The thing with technology is that we start to use it to our benefit and convenience, often without understanding how it really works.
Take, for example, the simple task of sharing a link to a document on a drive. While we do it probably several times a day, how does it actually work? This is where Cloud Computing comes in. We look at it today.
Here’s what we’ll cover today
- What is Cloud Computing
- Top organizations that offer cloud services
- Career roles in the sector
Most of us have wondered if the “Cloud” is real. It isn’t. It is just a term – a metaphor, if you will, for the internet and the way it is tweaked to suit our needs. Cloud computing is a way of storing information on different servers or databases and accessing it from another device from anywhere on the planet, with the help of the Internet. But it doesn’t just end there. Cloud computing is the term given to sharing resources such as storage, networking and analytics, among others. These are generally hosted by service providers who typically charge the users for services that are offered. What it means is that if someone were to run out of hardware resources, they could go online, pay for the type of service required (in this case, hardware), use the hardware remotely and get work done.
“So if I use resources that are available on my system, it isn’t cloud computing?” Spot on. The terminology used when someone works on their personal computer is known as local computing and it is limited by the storage and computational capacity of the device available locally. Cloud computing needs to work in a distributed manner and the web is used extensively for sharing resources. As users, we do not have to understand the complex operations that take place at the backend. However, if you are looking forward to a career in cloud computing, you must know what it encompasses.
Cloud services are generally categorized into three types.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – IaaS is the type of cloud service where an organization depends on another company for storage and other technical resources. In fact, these resources become the backbone of the companies that rent them out.
Platform as a Service (PaaS) – If an organization wants its people to work on the same set of applications or a custom application, they would choose a platform that can be rented or leased out, rather than individually install these software on every employee’s device. Platform-as-a-service generally takes care of development and deployment software. It also includes infrastructure such as storage, network etc and can even provide support for business intelligence and analytics.
Software as a Service (SaaS) – Organizations can make use of SaaS when they need to access a particular software/application through the cloud. Typically, organizations pay-per-use or buy the software as part of a package.
There are quite a number of organizations that provide cloud services that include applications, storage support, interactive services, platforms for different technologies such as AI, ML, IoT etc., The top companies that offer cloud services are listed here.
Examples of everyday cloud applications include Google Drive, Microsoft Office Online, iCloud, and Dropbox among others.
Due to the impressive growth of cloud computing, many roles surrounding cloud technologies have begun to become popular.
Here are some roles that are set to have a high-demand in the years to come:
Cloud Architect – Cloud architects are those that oversee cloud solutions. The architects are responsible for understanding how cloud works, create plans to merge multiple clouds, maintain and manage clouds, and deploy necessary resources to keep the cloud running.
Cloud Automation Engineer – They utilize their skills in development to automate the cloud. They have to implement and optimize the cloud for which they require in-depth knowledge of hardware and software.
Cloud Data Scientist – The role of a cloud data scientist is to read the data available in the cloud and get insights. This can help them to improve the cloud data and to maintain
Cloud Developer – Developers who can code the cloud applications can take up this role. The role requires the person to have a deep understanding about how cloud systems work and possess a flair for coding in multiple languages.
Cloud Engineer – Cloud Engineers implement and maintain cloud systems. The key skills required for this role include an understanding of IT infrastructure, hardware and software, and system operations.
Cloud System Operations Manager – These are the ones responsible for maintaining the cloud system once it is deployed.
Cloud Security Engineer – They improve cloud security by implementing standards that protect data and prevent attacks, both from the inside as well as the outside.
The Internet, as most of the users believe, is a virtual entity. However, the devices that enable it to function are physical. They are affected by environmental factors, require regular maintenance and need to be upgraded time and again. That said, most of these devices use up a lot of energy, even more so if the data that we requested lies in some other remote corner of the globe, thousands of miles away from us. Most cloud related operations rely on physical servers and other storage equipment to keep us propped up. Therefore, it is safe to say that the cloud isn’t a weightless entity – it is very physical and it requires a lot of energy.
Another issue pertaining to the cloud that demands our attention is security. A report by Gartner showed that devices that were connected to the Internet via their organizational networks could easily be hacked. One of the costliest cyberattacks in recent times was seen in 2020 when Colonial Pipeline suffered a ransomware attack. According to Sophos, a British security software and hardware organizations, 70% of the organisations that relied on cloud technology faced an attack in the last year. There’ve also been worries about companies capturing our data and storing them to later glean our habits and insights. It is up to the cloud providers to ensure cloud security.
Recent developments in data security have ensured that the cloud is being remodelled into a secure environment known as the “confidential cloud”, thus making cloud migration easier. This could mean that with security threats being thwarted, it will make it easier for us to handle cloud migration and to exchange information on the cloud without reservations. Confidential cloud encrypts data as it is being processed.
When most people switched to the work-from-home model over the course of the pandemic, the transition was quite smooth. This was partly because most organizations had a cloud-first approach. The dependence of a physical environment has reduced drastically as most services can be accessed remotely. The pandemic and the economic disruption that has been felt across the globe have contributed to the growth of newer technologies that enable seamless, remote-working environments. It is estimated that by 2023, at least 40% of organizational workloads will be accessed through the cloud. Switching to virtual offices might just become the thing even after the pandemic so gearing up for the changes with cloud computing is the way to go.
With the amalgamation of AI and ML with services offered by the cloud (SaaS for example), the need for deploying on-site resources to act on the data can be eliminated. A lot of strategic planning is required when most of the organisations switch to cloud without focusing on improving the performance, thereby leading to a reduced service quality. The onus will lie on cloud architects to design practical and enduring solutions and there will definitely be a lot of demand for those who possess cloud technology-related knowledge.
Cloud computing is being used extensively for applications related to AI, IoT, and Big Data Analytics. Cloud computing is set to play a very important role in many an organization’s growth owing to its flexibility, cost effectiveness, scalability, ability to retrieve data that is misplaced or deleted so that recoveries can be made easily, and it’s ability to promote strong teamwork. At the end of the day, cloud computing is sure to change the way we do business. Organizations would do well to invest in cloud technologies at the earliest.