Cloud Computing, Its Characteristics, Pros and Cons

            Cloud computing is described as an internet-based computing, that involves the deployment of software and hardware resource to the users on-demand basis. In other words, cloud computing is the term used to describe anything that involves the provision of hosted service to the user on-demand through the internet (Greenwell, et al., 2014). The term ‘cloud computing’ was used as cloud symbol which normally represent the internet. Through cloud computing, small and medium-sized business have been able to utilize software delivered over the internet on the browser devoid of any installation. They host the application on the internet and subsequently set up their own database and remote file storage system.

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            Analysis indicated that small, medium and large-sized business are shifting their operation to cloud computing due to low cost involve. Setting servers within a business premise is a costly affair, therefore, business especially small and medium size prefer to have the computing device in their office and servers located somewhere else and accessed over the internet (Nedhal, 2015). As an IT consultant, it is important to consider the main characteristics of the cloud computing in order to advice the business accordingly.

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Kinds of cloud computing technologies

            There are three kinds of cloud computing technologies: Public cloud computing, private cloud computing and hybrid cloud computing. Each organization implement any of these three cloud computing technologies based on their needs.

The public cloud computing technology

            This is the kind of cloud computing technology in which the cloud hosting provides the service to the clients through a network that is open to the public. This kind of cloud computing mirrors the true cloud hosting in which the services and infrastructure are provided to many clients. This means that the clients have no control over the place and distinguishability of the location where the infrastructure is located (Martson, et al., 2010). Based on the structural design, there is no difference between open and private cloud computing technologies. The slight differences is the level of security extended to the open and private cloud computing subscribers by the cloud hosting providers.

            Studies have indicated that open or public cloud computing is recommended for business that manages the load. These are businesses that manages the applications consumed by many users such as SaaS-based. Considering the costs and capital overheads involved in this model, public cloud computing is very economical (Martson, et al., 2010). The dealers of public cloud computing model delivers the service in two forms: free such as public cloud provided by Google or license policy. This means that the cost is shared by the all users thus profiting consumers most due to economies of scale. However, the issues of security has been concern to many users since the cloud application are accessed by public network.

Private cloud

            This kind of cloud computing technologies is also referred to as internal cloud. This is a cloud-based model that is provided in a secure environment protected by firewall installed and controlled by IT department of a particular corporate. Since this product restrict the users to only authorized personnel, it allows the users to have direct and greater control over their data (Wang, et al., 2010). Private cloud computing technology best suit business and users that have unforeseen or dynamic needs such as uptime requirements, management demands, security alarms and mission critical. The issues of security concerns is eliminated in private cloud computing except in the case natural disaster which is a risk to the product.

Hybrid cloud computing

This an integrated kind of cloud computing technology that brings together public and private cloud computing. The advantages of this kind of cloud computing is that it overcomes the boundaries created by either public or private. Is also allows the consumers to scale up their capacities through customization, assimilation and aggregation (Wang, et al., 2010). Being an hybrid product, it means that the resource are provided and managed either by external or in-house providers. It is recommended to organizations that process big data. For example, a company may deploy private cloud model to retain business and sales and use public cloud model to conduct analytical queries.

Main characteristics

  • Resource pooling: The providers of cloud computing brings together large economies of scale via a resource pooling. They harnessed hard drives and a vast network and utilize the similar set of protections, configuration and work for them.
  • Virtualization: The users such as businesses, organization, individuals and institution do not have to worry about physical states of their hardware as well hardware compatibility.
  • Elasticity: Cloud computing has the ability to be expanded to support more hard disk space and server bandwidth on demand basis. In addition, geographical scalability can also be provided. For example, the user can request the service providers to replicate the data to several data centers globally.
  • Automatic/easy resource deployment: Upon any demand from the user, the provider of the cloud computing based on the specification and types of resource requested by configuring the system automatically.
  • Metered billing: The user only pay for what they have used since the billing is done automatically.

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In addition, virtualization builds “location freedom” which allows virtual machines to be moved across wider geographies (CISCO, 2013). Since virtualization supports multi-tenancy capabilities and cloud architectures, it enhance maturity and development of economies of scale in the organization through business units, aggregation of resources as well as separation of corporation and segmenting infrastructure.

Despite the high uptake of cloud computing by small and medium-sized business, cloud computing comes with advantages and disadvantages. These pros and cons were described as follows;

The pros of cloud computing

  • Reduces costs of infrastructure: Cloud computing help the organization to cut down the costs of investing in standalone software and servers, which are normally capital intensive and sometimes not always in use (Greenwell, et al., 2014). In addition, cloud computing eliminate the costs of data storage, IT personnel, management overhead, bandwidth, power and real estate. Cost of upgrade and replacement of obsolete network as well as security is transferred to cloud providers, thus significantly reducing the costs of operations and maintenance the organization could have incurred.
  • Scalability, speed and capacity: Cloud computing enable organization to deploy speed, scalability and capacity to their networked environment (Greenwell, et al., 2014). The aspect of scalability has made cloud provider to acquire computing capacity that they require at one specific time. Purchasing excess computing capacity has proved to be wasteful and expensive. As a result, cloud computing allows the users to purchase the product based on their own demand computing capacity, hence eliminating extra costs and wastage.
  • Mobility, geography and availability: Cloud computing technology allows the users to retrieve, store and access information over the internet at any location.
  • Sustainability: In a situation whereby a natural or manmade disaster strike the area of operations, the user would not have to worry about the process of data recovery since the computing capability is store away from their business premises.

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Cons of cloud computing

            Some of the cons associated with cloud computing include:

  • Security: This is the biggest concern associated with cloud computing since the data of the business is stored away from the business premises. Therefore, the issues of security must be addressed especially in a situation where the data stored in cloud computing contain customers files, proprietary lists and trade secrets.
  • Redundancy: This is a situation where an application running in the business website crashes and another application picks up the operations from where the crashed application left and keeps the business running. However, since all these application resides in the data center where multiple servers runs, the business is likely to be interrupted if the entire data center was crash.
  • Performance: The performance of the business can be affected considering that cloud computing environment runs on servers that simultaneously provide resource to other business. As a result, when the demand goes up and down, the business operations would be affected.

Challenges associated with implementing and managing cloud technologies

            Analysis have shown that organization and companies faces a lot of challenges when determining the best kind of cloud computing technology to adopt. These challenges are associated with requirements of each cloud computing model as well as the needs of the users. The most common challenge encountered by the users is the security and privacy especially business that intend to adopt public cloud model (Wang, et al., 2010). Considering that public cloud model uses is provided through a network that is meant for public usage and the infrastructure is not dedicated to any single organization, the data stored is prone to hacking. Although, the service provider have put in place security mechanism to mitigate the issue of hacking, the incidents of attacks and hacking in public cloud model is higher as compared to private cloud model. However, these challenge can be mitigated by the users by ensuring that the information and data stored in cloud computing is encrypted.

            The second challenge is the issues of portability and interoperability challenges. Analysis indicated that cloud computing technology provides for limited option for clients who would wish to migrate from one cloud model to another. This can be mitigated by leveraging and allowing smooth migration process from one service provider to another.

            The third challenge is associated with expertise and skilled personnel. The skilled and experienced personnel play important role in ensuring that issues arise during implementation process is addressed on time.

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