Cloud computing is a technology that affects businesses and all Internet users. It allows companies to work more efficiently and optimizes costs and processes. It is also a relatively young technology but it’s effects can be observed every day by all of us (although we may not be aware of that). This chapter was created to present knowledge about this technology. It is designed to clarify both the terminology and concept of cloud computing. The aim of the module is to provide knowledge regarding this technology and the most important definitions that are an integral part of this idea.
Thanks to this module, the learner will understand what a public, private and hybrid cloud is, and will know the difference between the types of services: SaaS, IaaS and PaaS. This will allow the learner to understand the basics and to better explore the subject of cloud computing in the future. Another purpose of this chapter is to show how this technology affects our lives. This will allow the reader to understand why it is so important to know this technology.
The development of the cloud is also closely related to the topic of Industry 4.0. The learner will understand how the fourth industrial revolution and its technologies support each other in development and why their coherent growth is so important for technological success. This module will also provide knowledge about the historical path of cloud computing development. All the topics covered have one goal – after reading this module, the learner should have a general idea about such a broad and complex topic as is cloud computing. This knowledge will help him/her understand the essence of this technology and provide a good basis for exploring the topic in the future. This module ends with a test consisting of a quiz and interactive exercises to verify the level of acquired knowledge. Below are presented learning outcomes, which indicate what knowledge will be acquired by the learner as a result of reading this chapter.
- Understanding the definition of “cloud computing”.
- Recognising the benefits of using cloud computing.
- Understanding the different between types of cloud computing.
- Public cloud
- Private cloud
- Hybrid cloud
- Multi cloud
- Community cloud
- Understanding the models of services in the cloud
- Learning about history of cloud computing.
- Understanding the role of cloud computing in Industry 4.0.
- Understanding the challenges facing by cloud computing.
[nextpage title=”What is cloud computing”]
Cloud computing is a technology that is more and more often mentioned by experts as one of the key technologies of the future. But what actually mean the term „cloud computing”?
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) described it as „a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”
This definition may seem quite complicated.
In other word cloud computing is the use of IT capabilities (data collection, use of software, services, etc.) without the need to have these tools on computers or without the need to have servers to collect data, but by purchasing services from an external entity. So basically you use certain IT tools without buying them physically, but because someone has made them available to you (vendor provides servers, apps, storage place) and you pay him for that.
The first question that comes to mind with regard to this technology is how it affects our lives and makes them better and why it is worth implementing it in your company.
So let’s start by explaining what kind of profits an entrepreneur (or any other user) can have from using such a technology:
- Cost. – The professional use of cloud computing is naturally not cost-free, but it can reduce the expenses that company would have to incur if it decided to use their own servers (cost of purchases, installation, air conditioning, space rental, IT support and many more). Therefore, although you have to bear the costs of using the cloud, in the end it may turn out to be cheaper and more effective than in the “old-fashioned” approach.
- Security. – Although at first glance it may seem less secure than having your own servers, remember that in the first case you would have to take care of your own backups, data protection, security updates, etc. In the case of cloud computing, you will benefit from professionals (usually large corporations) who provide the highest level of security with the latest technology. Transferring responsibility can be a good decision. You can also use different types of clouds to increase safety or you can move only part of your data to the cloud and keep the most private of them on your own servers.
- Simplicity and time saving. – Cloud computing is easy to use (for end user) and does not require advanced IT skills from entrepreneurs. This allows them to focus strictly on running their business without having to pay attention to maintaining servers etc. Cloud also makes it much easier for developers to design or test applications (more about it later). The time savings are due to the fact that you don’t have to manage every element by yourself (or through your employees), but you outsource some operation to your vendor. Time-saving can also mean using ready-made solutions rather than creating them from scratch.
- Versatility. – The use of cloud computing is also a versatile solution. Which in practice means that you can operate on it by using any equipment connected to the Internet. This is of course great news for entrepreneurs who don’t need to have physical offices to run their business. What is more, the versatility of this solution is also expressed in the fact that the cloud computing service can be tailored to a specific enterprise. It allows entrepreneurs to pay and use only the tools they need.
- Comfort. – This point is a kind of cumulation of previous ones. The use of cloud computing is a convenience which consists in the fact that an entrepreneur does not have to worry about running out of space on servers, using outdated technology, that a failure will stop the company’s operation, that it does not sufficiently protect stored data, and so on. Comfort of use is also caused by the transfer of responsibility to vendor.
So how to start using cloud computing?
First of all, we need to understand terminology and some concepts about the models and types of this technology.
When deciding to buy cloud computing, you must be aware of its diversity. When it comes to the type of cloud computing, there are basically three most known:
- Public cloud;
- Private cloud;
- Hybrid cloud.
Each of them has different characteristics and it’s dedicated to certain customers.
The public cloud is one type of cloud computing. In this case, the user relies on external cloud providers to offer data storage or processing power. In this case, all service-related work is on the side of the service provider. Among the most significant problems in the case of a public cloud is the limited lack of individualisation of tools. The company pays for this “how much” it uses a cloud. So the entrepreneur does not have to worry about initial cost (like buying servers, paying It administrators and so on). Thanks to the economies of scale, this is a very cost-effective method of conducting IT operations. This type of cloud is shared between all it users.
Private cloud is different in that only specific users can use it. As a rule, it is simply owned by one company/organisation and used by its employees. Such a solution allows for greater control of cloud usage and data security. Companies need their own IT infrastructure for this. Here too, the cloud environment can be adapted to the needs of the organization, but this can be time-consuming.
A hybrid cloud is a combination of public and private clouds. It consists in the fact that an organization can use the computing power of a public cloud and at the same time use private ones for greater data security.
Sometimes you can also encounter other (less common) cloud computing types. Among them we can distinguish for example:
This term is often mistaken for the same as a hybrid cloud. Multi cloud is an environment that is based on several clouds. This is because an organization uses several cloud providers. They can be related, but they don’t have to. They can be all public, all private or they can be combination of both public and private clouds.
Another example of cloud computing is community cloud, in which the cloud is shared between several specific organisations (or employees). Such a cloud may only make sense for companies that share a same mission or have same security requirements.
When discussing cloud computing, it is worth noting the models of services in the cloud. Very often they are presented in the form of a pyramid.
This way of presentation reflects very well the relationship between them and how large the area they cover.
It can be said that the higher the model in the pyramid’s scheme is, the less IT skills you need to have (the number of activities you manage is decreasing).
SaaS is a field in which end users work.
PaaS is a field in which developers work.
IaaS is the field in which the IT administrators work.
But what do these terms actually mean?
Cloud computing models:
- IaaS (Infrastructure as a service)
IaaS is the widest type. By breaking down this acronym into parts, it is worth understanding what “Infrastructure” means in this case. As the name indicates, in this case the client is provided with the IT infrastructure. This means that the client receives:
This means that as a customer, instead of buying servers and hardware, you „rent” them from an external provider in a virtual form. The customer uses his programs and applications, which are located on the vendor servers by using their processing power.
As far as payment models are concerned, there are several, but among them the most popular will be the pay-as-you-go model. The user pays for the time of use (hours, weeks, etc.) and/or the place used (for the size of files).
IaaS providers are for example:
- Amazon AWS;
- Microsoft Azure;
- Rackspace Open Cloud;
- Google Compute Engine;
- HP Enterprise Converged Infrastructure;
- IBM SmartCloud Enterprise.
- PaaS (Platform as a Service)
As far as the PaaS model is concerned, the key word is here: “Platform”. This model is especially aimed at programmers for software development, testing, etc., because the vendor provides tools on which they can work. The vendor will provide tools on which they can work. The vendor take responsibilities, for example, for security, software providing and creating backups.
The vendor provides here the so-called development environment, which can reduce the working time of developers. The tools offered to companies usually include also a business analytics services or monitoring.
PaaS is also ideal for working on a single product by people from different places/time zones, as the environment is accessible via the internet.
- Oracle Cloud Platform;
- Google App Engine;
- Microsoft Azure;
- Salesforce aPaaS;
- Red Hat OpenShift PaaS;
- Mendix aPaaS;
- SAP Cloud Platform.
- SaaS (Software as a Service)
SaaS is the highest level on the pyramid when it comes to cloud models, which means that it requires a basic level of IT skills from the user. It is very common and you probably used it many times without even realizing it. You use Google sheets? You used SaaS. In this case, as a customer, you are provided with everything from the vendor and you don’t have to worry about IT operations. This means that you don’t have to manage the software (you don’t have to install or update it), it’s in the cloud that you can access with your browser or make backups etc. All this work will be done for you by your provider.
As a rule, payments work here in a subscription model (you pay for the service on a monthly basis), some can be free of charge (free in limited functionality).
- Microsoft (for example Office 365);
- Adobe Creative Cloud;
- Google G Suite;
Besides these three best-known types, there are a few others, less frequently listed. It is important to remember that you can combine these models with each other.
Image 1 „Cloud Services Control Comparison”
Above is an example of such a chart, which can be found on the Digital Skynet blog. It shows very well the division of roles in the different models.
It is also possible to come across a description of these models on the example of restaurant operation or car.
IBM Cloud released a video on YouTube in which Tessa Rodes, explains these models using the example of a car.
IaaS is presented as leasing the car. This means that by choosing this car (IaaS) we do much more in-depth research, we are interested in what car has performance, what colour it has, comfort of use and much more. You drive the car and you pay for fuel and repairs.
PaaS is presented as car rental. You don’t do that much of a research, you’re not so interested in performance, but you’re still the driver and you pay for fuel.
SaaS is presented as a taxi. You don’t care what kind of car it is, what colour, performance. Moreover, you are not the driver and you do not pay for fuel (this is included in the price of the service).
The essence presented in this way by means of an example is a good way to better understand the specifics of these models.
In addition to the previously mentioned, there are also other less popular cloud computing models:
- BMaaS (Bare metal as a Service)
In this case, customers will receive physical servers and can use them in an unlimited manner. They can use any operating system and install their own applications and hypervisors* to create their own virtual machines.
Payments for this cloud are usually monthly.
- MBaaS (Mobile backend as a service)
It is a model very similar to SaaS, but it is aimed at creating and testing mobile applications, by providing an infrastructure that supports the work of developers aimed at creating mobile applications. Therefore, it is recommended for companies / start-ups that specialize in this field.
You can still come across models like:
- CaaS (Content as a service) / MCaaS (manager content as a service);
- FaaS (Function as a service);
- DaaS (Data as a service);
- NaaS (Network as a service);
- SECaaS (Security as a service).
[nextpage title=”The future of Cloud computing”]
In order to be able to fully discuss what awaits us in the future and what technologies we can expect when it comes to the development of cloud computing, it is worth to start by learning a very short history of this technology so that you can understand the process of change that is currently taking place.
In order to understand the idea of cloud computing well, it is also worthwhile to introduce a little bit of its history.
We will start the story in 1996, although the history began much earlier, because the origin of this technology can be found as early as in the 60s of the last century, which is related to Licklider’s vision of “intergalactic computer network” or the history of IBM (virtualisation operating systems). Our history, however, is much better to begin in the 90s, because this is where the first steps closely related to the concept of cloud computing begin.
In short, we will present here some selected events that influence how cloud computing looks today.
1996 – The term “cloud computing” was used for the first time.
The term is used for the first time this year in an internal document of Compaq company, which presents possible technologies, including cloud storage. A year later this term was used by Ramanth Chellappa (a professor at the University of Texas) and he is often cited as an author of the definition of this technology.
1999 – SalesForce launches Salesforce.com
This is considered to be one of the major steps in developing this technology. SalesForce launches Salesforce.com and become a leader in delivering SaaS service solutions.
2002 – Amazon Web Services is created
The current leader in the market for cloud services was created in 2002 with the idea of providing services in a form where customers pay only for what they use. At the beginning, the service was fully free of charge.
2007 – A Dropbox is created
In 2007, Dropbox is being created and provides a storage service (the hosting service was called SpiderOak and allowed for online backups or cloud-based data sharing) for companies and individuals.
Over the next few years, other large platforms such as Google App Engine (2008), Microsoft Azure (2010), free Openstack platform (2010) and finally IBM SmartCloud (2011) were created.
Cloud computing is still a relatively new technology and we can only now see that it is becoming more widely known to people that are not involved in IT sector. There is certainly a lot to achieve in the future, but already the numbers show how important this technology will be for development.
The cloud computing technology is called the technology of the future and it has a market value of over 266 billion dollars in 2019 and is expected to grow by 14.9% to 2027 (CARG -Compound Annual Growth Rate). Among the factors that are mentioned as those that can have an biggest impact on the development of this technology are often:
- Internet of Things (IoT)
- Edge computing
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Machine Learning (ML)
IoT and Cloud computing can work together to produce significant benefits. Cloud computing in this purpose will be a place to collect huge databases that can later be analysed by IoT. Thanks to the high performance of cloud computing, it will be possible to get the results of, for example, analytical processes much faster.
Great potential for cloud computing development is also depend on 5G technology. It is extremely important because it provides incomparably more connections per km2 than its predecessor (LTE). The communication possibilities that are thus emerging are in line with Smart City idea.
A report prepared by RightScale shows that 81% of companies that employ more than 1000 employees have multi-platform strategy. This figure is projected to rise to 90 percentage points in 2024.
But undoubtedly this technology is developing at an incredible pace. Among the current trends in the development of it can be mentioned, for example, containerization, which involves dividing the application into parts (each piece of code is responsible for some specific function of the application, for example), which affects the quality and speed of work of the developers.
Among the possibilities that cloud computing will offer in the future, there is often mention ability for playing in the cloud. This would be a beneficial solution for many players who need to constantly update their hardware, which is a very expensive process, to be able to play new game titles. Although the first systems are already up and running, they are still far from perfect.
Another high-profile topic related to the future of the cloud is moving businesses to it. Businesses are increasingly using these solutions (especially those offered by hybrid clouds) and are moving their infrastructure to the cloud.
Cloud computing affects Industry 4.0 on many levels. Although this technology is still developing and is only beginning to change the way companies work, its positive effect is already being emphasized more and more often. Usually, when discussing its recommendations, it is emphasized how important this technology is for the development of AI and robotics. For both these technologies, cloud computing seems to be the foundation. An undoubted advantage of cloud is also the fact that it affects businesses of almost every type and size. Among the indicators of global success of Industry 4.0 it can be find information that the success (of I4.0) depends on the development of small and medium enterprises and their innovative capacity.
Cloud has many applications in Industry 4.0, including its contribution to planning and identifying trends through analysis of collected data. It’s contribution is to help optimize and improve processes, which will allow companies to better and faster response to changes. Under this idea you can also come across the concept of cloud manufacturing.
CMfg (cloud manufacturing) is a process that is designed to virtualise production and its processes and make information about them available for use. Thanks to this, data can be viewed and analyzed from any place. Cloud computing plays a very important role in this model and it is strongly supported by virtualization and IoT.
The future of cloud computing is exciting but also uncertain. Some people are saying it will end with the advent of edge computing (which is not true, there are many reasons to use both, there is no competition between these technologies). However, the development of the cloud is certainly closely related to the previously mentioned technologies such as IoT, machine learning or 5G. It is worth following new information because the revolution that cloud computing brings is big, and there are still countries in Europe that do not use its potential.
In their book, John W. Rittinghouse and James F. Ransome wrote that the biggest challenges facing companies willing to use / already using cloud computing are standardization, ensuring data security and fast Internet access. Although technology development has already eliminated / reduced few of the challenges, some of them remained the same (as in the case of security). What challenges are we currently facing when it comes to cloud computing?
The first challenges that cloud computing invariably faces is security.
There is a report on cloud security called Cloud Security Report, which perfectly presents the concerns that cyber security professionals have about this technology. It shows that the biggest threat in cloud computing is misconfiguration of cloud platforms, and inappropriate control of access to data.
Among the concerns that Cybersecurity professionals mention are data loss, data leakage, privacy and confidentiality violations. In this study, as many as 90% of the respondents indicated that they have concerns about cloud computing security.
Another of the challenges that are mentioned in connection with the development of cloud computing is still a big lack of understanding of what cloud computing is, but also a lack of understanding of how to move the business to the cloud. This is particularly evident in the data provided by Eurostat, which shows how the number of businesses in European countries that use cloud computing services is currently presented in percentage terms. The statistics from this study show that in 2018, 26% of businesses in the EU used cloud computing (mainly for storing files and hosting email system). It’s still a small number. And although there are countries such as Finland (65.3%), Sweden (57.2%) or Denmark (55.6%), the average (26.2%) is still a small result.
Another challenge cloud computing faces, especially nowadays, is managing multiple clouds at once. Hybrid and multi-cloud structures are popular and most commonly used by enterprises, but along with this there are problems with how to manage such clouds effectively. A related challenge is also the problem of building a private cloud faced by IT administrators in a company.
Of course, there are many more challenges. People who are developing this technology are dealing with some and more appear in the meantime. However, it is worth noting that using the cloud is safe and you shouldn’t be worry of using it (as long as you take precautions).
[nextpage title=”Most popular cloud providers”]
There are a lot of cloud computing providers, but in this part we will focused on three:
- Microsoft Azure;
- Amazon Web Services;
- Google Cloud.
The first of the presented cloud computing platforms is Microsoft Azure, which provides various resources and services. To use them you must have access to the Internet and you need to create an account on the platform. The registration on the platform is free of charge but there is a pay-per use model that allows you to purchase certain services. There are more than 200 products offered on the platform. The services and products provided by this platform include both free of charge and paid ones. Among them you can find:
- Compute (Virtual Machines, App Service, Cloud Services, API Apps, …);
- Storage (Storage Accounts, Azure Backup, Disk Storage, Data Box, …);
- Databases (Azure API for FHIR, Azure SQL Database, Azure Cosmos DB, …);
- Networking (Content Delivery Network, Azure ExpressRoute, Virtual Network, …);
- Mobile (App Service, Web Apps, API Apps, Azure Maps, …);
- Developer Tools (Visual Studio, App Configuration, Azure Lab Services …);
- And many more.
Microsoft Azure also emphasizes the fact that its services are used by as many as ninety percent of Fortune 500 companies, which is certainly a measure of quality and trusts.
Another popular platform offering cloud solutions is Amazon Web Services. The platform was launched in 2006. Currently is the biggest provider of cloud services in the world. One of the reason of its popularity can be the fact that AWS have the biggest network of data centres in the world and a huge number of a offered services. Products offered by AWS are:
- Analytics (Amazon Athena; Amazon CloudSearch, AWS Data Exchange, AWS QuickSight, …);
- Compute (Amazon EC2, AWS Batch, AWS Serverless Application Repository, …);
- Storage (Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS), …);
- Mobile (AWS Amplify, Amazon API Gateway, Amazon Pinpoint, …);
- Developer Tools (Amazon Corretto, AWS CodeBuild, AWS X-Ray, …);
- Database (Amazon Aurora, Amazon Neptune , AWS Database Migration Service, …);
- And many more.
The list of products offered by AWS is impressive, it is definitely one of the leaders in terms of the number of solutions offered, currently it offers over 175 services.
The biggest cons of the AWS is probably it’s payment model, which is not entirely transparent. Among the other disadvantages of AWS, it is often mentioned that it is not the easiest platform to use and the number of the services offered can be overwhelming.
The last of the platforms presented is Google Cloud Platform. It was created in 2008. One of Google’s achievements was developing the Kubernetes standard (now AWS and Azure also offering it). Compared to previous platforms, Google offers far less features and products, but its focused on high compute (Big Data, machine learning). The fact that it is still chasing Azure and AWS may also be due to the fact that it entered the IaaS market quite late.
- Storage (Cloud Storage, Filestore, Persisten Disk, …) ;
- Compute (Compute/App Engine, Bare Metal, Cloud GPUs, Preemptible VMs, …);
- Databases (Cloud Bigtable, Cloud SQL, Memorystore, …);
- Networking (Cloud Armor, Cloud CDN, Cloud DNS, Virtual Private Cloud, …);
- Developer Tools (Cloud SDK, Tools for Eclipse, Cloud Build, Cloud Code, …);
- And many more.
- Alibaba Cloud
Cloud computing is a technology that is gaining more and more supporters. Its development support growth of many other technologies, but it is also dependent on the development of other. Nevertheless, the growth of it is very high, but there are still countries in Europe where companies only benefit from its advantages to a small extent. That is why it is so important to educate and present cloud computing to a wider audience, business owners and entrepreneurs. Although it is (cloud computing) not yet perfect, it is already changing our world and allowing us to optimize processes or reduce financial outlays. The opportunities that this technology brings can allow businesses to achieve many concrete benefits, which is particularly important for their management.
- It may be a good idea to start by looking at the video section under “Additional resources”.
- Visit the examples of platforms mentioned in the text and see what they offer.
- Try to find examples of cloud computing in your daily life.
- Learn more about IoT (Internet of Thing) and understand how cloud computing technology influences its development.
- Try searching for companies that use cloud computing in your area.
- Try to find application for this technology in your work / hobby.
- Look for free services in the cloud computing you can use.
- Learn about other Industry 4.0 technologies and try to figure out how cloud computing affects them.
[nextpage title=”Additional resources”]
If you want to learn more about cloud computing, please see our list of additional resources:
|What is Cloud Computing||https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dH0yz-Osy54&t=|
|Public Cloud Explained||https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaCyfQ7luVY|
|Hybrid Cloud Explained||https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kGFBBy3Lyg&list=PLOspHqNVtKAC-_ZAGresP-i0okHe5FjcJ&index=10|
|Public Cloud vs Private Cloud vs Hybrid Cloud||https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WIJ4axzFlU|
|Cloud computing, public, private or hybrid||https://bbvaopen4u.com/en/actualidad/cloud-computing-public-private-or-hybrid-infographic|
|A simple guide to Cloud Computing||https://www.nebula.co.za/2017/06/12/a-simple-guide-to-cloud-computing-infographic/|
|What is cloud computing?||https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/overview/what-is-cloud-computing/|
|What Is Cloud Computing?||https://www.pcmag.com/news/what-is-cloud-computing|
|The Ultimate Guide To Cloud Computing Technology||https://www.netsolutions.com/insights/what-is-cloud-computing/|
|Cloud computing – from private, public and hybrid cloud to cloud services and cloud evolutions||https://www.i-scoop.eu/cloud-computing/|
[nextpage title=”Final quiz”]