Cloud Computing Explained by Dell Malaysia

Cloud computing is the solution to help to achieve an agile, efficient IT infrastructure that responds quickly and flexibly to the changing demands of business, explains Kumaraan Arumugam of Dell Malaysia.
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What Is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is the delivery of different services through the Internet. These resources include tools and applications like data storage, servers, databases, networking, and software. Rather than keeping files on a proprietary hard drive or local storage device, cloud-based storage makes it possible to save them to a remote database. As long as an electronic device has access to the web, it has access to the data and the software programs to run it.

Cloud computing is named as such because the information being accessed is found remotely in the cloud or a virtual space. Companies that provide cloud services enable users to store files and applications on remote servers and then access all the data via the Internet. This means the user is not required to be in a specific place to gain access to it, allowing the user to work remotely.

Furthermore, Cloud computing is a popular option for people and businesses for a number of reasons including cost savings, increased productivity, speed and efficiency, performance, and security.

The Value of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing enables IT organisations to respond faster to the needs of the business while driving greater operational efficiencies.

Cloud computing delivers IT as a service. The main features of a cloud include:

  • Virtually unlimited processing and storage capacity
  • Abstracted, pooled resources
  • Elasticity (the ability to scale up or down easily)
  • On-demand, self-service provisioning
  • High level of automation
  • Consumption-based billing.

It can be in the form of:

  • a private cloud, operated and hosted by an enterprise IT department or by an external provider is for the exclusive use of and accessible only within an organisation
  • a public cloud of an external provider, which is open to any number of organisations and individual users on a shared basis. Public cloud services provide their services over the Internet for a fee
  • a hybrid cloud that spans both of the above, linking private and public clouds to provide access to extra resources when the private cloud hits maximum utilisation. A hybrid cloud might also split computing by tier between private and public clouds. For example, the database may reside in the private cloud while the application server is located in the public cloud.

A true cloud has three key characteristics:

  • flexible costs on a pay-per-use basis,
  • the ability to elastically scale capacity up or down,
  • geographic and hardware independence.

Types of Cloud Computing:

Cloud computing is not a single piece of technology like a microchip or a cellphone. Rather, it's a system primarily comprised of three services: software-as-a-service (SaaS), infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), and platform-as-a-service (PaaS).

  • Software as a service (SaaS) involves the licensure of a software application to customers. Licenses are typically provided through a pay-as-you-go model or on-demand. This type of system can be found in Microsoft Office's 365. 
  • Platform as a service (PaaS) is considered the most complex of the three layers of cloud-based computing. PaaS shares some similarities with SaaS, the primary difference being that instead of delivering software online, it is actually a platform for creating software that is delivered via the Internet. 
  • Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) involves a method for delivering everything from operating systems to servers and storage through IP-based connectivity as part of an on-demand service. Clients can avoid the need to purchase software or servers, and instead procure these resources in an outsourced, on-demand service. Popular examples of the IaaS system include IBM Cloud and Microsoft Azure.

Maximising Existing Resources

Cloud computing enables an application to take advantage of idle or excess computing, storage and network capacity that is shared with other applications. The cloud is one of the keys to avoiding overprovisioning and enabling efficient load balancing among computing resources.

As organisations move toward cloud computing, they typically evolve through three phases:

Implementing virtualisation is the first step, followed by accelerating and expanding its use. The final phase is interconnecting the data centres to create a single resource pool and private cloud; this phase might also include utilising compatible public clouds if appropriate. The resulting hybrid infrastructure provides true on-demand computing in an environment designed for maximum flexibility.

Cloud services create significant cost and business model advantages — helping to reduce capital and operational expenses, enhancing business agility while minimising risk, and enabling resources (and personnel) to shift from simply keeping a data centre running to pursuing strategic business goals.

Cloud Computing As A Career

Graduating in the field of Information Technology with exposure to virtualisation technology will be the stepping stone leading into the cloud world. Knowledge in storage management technology, networking and IT security could certainly help individuals gain a well-versed understanding of the cloud framework.

Other relevant competencies include having the knowledge and certification in the ITIL framework (a set of best-practice procedures and processes for IT and digital service management) as well as obtaining the certifications in the fields of virtualisation, networking, IT security and storage management. Exposure and experience in these areas can help one become a domain expert within the cloud framework.