Though considered by many to be the latest advent in information technology, Cloud Computing has its roots laid down in the 1960s in the form of a global computer network. It has since evolved from many phases. From grid and utility computing to the latest addition in 2009 of Software as a Service (SaaS), Cloud Computing has come a long way. However, it has gained much traction with the turn of the century. People now prefer saving their valuable information on the cloud rather than physical drives, which are vulnerable to getting damaged over time. The added advantage of using cloud-based storage is that it can be accessed remotely from anywhere and anytime.
What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud Computing can be defined as any computing service that is being provided over the cloud. It is different from local storage where data is stored on physical drives located in the proximity of their usage. Cloud Computing also differs from server virtualization, wherein a physical server itself is virtually divided to create server space.
Cloud Computing is basically a metaphor for the internet. It implies storing and accessing your data and programmes over the internet and syncing your data over the web. The cloud has evolved over the years into multiple services, that are utilized for varied ends and purposes:
1. Platforms-as-a-Service (PaaS) – Cloud Computing is used by businesses as a platform to create and manage customized applications for the internal use of all the employees of the business.
2. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) – Cloud Computing allows businesses to access and use software, applications and programmes over the internet.
3. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) – This is the latest ‘big-thing’ wherein major Cloud Computing companies like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Rackspace, etc. rent out server space to corporations.
Cloud Computing has achieved prominence and popularity in recent times significantly due to a higher speed, improved efficiencies, advanced security, better performance, increased productivity, seamless scalability, and most importantly, affordability!
Today, we will be primarily looking at Cloud Computing to understand the underlying architecture, benefits and security features.
Cloud Computing Architecture
Cloud components work more or less independent of each other while being connected through the internet. They are broadly divided into front-end and back-end components.
- Front end: The front end is managed by the client and consists mainly of the user-interface to interact with the back-end components of the cloud. Examples of front-end would include internet browsers through which the clients manage to access the files stored in the back end of the Cloud Computing architecture.
- Back end: In the back end is the service provider with all the components needed to manage and operate the cloud architecture. The usual back end components are data-storage, virtual machine, deployment modes, security infrastructure, etc.
The front-end and back-end are connected through the internet. The internet is what makes Cloud Computing possible.
Types of Cloud Architecture for Various Business Requirements
- Single site: It makes use of the three-tier architecture by splitting up a single server into multiple computer instances. It comes in two variants, non-redundant and the redundant version.
- Single server: It utilizes a single physical or virtual server for its needs. The LAMP stack makes use of single-server architecture. They are vulnerable to security concerns and are mostly utilized for development purposes.
- Auto-scaling architecture: Autoscaling allows scaling of resources horizontally as per the needs of the clients. It can increase or decrease the number of computing instances in real-time, giving the clients the opportunity to consume only what is needed.
What are the Advantages of Cloud Computing?
Here we would present the key benefits of Cloud Computing, which can make any business thrive on.
- Cost-saving: Cloud Computing plans seem to be worrying for businesses too much initially. This is due to the high price tag attached to it. But if you analyze the features it provides, it may prove to be a cost-effective solution. The return on investment that cloud infrastructure provides makes it worth every penny.
- Security: Research conducted by RapidScale found out that a company switching to the cloud infrastructure for their file hosting experienced an improvement in security. Most of the service providers use encryption to communicate information over networks. This encryption makes it nearly impossible for hackers to breach.
- Scalability: One key advantage of Cloud Computing is that it offers you to scale your resource requirement as per business demands. It is an ideal solution for small businesses with fluctuating bandwidth demands. The agility, Cloud Computing gives to your business provides an edge to your over traditional competitors.
- Backup and Disaster recovery: Cloud-based backup is considered an up-gradation over traditional methods. Backup in physical drives may get corrupt or damaged. However, with your data stored in the Cloud, you can rest assured of its security. Also, even in the event of any disaster, your data can easily be restored from anywhere and anytime. This benefit of Cloud has also helped with backing up data for important business assets like websites and certain applications. Cloud Web Hosting providers mirror the site data across multiple servers rather than one physical server. This ensures data redundancy, seamless data backups and automatic data recovery.
Security Threats in Cloud Computing
Although considered as a more secure alternative to traditional computing resources, the cloud does suffer from certain vulnerabilities which should be taken seriously.
- Data breach: With an increase in the number of data breaches every year, Cloud Computing also suffered many data breaches in 2019. Many big organizations like Facebook and Equifax have reported data compromise in recent years.
- Vulnerable APIs and insecure interfaces: APIs are the interface which clients use to manage their cloud resources. They may be prone to cyberattacks and other malicious attempts.
- Incomplete data deletion: Since data is stored on multiple storage devices and is less visible to the user, any incomplete deletion may pose serious risk threats. Any remnants can get in the hands of cyber attackers and can cause a huge loss for the business.
- Stored data is lost: This could be due to human negligence both on the provider and the user’s side. This can cause permanent loss of customer data. Also, some technical knowledge is required to manage the resources on the cloud properly. Inadequate knowledge may result in havoc for the company.
If we do the cost-benefit analysis of Cloud Computing, it gives a healthy return. While cloud security has been a cause of concern as well as debate, one thing is for sure – Cloud Computing is here to stay. Every technology evolves with time, improvements are made, and issues are resolved. Cloud is an ever-growing and ever-evolving technology. While security is a valid concern, the seamlessness of cloud backups and the efficiency of data recoveries cannot be downplayed. The quick scalability, advanced threat detection and endpoint scanning, automatic backups and data mirroring, efficient data redundancies and easy recoveries make cloud-based solutions the perfect partner for your critical business resources.
Tell us below in the comments about how you have made use of the cloud in your day-to-day activities and how the cloud technology benefited you or your business.