid elasticity of the connection, and a service that is measurable. In general terms, all the customers for cloud computing will not be required to own any of the physical infrastructures and instead this avoids a little expenses on capital (Rittinghouse, 2009).

The consumer will only consume the resources only as a service provided to him or her and hence will end up paying for that particular service and the resources he or she has consumed. Majority of the cloud-computing operations and offerings have been employing computing utility models which are quite analogous and performed as the traditional service-utilities such as water and electricity bills. Due to this quality characteristic in which intangible and perishable resources are used and shared with cloud computing, a number of individuals can successfully combine and share their computing power so that they can be able to improve their utilization rates (Menken, 2008). This means that the servers will not be left idle, the costs of operation shall be reduced significantly, and in the long run increase application development speed. As another important characteristic, there is as well a side-effect which arises from the approach. This is because with time, there will be an overall proliferation of computers since customers have machines which do not have to be engineered. The issue of insecurity has also been seen to be a barrier towards the future of cloud computing.

Historical Developments of Cloud Computing

Each and every kind of technology used by man today has its own history. With cloud computing, its underlying idea and concept can be traced back to the 1960s or even earlier before then. This was when McCarthy John stated that one day the simple computation known to man might end up being organized in a competent manner which would create a public utility. Due to this kind of assertion, the current computing has borrowed much from the old characteristics that can be seen with the old service bureaus. There had been no much developments towards cloud computing since it took a long time before computers could find their way into the life of man. However, the same strategies had been applied by the telecommunications industry in which models existed for information and overall communication (Velte & Elsenpeter, 2009).

In the 1990s, the telecommunication companies came up with packages that offered some point-to-point dedicated data circuits as a way of reducing costs. This would eventually result in a Virtual Private Network, VPN, through which comparable services were offered although at a much reduced costs. After switching the traffic in order to balance the utilization of the service, it was noted that it would be easy to utilise bandwidth of the network in a more effective way. Due to this kind of invention, the symbol of the cloud was then used in denoting the areas of demarcation and showing how different clients were being linked to different servers. It is from this kind of structure that cloud computing has borrowed in covering the servers, the consumers and the infrastructure of the network connection (Rittinghouse, 2009).

Today, Amazon is the company that played the greatest role towards the development and establishment of the present day cloud computing. The company did this through adequate modernizing of all the data centers it was operating with immediately after what was referred to as the ‘dotcom bubble.’ Before then, most of the computer connectivity had only been consuming as little as ten per cent of the total capacity so that room could be created for the spikes that occurred frequently. After the promising realization that the already adopted new cloud design and architecture would result in a significantly internal effectiveness and efficiency in improving the company’s operations, there was the plan of improving the architecture and add new features and resources hence improving the overall performance. This had been realized before the end of 2005 which formed the original basis for the current cloud computing which has been used in very many places in the world. Two years later, IBM, Google and other colleges and universities in the United States came up with greater architectural arrangements which would end up increasing the cloud computing applications in world through adoption of research. In the year 2008, it was seen that there was a very huge opportunity with this kind of computing towards shaping the existing relationships between any IT services providers and its consumers. This provided light in seeing organizations switch from the old company hardware use towards software assets which would be consumed and paid for online. This led to a greater shift towards modern day cloud computing (Velte & Elsenpeter, 2009). As a result, today there has been a dramatic change and growth in the Information Technology world and its accompanying products.

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Important Features and Elements of Cloud Computing

Having acquainted ourselves with the major characteristics, the categories, and the historical developments of cloud computing, it would be necessary that a brief information is given on the major key features and elements that revolve around cloud computing. The first important feature of cloud computing is what is known as agility. This makes cloud computing reliable and effective for majority of the people involved in its operations. As well, cloud computing will greatly reduce cost through a very big margin. This is achieved by the single fact that capital expenditure shall be converted to the expenditures on operations. This kind of approach results in reduced entry barriers since the infrastructure shall be provided by another third-party. This means that the individual will not have to purchase the equipments hence investing his money on other operations. As well, the issue of pricing which is done on the utility basis would be fine grained.

Another important feature of cloud computing is that it is present location independence for the devices used. This is due to the fact that users would be enabled to access the systems through the internet by using a web browser (Rittinghouse, 2009). This would be done regardless of the location in which they are, or depending on the kind of device being used. This means that information and service can be accessed from a personal computer or even a remote cell phone. Since the infrastructure is designed in an off-site manner, and services provided typically by another third-party, it makes it easy to access the services from any given location in the world. This has hence led to the effectiveness with cloud computing. The computing ideology also comes with what is known as multi tenancy by experts. This kind of tenancy sees a number of resources being availed across a large pool. The tenancy would create a centralization of the infrastructures such that they will be placed in locations where there are lower operational costs like with electricity and renting fee. At the same time, the load-peak is also increased and therefore the users shall not be in the need for engineers during high load-levels (Menken, 2008). This will also improve effectiveness and utilization efficiency.

Another most adorable feature with cloud computing is due to its reliability. Reliability with this kind of computing has been known to improve since there are increased redundancy sites. Nonetheless, it should be noted that a lot of the services provided with cloud computing might as well be affected once there is a disaster outage. The translation here is that business manager and IT specialists might realize that they can do very little at such occurrences. Cloud computing provides with it a good scalability due to its provision of a dynamic availing of resources whenever they are on demand. The self-service operational basis and the lack of physical engineers at load-peaks would improve performance. The performance would frequently be monitored through the integration of an interface which ensures all operations are done accordingly. Through the current application of paralleled data programming, any kind of performance downplays have been effectively dealt with, which is distributed on the grid containing the data (Brian & Franklin, 2009).

Also, security is another feature that comes with cloud computing. The security that is provided by this service delivery system can be maintained high due to the overall centralization of the data being used. Any action taken is always focused in meeting the security of the connection and focusing on the needs of the clients. However, the past two years have been seeing a number of individuals raising concerns that there can be increased issues of insecurity and tampering should some sensitive data find their way to the wrong recipient, or from unmanaged databases (Rittinghouse, 2009). Due to the concern, providers have always been devoted in ensuring that they employ all the resources at their disposal in solving any security-related issues since the majority of the clients and customers they serve might not be able to afford. What has been seen recently is that the security complexity has been on the increase as more and more sensitive data continues to be handled each and every day.

With cloud computing, it should be a system and a performance through which all the operations can be easily managed. In that connection, the maintenance of cloud computing and all the integral applications have been something easily done. The reason behind this is because the resources do not have to be installed on all computers used by individual customers. Cloud computing also ensures that the computers can be supported and improved so easily since any slight change that has been done on the system shall be implicated on the clients and other servers instantly. The other important key feature which the cloud computing operation brings with it is in its ease of metering (Brian & Franklin, 2009). Metering for cloud computing services-consumption and the resources utilized has been something easily measurable. The metering can be effectively done per every customer so that the right consumption can be easily detected either on daily, monthly, weekly, or even on annual periods. This kind of metering therefore enables the clients to be able to choose the cloud vendor who is cost effective and above all reliable. This is so because all people are after service quality which translates to the exact value for their coins.

Emerging Issues with Cloud Computing

As it is commonly known, any kind of human development, and especially within technology, shall have a number of accompanying issues which will be raised by man. So that human beings can be in a position of benefiting from the technology, all the emerging issues have to be addressed so as to create room for future performances. The first important issue that has been debated with cloud computing revolves around privacy. Over the past one decade, the continued use of the cloud model in computing has been facing a lot on criticisms. These have been voiced by a number of privacy advocates from different international companies. This has gone farther to incorporate issues of law in which it is alleged that the service providers might end up utilizing the acquired data inappropriately hence putting different individuals and companies into extreme danger (Rittinghouse, 2009).

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The issue of security and privacy is something vulnerable especially with cloud computing. This is because there have been incidences of social engineering and prolonged cyber crimes into which different individuals have been blackmailed hence loosing identity and even a number of assets. Privacy lawyers and advocates have been so greatly concerned and hence calling all the providers of these services to make sure that they adopt the necessary mechanisms and means which guarantees different individuals and consumers of the services the appropriate security and privacy they deserve. Vital information and data belonging to specific individuals and companies tend to be important and hence can be used maliciously against the owners of the data or information (Menken, 2008). The continued application and use of cloud computing increases the manner in which similar data and information is transmitted and therefore it would be necessary that measures are undertaken in making sure that no information is compromised for the overall sake of the clients and consumers of the services.

The other issue that has been raised is to do with compliance. So as to be in a position of obtaining a given compliance which is within the rightful regulations, which range from the HIPAA, the FISMA, the SOX in the United States, the DPD, Data Protection Device in the European Union, the users would be required to adopt a hybrid or community deployment types or modes. These modes would be noted to be very expensive and still will offer a number of restrictions on the projected benefits (Brian & Franklin, 2009). The compliance hence becomes complex hence making it hard for a number of people in different parts of the world to access these services hence having to fore-go all the presumed benefits. Another group of providers will also require obtaining different types of certifications which have been greatly criticized since majority of the information and standards are pre-determined and have never been disclosed to the clients.

The other issue that has been raised is purely on the legalities of the computing process. For example, in 2007 March, one of the leading global computer companies, Dell made an application for the trademark; Cloud Computing in their country of operation which is the United States. In the year 2008 July, Dell Company had its allowance notice which had been received earlier cancelled. This means that there are a number legal issues that have to be addressed if the world would be in a position of practicing intelligent cloud computing. The other serious agenda has revolved around open source of the computing. The open source and underlying standards can be very critical towards the overall growth of present cloud computing. The software has been seen to provide a dynamic foundation for a lot of cloud computing strategies and implementations (Menken, 2008). This means that the issue should be addressed immediately to do away with the current misunderstandings.

Security has also been another issue that needs to be addressed with cloud computing. The overall security with the cloud computing operations and services have over the last ten years been a thing raising a lot of contentions hence resulting in delayed adoption of the technology. The argument has been that the data and information belonging to the customers has not been managed and maintained in a secure manner (Brian & Franklin, 2009). This has also seen more individuals loosing trust with the operations arguing that no one can fully trust his information and data in the hands of providers whom he may not even be aware of. There has also been the question of sustainability. Although the continued application and use of cloud computing has more often than not been noted to be some kind of ‘green computing’ we still expect much information to be released to the public concerning this cloud computing so that individuals can be sure of its sustainability and future. In order for the globe to be headed in the right path towards global cloud computing, it would be necessary that all the above mentioned issues have been given address so that different possible consumers can be contented that they are engaged in the right operation which guarantees the necessary needs while maintaining the greatest level of integrity for all their data and information passed from the server and the client.

Conclusion

The world is today adopting new technology each and every other day. Experts say that the rate at which new inventions are being realized by man today is something that is happening at an exponential rate. Due to the technological developments, we shall see that a number of advantages have been realized which have led to faster human establishments and economic progressions through continued solving of problems facing man. Cloud computing is one of these growing technologies which have played a major role in changing the way businesses used to be operated some years ago (Francis, 2008). The world has been in dire need for information and technology so as to realize its goals and objectives within the shortest time possible. The need has been in ensuring that human capacity towards growth is increased without necessarily having to invest in physical infrastructures which might end up consuming a lot of money. Therefore, all strategies must be incorporated towards bringing cloud computing to its destined success and improve the rates at which our global economy is growing. All people should understand that the current cloud computing is just in its initial stages of development and growth and therefore all hurdles and issues faced should be competently addressed so that all the operations can be done in the right manner towards overall growth and economic development.

References

Brian, C. & Franklin, C. (2009). Cloud Computing: Technologies and Strategies of the Ubiquitous. Cengage: Cengage Learning.

Francis, L. (2008). Cloud Computing: Implications for enterprise software vendors. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Menken, I. (2008). Cloud Computing: The complete cornerstone guide to Cloud Computing. Petersburg: Longman.

Rittinghouse, J. (2009). Cloud Computing: Implementation, management, and security. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Wanbil, L. (2010). Information Security Management. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Velte, T. & Elsenpeter, R. (2009). Cloud Computing: A practical approach. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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