To access the cloud data, all you need is an interface i.e (a computer or a terminal) and the (software application or the tool) required to access the cloud computing system. In case of Gmail, Yahoo Mail based email services, the application required to access the cloud system is a Web Browser(Ex: Chrome, IE, Firefox..etc) from your end.
Other example would be "Smartphones"(Samsung Galaxy, Nokia Lumia, Xperia, Iphones...etc). They use cloud computing technology to let you store and access data that normally wouldn't fit on your mobile device. I'm certain that you would have seen a "Cloud Storage" option with a free "XX" Giga Byte storage in your smartphone!
Do you guys remember a time, when mobile phones used to come with a tiny 'smart card', where they provide extra 2 GB of data storage for free. Now they are providing an extra 5 GB(Ex.) of 'cloud storage' for free. So it is very important to learn about this technology in theory because cloud is the future.
What is "Cloud Computing"?
'Cloud' is a metaphor for 'Internet', which is where cloud computing resides (rather than residing in a server that’s physically located at one of the company’s facilities or say in your personal computer). Cloud computing services provides business applications, software services, computing resources to the users via Internet on an as-needed basis.
- The services are flexible: It provides service on-demand manner and scalable up to as many users as necessary, because the infrastructure is flexible.
- Customers pay based on their consumption (similar to pay & use concept like - an internet connection data usage or a talk-time in mobile phones). Yes, pay-per-use basis.
- Utilizing cloud storage would bring the operating cost down. Cloud computing would reduce the need for advanced hardware or software on the client(user's) side. You wouldn't need to buy the fastest computer with the big chunk of memory, because the cloud system would take care of those needs for you. Instead, you could buy an inexpensive computer terminal. You wouldn't need a large hard drive because you'd store all your information on cloud. All you need to do is log into the cloud service from your system and use all the services remotely.
- Servers and storage devices take up lots of space. Some companies rent physical space to store servers and databases because they don't have it available on site. Cloud computing gives these companies the option of storing data remotely on some server, removing the need for physical space.
- IT companies or Corporations that rely on computers have to make sure they have the right software version in place to achieve goals. Cloud computing systems give these organizations company-wide access to computer applications. The companies don't have to buy a set of software or software licenses for every employee. Instead, the company could pay a fee to a cloud computing company and get the services and the version updates on time without you having to keep a tab on.
- Say for example, a client/user would like to play a game which requires him or her to download a very big chunk of installable gaming software say 25 GB, you need not upgrade your personal computer's memory, instead download the software to your cloud and pay for the cloud services, this way you can enjoy the game anytime, anywhere you want.
- Also the cloud services are cost effective, soon you can see a shortage of IT maintenance jobs across the world, Thanks to Cloud! :) For the ones who do not have any idea on Software Industry's "Maintenance and Support" job, here is the scoop - it is a "Cash Cow" for any IT Company. "Maintenance & Support" projects run for so many years and clients(like the fortune 500 companies) pay every Indian IT services provider(like TCS, Wipro or MNC's like Accenture, IBM) a big chunk of dollars for their service. So IT guys, watch out for the doomsday!!! :)
- Clients would be able to access their applications and data from anywhere at anytime with any device, provided they have Internet Connection. Data wouldn't be confined to a hard drive on one user's computer or even a corporation's internal network. Do you think external hard drives and pen drives are going to see their doomsday soon? Yes, I guess! :-(
Security and Privacy of data are the only 2 concerns raised so far.
Handing important data of one company to another company worries the industry. Head of Corporations might think twice to take advantage of a cloud computing system because they can't keep their company's information under their scrutiny or protection. The counterargument to this position is that the companies offering cloud computing services live and die by their reputations(Ex Box.com,Dropbox.com..etc) by securing their client's data to the T. Otherwise, the service would lose all its clients. It's in their interest to employ the most advanced techniques to protect their clients' data.
If a client/user can log in from any location to access data and applications, it's possible that the client's privacy could be compromised. Cloud computing companies will need to find ways to protect user/client's privacy. There are 3 ways to deal with privacy issue:
- First and foremost, educating the users/clients about Cloud and the reason for them to access data from cloud judiciously. And also by restricting them to never access company data from public computer network. By keeping their anti-virus, firewall up to date before accessing the cloud data, they can stay away from trouble.
- Other way is to use Authentication techniques such as user names and passwords. Some random questions about the user can also be asked to do a second round of verification before logging in.
- Another way is to employ an Authorization technique, every user/client is allowed to access only the data and applications relevant to his or her job by utilizing user access privilege options.
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