Cloud computing initiatives have attained a position of key importance in any digital transformation strategy. With enterprises paradigmatically shifting their focus from incremental to transformational benefits, cloud computing along with other emerging technologies like IoT, Data Analytics, and AI has made it possible for businesses to have bolder visions for the future.
Close to half of business leaders are planning to reach their digital transformation goals with SaaS transformation. – Net Solutions’ Digital Transformation 2020 Survey
Being a utility-based service, cloud computing helps businesses navigate their digital transformation through on-demand compute, storage, asset-light, and network resource provisioning. Although the cloud has turned out to be the foundation of a successful digital enterprise, only a few organizations have been able to optimize this powerful tool — less than one-third of businesses have a documented cloud strategy.
What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing has established itself as the new normal for the current business environment. It is one of the important innovations in the digital business landscape; however, it is often misunderstood and underutilized.
More than $1.3 trillion in IT spending will be affected by the shift to the cloud by 2022.
What exactly is the cloud? Who owns the cloud? How did the cloud start? These are some common questions around the cloud that you have probably heard. So what is cloud computing?
Cloud Computing Definition
Simply put, cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of IT-enabled capabilities, using digital technology trends, over the Internet to offer business agility, innovation, and growth. Cloud computing works on the pay-as-you-go pricing model, renting instead of buying physical data centers, which helps lower an organization’s operating cost.
Cloud Computing History
Cloud computing is not a modern technology. It has continued to evolve since the early 1950s. In 1955, John McCarthy created a time-sharing concept, enabling a group of users to use an expensive mainframe simultaneously. McCarthy’s theory of mainframe timesharing is said to have had a significant impact on the development of the internet.
With the evolution of technology, the concept of cloud computing took a giant leap in the mid-1960s, when an American computer scientist Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider described a theory of interconnected computing systems. This idea gave birth to the predecessor of the internet: ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network).
Licklider’s contribution is considered to be the most valuable in the creation of cloud computation; thus, he is believed to be the father of cloud computing.
From the 1970s to the 1990s, cloud evolved at break-neck speed because of advancements in technology. In 1972, IBM released VM (Virtual Machine) operating system, exhibiting the behavior of dedicated hardware, giving users the same experience on a virtual machine. In the 1990s, telecommunications companies started offering “Virtualized” Private Networks (VPNs) as rentable services.
Professor Ramnath Chellapa of Emory University, in the year 1997, defined cloud computing as:
As businesses started gaining a better understanding of the term cloud, it gained popularity, and in 1999, Salesforce emerged as an ideal example of successful cloud computing adoption.
However, the term cloud computing became extremely popular in 2006 when Amazon released its Elastic Compute Cloud product.
Benefits of Cloud Computing
The rate at which data is exploding has pushed the digital businesses to embrace cloud computing as the platform for innovation. Businesses across all the industries are leveraging cloud solutions for various use cases, like digital security, disaster recovery, big data analytics, and data backup.
37.3% of organizations believe ‘digital security’ is the biggest challenge that they face on the road to digital transformation. – Net Solutions’ Digital Transformation 2020 Survey
Today, cloud solutions help businesses navigate the challenges of the digital era, enabling them to respond to a complex and fast-paced business landscape quickly. Adopting the cloud allows businesses to run more effectively, serve customers better, and boost their revenue: companies that invest in cloud, big data, and mobility see a 53% faster revenue growth than their competitors.
Apart from helping businesses transform, differentiate, and gain a competitive advantage, the benefits of cloud computing are:
- Cost Optimization
- Automatic Upgrades
- Disaster Recovery
Types of Cloud Deployment: Public vs Private vs Hybrid Cloud
A single type of cloud computing is not fit for every business requirement. There are different cloud deployment models and services, which have evolved with time to offer the right solution for every disparate business needs. Thus, before going into the process of cloud migration, it is essential to determine the types of cloud deployment — Public Cloud, Private Cloud, and Hybrid Cloud.
1. Public Cloud
Public clouds are operated and owned by third-party providers. In the case of a public cloud, the services offered by cloud providers are over a network that is open for public use, implying that an organization shares the same hardware and network devices with other companies of the same cloud service provider. Microsoft Azure is an example of a public cloud.
2. Private Cloud
A private cloud is a cloud deployment model that is exclusively used by a single organization. In the case of a private cloud, the services and infrastructure are maintained on a private network, which is either located physically at the organization’s on-site data center or are hosted by third-party service providers.
3. Hybrid Cloud
The combination of private and public clouds gives rise to a hybrid cloud, allowing the sharing of data and applications between both of them. Using a hybrid cloud deployment model enables businesses to move applications and data between public and private clouds, leading to an agile, secure, and flexible digital business model.
Types of Cloud Services: IaaS vs SaaS vs PaaS
IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS are the types of cloud services that help businesses transform their digital experience while reducing the infrastructural costs in turn. All these cloud services differ mostly in what they offer to the end-user. Each of these cloud services has its benefits depending upon the business and functional requirements.
Here is a breakdown of the different cloud services: Iaas vs PaaS vs SaaS.
1. Software as a Service (SaaS)
SaaS/ software as a service refers to cloud based applications, hosted online by a company that makes it available for purchase on a pay-as-you-go pricing model. SaaS products are delivered via the Internet, and some of the common SaaS examples are Google Doc and Dropbox.
73% of organizations state that almost all of their apps will be SaaS-powered by 2020.
Key Reasons Businesses Should Adopt SaaS Business Model
Adopting a SaaS Business model provides many benefits over traditional on-premise software installations. Some of them are as follows:
- Speed of Innovation
- Reduced Marketing Efforts
- Faster Time to Market
- Reduced Churn Rates
- The Anytime, Anywhere Model
2. Platform as a Service (PaaS)
PaaS/ platform as a service refers to a cloud based platform service that offers a robust framework for developers to build, test, and manage new custom applications. Unlike SaaS, it does not provide software over the Internet; instead, it offers the platform to businesses where the software is being built. Google App Engine and OpenShift are common PaaS examples.
58% of those enterprises that have invested in Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) expect a positive ROI in less than three months.
3. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS/ infrastructure as a service refers to a cloud based infrastructure service that offers virtual data centers to businesses, which help them build and manage their operating systems, servers, data storage, and network infrastructure. The common IaaS examples are Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS).
IaaS is the fastest-growing cloud spending service with a five-year CAGR of 33.7%.
Cloud Computing Platforms: AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud
The cloud computing market is flooded with a number of cloud computing platforms; however, Amazon (AWS), Microsoft (Azure), and Google (Cloud) stand out as three leaders, according to their market share and Gartner’s Magic Quadrant report.
So, how do you decide which cloud computing platform to choose? Here is a breakdown of the different cloud computing platforms: AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud
1. Google Cloud Platform
As the name suggests, Google Cloud Platform is a cloud service offered by Google to build, deploy, and scale cloud based services, applications, and websites on the same infrastructure that Google uses for its end-user products. Big brands like Twitter, Spotify, and Forbes use Google cloud to run their operations.
Key Advantages of Google Cloud Platform
Google Cloud is a significant technological development and is being adopted by large enterprises and small businesses because of the following benefits:
- Higher productivity owing to quick access to innovation
- Less disruption when users adopt new functionality
- Employees can work from anywhere
- Allows quick collaboration
- Robust security
- Fewer data stored on vulnerable devices
- Higher uptime and reliability
2. Amazon Web Services
AWS is the world’s most adopted cloud platform, working on a pay-as-you-go model, dominating the public cloud market with a 39% share, spreading across 190 countries serving millions of customers like GE, Samsung, Coca Cola, Slack, and Netflix offering benefits like reduced costs, more agility, and faster innovation.
Why Should You Consider Amazon Web Services?
For the ninth year in a row, AWS is positioned at the top in the Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) across both the axes of measurement: Ability to Execute and Completeness of Vision. Following are a few benefits that AWS cloud computing platform offers:
- Enhanced Security
- Flexibility and Openness
- Elasticity and Scalability
3. Azure Web Services
Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing platform that was released in 2010, offering cloud computing services to build, test, deploy, manage, and scale services applications via Microsoft-managed data centers. 80% of Azure’s customers are from Fortune 500 companies: Apple, Fujifilm, Honeywell, and HP.
Why is Azure Web Services Right for Digital Business?
According to Microsoft, “Azure is a growing collection of integrated cloud services — analytics, computing, database, mobile, networking, storage, and web — for moving faster, achieving more, and saving money.” Following are some other benefits that Azure cloud computing platform offers:
- IaaS and PaaS Capabilities
- Personalized and Timely Customer Experiences
Cloud Computing Examples
Cloud computing examples surround us from all four sides: from messaging apps to productivity apps and audio streaming services. You are probably leveraging cloud computing at work in the form of business email or other communication applications.
There are plenty of cloud computing use cases, ranging from productivity to data analysis, communication, file backup, software testing, and development, and cloud storage. Most businesses use cloud computing apps through a subscription model, which is quite cost-effective.
Following are a few cloud computing examples and uses:
- Communication: Skype, Whatsapp, Slack
- Productivity: Microsoft Office 365, Gmail
- Data Storage: Dropbox, Facebook, Gmail
- Business Processes: Salesforce, Hubspot
- Application Development: Amazon Lumberyard
- Big Data Analytics: Hadoop, Cassandra, HPCC
- Social Networking: MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter
Most businesses have security concerns when it comes to the adoption of cloud computing. Cloud security breaches constantly make news headlines.
Security concerns have led some stakeholders to limit their organizational use of cloud services. A study by Cloud Security Alliance suggests that data security is the top concern for 73% of companies, thereby forcing them to hold back cloud projects.
Is Cloud Secure?
Cloud security breaches do happen. However, they are often framed with ambiguous explanations. The reality is that most of the data thefts occur internally and are performed by employees.
Gartner predicts that through 2020, 95% of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault.
When this is the case, what will be better to keep sensitive information safe than the cloud platform? The cloud security services allow you to protect your data and monitor security-related activity, thereby enabling you to increase your security posture in the cloud, deliver more agile IT, and lower costs.
Cloud is a buzzword, but a staggering 37% of cloud migrations fail. Big brands like Twitter and Pinterest have experienced a cloud migration failure. Even the UK-based bank TSB witnessed a cloud migration fiasco, forcing them to increase interest payments to cover customer losses. So why do cloud migrations fail?
Good tactics can save even the worst strategy. Bad tactics will destroy even the best strategy. – General George S. Patton Jr.
One of the key reasons for cloud migration failure is the business’s inability to frame out a cloud strategy before embarking on a cloud migration journey. There are a few necessary steps that every enterprise cloud strategy should follow.
- Creating an Enterprise Cloud Strategy Team
- Analyzing Applications Thoroughly
- Building A Hybrid Cloud Strategy Roadmap
- Reskilling and Upskilling
Net Solutions’ Digital Transformation 2020 report highlights that organizations face various challenges — digital security, digital vision & strategy, and organization readiness — on their road to digital transformation. To navigate these digital transformation challenges, businesses are turning towards cloud solutions.
However, organizations face many complications when they begin their cloud migration journey. One of the common questions regarding cloud migration is, “How do we even start?”
Following are the 5R’s cloud migration strategy that helps businesses embark on a successful cloud migration journey.
In today’s Digital Darwinian world, the break-neck speed at which technology is transforming has put tremendous pressure on enterprise IT infrastructures to adapt and deliver quickly, thereby drawing a line between digital predators and digital prey.
The future of cloud computing is rapidly entering the phygital world. It enables businesses to leverage innovative ways to grow and achieve their goals. And organizations that restrict themselves in embracing it, may experience dire consequences of Digital Darwinism — evolve or die.