11 Jun 2021 20:01 IST

Why cloud computing will be technology of the future

The need for people qualified in various aspects of cloud be it full-stack developers to cloud security engineers is high

The old saying, “Water water everywhere, not a drop to drink,” is so apt. When you are in the middle of an ocean surrounded by water all around but because of the salinity of the water, you are unable to drink it. The same can be extended to the amount of data available today. I draw a corollary from this saying and modify it in the context of the data — “Data data everywhere, not a place to store.”

With the percolation of internet in the lives of all and the rapid digitisation across the world, it has practically become impossible to have a tape storage, magnetic storage or any mode of storage to be sufficient enough to cater to the needs of data storage and further its processing. Gone are the days when you were required to have the data with you for you to use it. Today is the era of cloud storage and data availability is “on-the-go.”

What is cloud computing?

Cloud computing is the usage of different services on the internet for performing operations such as storing, managing and processing data on a common storage that can be accessed from anywhere rather than one particular system. Instead of being stored directly on your own personal device, cloud-based data is stored on servers owned by companies such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google and is made accessible to you via the internet. Whether you are accessing your Gmail or streaming your movies through Netflix or listening to your favourite songs on Spotify, you are a customer of a cloud services provider.

This data owned by the user is stored physically on a server of the service provider and is maintained by the third party and can be accessed by a person having the security credentials. This is a disadvantage. However, by proper security and passwords, the data can be given some security.

It is not essential that only the known names own these cloud infrastructures. Cloud computing may be public, private and hybrid depending on the user’s needs. A private cloud refers to a cloud entirely owned by an organisation and all the computing resources are exclusively used by the employees and customers of the organisation, usually over the internet or over their own private networks. In contrast, Public clouds are owned and operated by a third-party cloud service providers and Hybrid clouds combine public and private clouds by technology that allows data and applications to be shared between them.

The type of Cloud services may be SaaS (Software as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service) and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service). PaaS is designed to make it easier for developers to quickly create web or mobile apps, without worrying about setting up or managing the underlying infrastructure of servers, storage, network and databases needed for development. Software as a service is a method for delivering software applications over the Internet, on demand and typically on a subscription basis.

With SaaS, cloud providers host and manage the software application and underlying infrastructure and handle any maintenance, such as software upgrades and security patching. Users connect to the application over the Internet, usually with a web browser on their phone, tablet or PC. The most basic cloud computing service is IaaS wherein you rent IT infrastructure such as servers and virtual machines (VMs), storage, networks, and operating systems from a cloud provider on a pay-as-you-go basis. The most popular IaaS is Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Is cloud computing truly a future technology?

Cloud computing provides a cost-efficient way of storing data by eliminating the capital expenses of buying hardware and software and setting up, running and maintaining on-site data centres. It also enables delivering the right amount of computing power, storage and bandwidth that too as per the requirements of the user. The access to data is on-the-go and you as a user are literally carrying your data wherever you go thus making the data availability more robust and lesser prone to device crashes.

One of the key characteristics of cloud computing is that the reliability factor is extremely high as the data is generally mirrored at multiple redundant sites on the cloud provider’s network instead of concentrating at a single location.

With businesses going online and more organisations moving to cloud platforms, it’s important to guarantee that cloud service providers can make a secure framework to ensure the wellbeing of their customer’s information. When storing data in cloud, it is stored in not just one data server but on multiple servers of the network. This reduces the chances of data getting lost. If it’s not available on one data server there is always a chance that it will be present in another server. When data is stored together, the cost for its security and maintenance is low, otherwise its very expensive to guard and protect the data from hazards. It eliminates the down time as it takes care of patching.

Is cloud computing just part of an engineering course?

Cloud computing is a specialised field of study today which finds its mention in courses ranging from computer science and engineering to civil engineering and physics to chemistry. It provides a platform for advanced technical knowledge in various fields of study and universities today are offering specialisations at undergraduate, post graduate and doctoral level in cloud computing.

The need for people qualified in various aspects of cloud computing be it full-stack cloud developers, cloud solution architect, cloud security engineers, cloud consultants, cloud service developers, development operations engineer, cloud system administrator, cloud data engineer, information technology architect, cloud network engineer is in great demand.

According to Forbes, there are more than 18 million jobs in cloud computing available worldwide. Realising the power, ease and potential of cloud computing, the top Indian companies too are transitioning from traditional data-based approach to cloud-based applications thus causing a surge in the demand of cloud computing professionals.  

 

 

Graphics by V Visveswaran

 

 

 

 

Food for thought

The same way that your money is probably safer mixed up with other people’s money in a bank vault than it is sitting alone in your dresser drawer, your data may actually be safer in the cloud: It’s got more protection from bad guys.

If you find this field intriguing and challenging, this is the time to dive deeper and master the field of cloud computing.

 

 

 

 

(The writer is Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, SRM Institute of Science and Technology, Vadapalani, Chennai.)