WHAT IS CLOUD COMPUTING
Cloud Computing, key to the democratization of innovation
The COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed the potential of Cloud Computing. The accessibility that it provides to any professional to access software from anywhere has been key to the implementation of remote working for companies. In addition, the Cloud improves productivity by making processes more agile or reducing IT and maintenance costs and even minimizes the environmental impact.
We are living through a time of constant technological innovation, which has been boosted and accentuated even more by the COVID-19 pandemic. Cloud Computing, together with Big Data, the Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, will be one of the innovations that will shape the coming years. In fact, this technology is promoting itself as an essential tool for businesses. Below, we explain what it is and how it works, as well as its main advantages.
CLOUD COMPUTING - DEFINITION AND ORIGIN
Cloud Computing is a technology that provides remote access to software, data processing and file storage on the Internet, making it an alternative to working on a personal computer or local server. This is how the American software company Salesforce defines this technology, which also points to its ability to democratise access to international-level software resources as one of its main virtues.
Marc Benioff, Salesforce CEO
The cloud provides services to companies of all sizes. The Cloud is for everyone. The Cloud is a democracy
In other words, Cloud Computing offers both individuals and companies a pool of well-maintained IT resources that can be accessed simply, securely, and on demand. There is a key expression in this technology: multi-location, which is what differentiates cloud computing from simple outsourcing and previous application service provider models.
The origin of this technology dates back to the '60s. For some experts it was John McCarthy, to whom the concept of Artificial Intelligence is also attributed, who introduced it in 1961. On the other hand, there are those who believe that the concept of Cloud Computing could already be seen in the contemporary work of Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider, one of the creators of ARPANET — the seed of today's Internet —, who visualised everybody being able to be interconnected in order to access data and programs from anywhere.
CHARACTERISTICS OF CLOUD COMPUTING
Now that we have the definition, we can list the main attributes of Cloud Computing according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST):
Resources can be allocated and released quickly on demand. Thus, the user enjoys an experience that can be scaled up or down according to his or her actual use.
Users can equip themselves with computing resources by their own means without needing to consult an IT professional or the service provider.
Cloud systems have measuring mechanisms for each service, allowing monitoring of the use of resources. This provides transparency for the provider and the consumer.
The various capabilities are available via the network and accessed through standard mechanisms, which means that the software has multiple users.
The provider's IT resources are combined to provide service to multiple consumers through platforms like computers, smartphones and tablets, among others.
HOW DOES CLOUD COMPUTING WORK AND WHAT IS IT USED FOR
To understand Cloud Computing it helps to know how it works. In simple terms, this technology uses a network layer to connect outlying user devices to centralised resources in a data centre — places that require a large amount of energy for power supply and cooling —.
Cloud Computing in itself comprises two parts:
- Front end
The front end infrastructure includes everything that the end user interacts with, i.e. components such as local networks, web browsers and web applications.
- Back end
The back end infrastructure takes care of powering the front end architecture. It includes the hardware and storage and is located on a remote server.
Cloud Computing has many applications but we highlight three of them:
- Software maintenance: when the software comes from the Cloud, problems and fluctuating costs largely disappear.
- It provides better security: Cloud computing security is far superior to that of traditional computing, which strengthens a company's cybersecurity.
- It democratises computing: this technology is capable of putting all users on the same level, regardless of how many of them are on the platform.
TYPES OF CLOUD COMPUTING
According to the technological multinational IBM, there are three types of Cloud Computing, although with Salesforce there is a fourth:
- Private Cloud: an infrastructure used by a single organisation, whether managed and hosted internally or externally. It does not have a public access point.
- Public Cloud: these belong to and are administered by companies that offer fast and affordable access to IT resources through a public network.
- Hybrid Cloud: this uses a private Cloud base combined with strategic integration and the use of the services of a public Cloud.
- Community Cloud: Created when different companies or organisations combine their resources on the Cloud with the aim of solving a common problem.
ADVANTAGES OF CLOUD COMPUTING
Cloud Computing offers numerous advantages to companies that opt to use it. They include:
Recovery problems are solved more quickly and efficiently in the Cloud than with traditional computing.
The service providers take care of automatic maintenance of the server, including security-related updates.
Employees can opt for remote working and do their jobs from anywhere provided they have access and a connection to the internet.
Services offered via the Cloud have the capacity to meet more demand and in a more immediate way.
Teamwork is strengthened, since all employees can share applications and documents simultaneously.
It only uses the space it needs on the server, which helps to reduce the company's carbon footprint.