So you’ve just hired a new employee and you have to set them up for their first day. While they’re busy getting acclimated to the office, you’re busy getting your IT guy to set them up with their computer, login, and all the software they’re going to need. Except – hold the phone, for a moment. Do you have enough licenses for this particular software? And then you find out the software is long past it’s “best before” date and needs to be updated. Damn!
There’s an ingenious two word solution to this: cloud computing.
Cloud computing is the alternative to installing a suite of software directly on every computer resting on your network. Instead, users log in to a remote Web service that hosts the suite of programs needed. They can access it simply by connecting to the web-based service through one easily installed application or through their browser on the World Wide Web. Think about it: this is already used in email systems, when logging in, remotely, to systems like Gmail or Hotmail through the web rather than having a program such as Outlook or MacMail on your desktop. But also private cloud-services like owncloud use the concepts of cloud-computing.
This follows the very basic idea in programming known as the conservation of resources. In essence, the point is to be able to significantly reduce the amount of payout a process takes without affecting the end desired result. In this case, there is a considerable workload shift because it is not local computers that bear the brunt of hosting the software or running applications.
Instead, there exists, remotely, a network of computers whose collective resources form the “cloud” that then do all the heavy lifting. The demands on the user decrease which means an increase in speed and convenience, as long as all conditions are a-go on the side of the cloud, that is to say, the server side.
What you can achieve with cloud-computing
In theory, the cloud can handle anything from basic to complex data processing to high-quality gaming. This is formatted around the basic architecture which entails a front end (or user interface) and back end or the cloud portion of the system. Often times, the middle man handling all requests and administering the system is known as middleware, following its own set of specific protocols. Middleware also allows computers on a server to communicate with each other.
The golden effects of working in the cloud are significant. Streamlined updates, a reduction in hardware costs and space for physical servers and company-wide access to all applications are just a few. But, in some cases, the strengths of cloud computing are also its vulnerabilities. While users can access their data from any web-browser (depending on the interface and an Internet connection) in the world, this also makes their data open to security breaches and attacks since the data is not stored on a local hard drive. However, techniques such as authorization and authentication as well as security firewalls are solutions built into the architecture.