Every generation thinks that they are in the pinnacle of development. But subsequent generation just prove then that they are wrong. One of the fields where this is very evident is the Information Technology and Communication Industry. For Example when Graham Bell invented the telephone he would have thought that their generation has reached the pinnacle in communication. He would have never thought that in future there would be a thing called Mobile phone which would enable anyone in this world to talk to anyone, anywhere. In a similar manner, cloud computing has come to revolutionize the way we use our computers.
So what is cloud computing? Cloud computing means computing based on shared resources which are accessible using the internet. So if Cloud computing has to do a lot with internet and the shared resources. This shared resource may be software or even any hardware. But where did the word cloud come from. Cloud actually has the same meaning as internet. Internet got the name cloud because of the fact that while drawing networking Diagrams, internet is represented by drawing a cloud.
For those who think that Cloud computing is something of the future, think once again. Every one of you here would have definitely used cloud computing. But the fact is that you never knew that you are using cloud computing. The best example I can give about a cloud computing service which everyone uses is email. This is why I said that everyone has used cloud computing without even knowing that.
In order to understand why web based email is a cloud service, we has to go back some 15 – 20 year. At that time in order to use the email service, you had to install a dedicated Mail Exchange server at your own premises. You had to incur huge capital costs to use email. But all these have been grandfathered with the advent of cloud computing. Now all these capital costs are born by the web based email service providers like Google’s Gmail. You only pay the revenue cost for using the service or if you opt for the free package, you pay nothing.
As I already said, cloud computing is all about accessing shared resources using the internet. This shared resource may be a software or even hardware. In order to do any particular computing job, you need hardware and an application program like Microsoft office or Tally. But according to the Cloud computing Philosophy, you only need an access point to connect to the internet. For that matter you don’t even need your PC or Laptop. The Mobile phones in your hands are fairly enough to use the cloud. With the introduction of 3G mobile services like my friend Anish said, avenues for Cloud Computing has broadened.
You no longer need to install any application program to start computing. All you need is a web browser like Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer and an Internet connection. All application programs are all ready for you in the cloud. All you have to do is just browse to the website which offers these applications and start computing.
Some of the companies which deal only in cloud computing include Sales Force, Zoho, Google, Adrive, Amazon etc. The most successful cloud computing company is Sales Force. Sales Force runs a Cloud based Customer Relationship Management or CRM solution at salesforce.com. It provides an interface for its clients to manage their customers.
Sales force may be the most successful cloud computing service, but the most popular cloud computing company is none other than Google. Google runs a wide range of Cloud based applications. Further it allows 3rd parties to host their applications in its servers through a service called Google App Engine. Some of the cloud computing services offered by Google include:
- Google Docs
- Google Wave
- Google app engine
- Picasa Web albums
- Google Reader
- YouTube and so on and so forth
One of the important aspects of Cloud Computing is that you don’t incur any capital cost. You only have to pay for what you use. In a way you are billed just like your Electricity bill or Telephone bill. For example if you are allotted a web space of about 10 GB and if you use only 5.5GB, then you will be billed for 5.5GB.
At this junction I would like to compliment some of the recent innovations of Google in the cloud computing arena. Google docs and Google wave in my opinion will rule the internet in the near future.
I hope now you would have got at least a pinch of knowledge about cloud computing. Now let us see the various kinds of Could Computing Models. The three Major Cloud Computing Models are: Software as a Service, Platform as a Service and Infrastructure as a Service. A cloud computing model usually comprises of these models at various degrees. Under Software as a Service Model, the Cloud computing company offers access to its software application in some remote location. The best example for this being Google Docs.
Google Docs is a Cloud computing alternative to the Office Application like MS Excel, Word Etc. It provides an interface to edit documents and spread sheets. Though it is in preliminary stages of development, it will definitely be a fierce competitor to the Microsoft Office’s monopoly. Fearing this Microsoft Corporation is now planning to release a cloud version of its office package. Google docs also allow you to share your files with other users. This enables other users to contribute to your resources. At present Google offers you a free limit of 1 GB web space, which suffices the needs of most users. But if it happens that you need more space you can always buy more space for a small amount. Another good thing that Google did was the integration of Google docs with Gmail. Now when you receive an email with a document or spreadsheet attached to it, you can automatically open the file for editing in Google Docs.
Another interesting cloud service of Google is the Google Wave. Wave is a real-time online collaboration tool. It allows many users to edit a document simultaneously in real-time. Every participant of the wave will be able to see what the other user is doing in real-time. Google Wave is most the most fascinating cloud application off all. It is now only in beta stage and has ample scope for development.
The next model of Cloud Computing is Platform as a service. Here the Cloud computing Company offers the required platform to run your programs. The best example for this is Amazon EC2. Amazon EC2 allows users to host their applications in its server and allows them to be run from there.
The Third model of cloud Computing is Infrastructure as a service. Here the users of cloud are spared from the huge capital investments in hardware. The infrastructure resources may vary from printers to high security Data centres.
I will be failing in my duty if after talking so much about cloud computing don’t mention about Chrome OS. Many of you would have known about the Chrome browser and many more of you may be using it, but what is this Chrome OS. By now you could have understood that after the advent of Cloud Computing, it is absolutely unnecessary to install application programs in your PC. Everything is available in the Cloud. Based on this Philosophy, Google is now developing Chrome OS. Chrome OS will essentially be built upon the chrome browser. This Operating System does not contain any application software. All that you have to do is boot the PC and start browsing the cloud to use various application programs. It is also fascinating to note that this operating System just boots in 6 seconds.
Just like a coin has two sides, Cloud computing has its own charms and problems. Let me consider some of them now.
Some of the advantages of Cloud computing are:
- Low Capital Costs
- Maintenance of Data is left to experts
- Can be accessed from any where
But the paramount disadvantage about cloud computing is the privacy and data security issues. No doubt your data is in the control of experts, but you do not have the complete control over it. There are always chances of privacy breach. Further if for any reason the data in the remote server is damaged or mutilated, you won’t have a backup of the same at your end. Further overdependence on the internet is dangerous. If for any reason, there is no network connectivity, no transaction can be transacted unless reconnection is made.