The expression cloud computing has started to gain strength in 2008, but, conceptually, the ideas behind the heading there are there are a lot more time. Also known in Brazil as computing clouds or cloud computing, the cloud computing if refers, essentially, to the notion of use, in any place and platform-independent, the most varied applications by means of the Internet with the same ease of have them installed on local computers.
But what exactly does that mean? For that the concept is so important today? What are the benefits? There are risks associated with it? With simple language and approach introductory, this text answers these and other related questions.
Understanding the cloud computing
We used to store files and data of varied kinds and the application use way on premise, this it is, installed in our own computers or devices. In corporate environments, this scenario changes a little: it is relatively common for companies to use applications available on servers that can be accessed by any terminal authorized.
The main advantage of the on premise is in fact to be possible, at least most of the times, use the applications even without access to the Internet or the local area network. In other words, it is possible to use these resources in an offline manner.
On the other hand, in the model, on premise, all data generated are restricted to a single equipment, except when there is share on the network, something that is not very common in the the household environment. Even in the corporate environment, this the practice can generate some limitations, such as the the need to have a license of certain software to each computer, for example.
The constant evolution of computing technology and of the telecommunications is doing with that access to the Internet becomes increasingly broad and fast. This the scenario that creates the perfect condition for the popularization of cloud computing, since it causes the the concept spread throughout the world.
With cloud computing, many applications, as well as files and other related data, no longer need to be installed or stored on the user’s computer or on a server next. This content shall be available in the clouds, that is, on the Internet.
The supplier of the application fits all of the tasks development, storage, maintenance, update, backup, scaling, etc. The user no need to worry with any of these aspects, only in to access and use.
A practical example of this new reality is the Office Online, the Microsoft service that gives access to basic editing features of texts, slide presentations, etc., completely online. All that the the user needs to do is create an account and use an Internet browser compatible, which is the case of the the majority of browsers today.
Characteristics of cloud computing
As already informed, one of the advantages of cloud computing it is the access to applications from the Internet, without these are installed on computers or devices specific. But, there are other benefits significant:
– In most cases, the user can access the applications independent of your operating system or equipment used;
– The user does not need to worry about the structure to run the application – hardware, backup procedures, safety control, maintenance, etc.;
– Sharing of information and collaborative work become more easy, because all users access the applications and data from the same place: the cloud;
– Depending on the provider, the user can count on high availability: if one server stops functioning, for example, the others that are part of the structure continue to offer the service;
– The user can count with better control of spending. Many applications in cloud computing are free of charge and, when it is necessary to pay, the user only the makes in relation to the resources that you use or at the time of use. It is not necessary, therefore, pay for a full license of use, such as it is done in the traditional model of providing software;
– Depending on the application, the user may need to to install a client program on your computer or device mobile. But, in these cases, the whole or the greater part of the processing (and even data storage) is on account of the “the clouds”.
Note that, independent of the application, with the cloud computing the user does not need to know all the the structure that is behind this, or is it not need to know how many servers are running a particular tool, which the hardware configurations used, such as the escalation is done, where is the physical location of the data center, anyway. What matter is to know that the application is available in the clouds.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Closely connected to cloud computing is the concept of Software as a Service (SaaS) or, in good Portuguese, Software as a Service. In its essence, it is a way of working in which the software is offered as a service, thus, the user does not need to acquire licenses use to install or even purchase computers or servers in order to run it. In this mode, at the maximum, you pay a periodic value – as if it were a subscription – only by the resources used and/or by time of use.
To better understand the benefits of SaaS, assume that a company they have 20 employees, you need a software to generate payroll. There are several ready-made solutions for this market, however, the company will have to buy licenses of use of the software chosen and, depending on the case, even hardware in order to run it. Many times, the price of the license or even of the equipment can result in high cost and is not compatible with the condition of small size of the company.
If, on the other hand, the company found a supplier of software for payroll that works with the SaaS model, the situation can stay more easy: this company may, for example, offer this service by means of cloud computing and charge only by the number of employees and/or by time of use. With this, the contractor pays a low value by the use of the application. In addition, hardware, installation, upgrade, maintenance, etc., are tasks that are for the account of the supplier.
It is also important to take into account that the interval between the hiring of service and the beginning of his use is extremely low, which does not what would happen if the software had to be installed on the computers of the client – this need only be concerned with the access to the service (in this case, a connection to the Internet) or, if necessary,with the simple installation of some minimum feature, as a plugin in the Internet browser of their machines.
Oracle, and HP are two examples of companies that offer solutions SaaS: HP SaaS; Oracle SaaS.
PaaS, DaaS, IaaS e TaaS
In the market there are also concepts derived from SaaS that are used by some companies to differentiate their services. They are:
– Platform as a Service (PaaS): Platform as a Service. This is a type of solution wider for certain applications, including all (or almost all) of the resources necessary for the operation, such as storage, database, scalability (increase auto capacity storage or processing), supports programming languages, security, and so forth;
– Database as a Service (Paas): Database-as-a-Service. The name already makes it clear that this modality is directed the provision of services for storage and access of volumes data. The advantage here is that the holder of the application the account with greater flexibility to expand the database, share the information with other systems, to facilitate the remote access by authorized users, etc.;
– Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Infrastructure as a Service. Similar to the concept of PaaS, but here the focus is on the structure hardware or virtual machines, with the user having including access to resources of the operating system;
– Testing as a Service (TaaS): Testing as a Service. Offers an appropriate environment so that the user can test applications and systems remotely, by simulating the behavior of these level run.
Examples of applications in cloud computing
The terms cloud computing and cloud computing are relatively recent, as you already know, but if you look well, we shall see that the idea is not necessarily new. Services e-mail, such as Gmail and Yahoo! Mail; “disks virtual” on the Internet, such as Dropbox or OneDrive; sites to store and share photos or videos, as Flickr and YouTube. All are examples of resources that, in a certain way, are within the concept of cloud computing.
Note that all mentioned services are not running on the computer user, but this can access them from any place, often without paying licenses software. At most, you pay a periodic value by the use of the service or for the hiring of additional resources, as greater data storage capacity, for example.
Below is a brief list of services that incorporate clearly the concept cloud computing:
– Google Apps: this is a package of services that Google offers that account with text editing applications, spreadsheets, and presentations, tool calendar, instant messaging integrated e-mail with your own domain (for example, [email protected]), etc.. All the features are processed by Google. The client needs only to create the accounts of users and make a few settings. Google Apps offers packages paid whose values vary according to the number of users;
– Amazon: the Amazon is one of the largest e-commerce services of the world. To support the volume of sales in the Christmas period the company set up a gigantic structure of processing and storage data that ended up getting idle most of the year. It was from there the company had the idea to “rent” those resources, an initiative that resulted in services such as Simple Storage Solution(S3) to data storage and Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) to the use of virtual machines;
– Netflix: service that gives you access to movies, series and documentaries from a small amount per month. It is not necessary to download productions, is all done by streaming. In addition addition, the user can watch each item in the collection how many times as you want and, if you terminate the playback of the video, you can continue later where you left off;
– Aprex: brazilian, Aprex offers a set of tools for professional use, such as calendar, contacts manager, tasks list, store files, blog, e-mail marketing, presentations, etc.. Everything is done by the Web and, in the case of enterprises, it is you can even insert the logo and change the default color of the pages;
– Evernote: service for creation and storage of notes and variety of information that works as a comprehensive database. Includes tools for sharing, editing, the organization and location of data.There are options of free accounts and paid.
Until now, we treat cloud computing as a system composed of two parts: the solution provider and the user, which can be a person, a company or any other organization. We can understand this context as a scheme public cloud. However, especially respect to the corporate segment, it is possible to also the use of what are known as private cloud.
From the point of view of the user, the private cloud (private cloud) offers virtually the same benefits of the cloud public. The difference is essentially in the “behind the scenes”: the equipment and systems used for constitute the cloud are within the infrastructure of the the corporation itself.
In other words, the company makes use of a particular cloud, built and maintained within their domains. But the the concept goes beyond that: the private cloud also considers the corporate culture, so that policies, goals and other aspects inherent to the activities of the company are respected.
The need for security and privacy is one of the reasons that lead an organization to adopt a private cloud. In third-party services, contractual terms and systems protection features are offered to avoid un authorized access or sharing data misuse. Even so, a company may have critical data by too much to allow that another company to respond for the protection and availability of your information. Or,so, the protection offered can simply not be enough. In situations like these is that the use of a private cloud adequate.
A private cloud can also offer the advantage of being “moulded” with precision to the needs of the company, especially in relation to large companies. This because the access to the cloud can be better controlled, as well as the the availability of resources can be directed to the most efficient way, look able to positively impact the routine corporate.
Companies such as Microsoft, IBM, and HP offer solutions for private clouds. Interested organizations must, however, tell with the professional or even expert advice on creation and maintenance of the cloud, after all, an implementation is poorly executed can interfere negatively on the business.
The costs of equipment, systems and professionals in the private cloud may be high in the beginning. On the other hand, the benefits obtained in the medium and long term, as wide availability, agile processes, and the already mentioned safety aspects will far outweigh the expenses, especially if the implementation is optimized with virtualization, standardization services and the like.
To the flexibility of operations and for even greater control over the costs, the organizations can also opt for the adoption of hybrid clouds. In them, certain applications are directed to the clouds public, while other, usually more critical, remain under the responsibility of its private cloud. There may be also features that work in local systems (on premise), complementing what is in the clouds.
Note that public and private clouds are not models are incompatible with each other. There is no need to open hand of one type to take advantage of the other. You can take advantage of the “best of both worlds”, reason for which the clouds hybrid (hybrid cloud) are a trend very strong in the corporations.
The implementation of a hybrid cloud can be done either to meet a continued demand how much to give account of a temporary need. For example, a the financial institution can integrate to your cloud private a public service able to meet a new requirement tax. Or, a network of shops you can adopt a hybrid solution for a short period to meet increasing sales in a holiday season.
It is clear that the effectiveness of a hybrid cloud depends on the quality of their implementation. Is necessary to consider aspects of security, monitoring, communication, training, etc..
This planning is important to assess even if the the hybrid solution is worth it. When the time necessary for the implementation is very large or when there are large volumes of data to be transferred to the public resources, for example, your use it may not be feasible.
Care to avoid problems
There is an immense amount of services in the clouds. In the middle corporate, there are options that meet small companies the companies which are among the most valuable in the world. Such diversity requires care to avoid the advantages if becoming prejudice or waste of resources.
One of these measures is the accurate assessment of needs, the contrary, an organization can hire services whose capacity is above the required, generating costs undue.
Another is the deactivation of resources engaged in the the right time. If a company uses services that charge by the time, for example, it is important to turn off the tool during periods in which there is no demand (as in holidays).
In this sense, if a company has a private cloud, you need monitor the consumption of resources to identify the situations in which the capacity of the structure can be diminished. If you do not do so, there will be equipment consuming resources like energy and bandwidth unnecessarily.
The contracting of services should also be well-examined. Not always the cheapest solution is the best. If users need a long time training or the service requiring migration to an Internet access plan with more capacity, for example, the additional costs may end up exceeding the budget.
These are just some of the care required. Depending on what is expected of the cloud computing model, other measures can be mandatory. In some cases, it may be convenient even hiring a company expert to advise on the choice and the implementation of a solution.
History of cloud computing
Cloud computing is not a concept clearly defined. We are not dealing with a turn-key technology that came out of the laboratories by the hands a group of researchers and was later released in the market. This characteristic makes it difficult to accurately identify its origin. But there are some evidence quite interesting.
One of them refers to the work developed by John McCarthy. The deceased in October 2011, the researcher was one of the leading names for behind the creation of what we know as artificial intelligence, with emphasis to the language Lisp, up to today it applied projects that use this concept.
In addition to this work, John McCarthy addressed a fairly important at the beginning of the 1960s:computing time-shared (time sharing), where a computer can be used simultaneously by two or more users to conduct certain tasks, taking especially the time interval idle between each process.
Note that, in this way, it is possible to take better advantage of the computer (at the time, a really expensive device) and a decrease in expenses, because the user only pays for the time of use of the equipment, for example. It is, in a way, an idea present in cloud computing.
Almost at the same time, the physicist Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider went down in history as one of the the pioneers of the Internet. This is because, as a part of the ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency), dealt with the task of finding other utilities for the computer that was not only to be a “powerful calculator”.
In this mission, Licklider ended up being one of the first to understand that computers could be used in a way connected, to allow communication globally and, consequently, the sharing of data. His work was crucial to the creation of the Intergalactic Computer Network, that later gave rise to the ARPANET, which time “opened the doors” to the Internet.
Although we can associate several technologies, concepts, and researchers to the subject, when we add the work of John McCarthy and J. C. R. Licklider can be a great help in the task of understanding the origin and evolution of cloud computing.
Why a cloud?
To consult books of networks, telecommunications and the like, note well: it is likely that you will encounter drawings clouds used for the purposes of abstraction. In this sense, the the illustration represents a network of some kind whose structure does not need to be known, at least not at that moment.
If the intention in a given chapter is explain how it works a technology of communication that connects two networks of computers, for example, is not necessary to detail the characteristics of each one of them. Thus, the author can use a cloud – abstraction – to indicate that there are networks there.
Computing in the clouds simply absorbed this idea, because the drawing of a cloud, in the same context abstraction, it also started to represent the Internet.
Any attempt to define what is cloud computing you can not be 100% accurate. The ideas behind the notion of cloud computing are very new and the opinions of experts in computing still diverge. But the notion basic is the that was exposed in the text.
It is clear that there is still much work to be done. By example, the simple idea of certain information be stored on computers of third parties (in this case, the service providers), even with the documents ensuring the privacy and confidentiality is a concern for people and, mainly, companies,the reason why this aspect needs to be better studied.
Any way, cloud computing is a path without return. The constant expansion of services access to the Internet and the advent of mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, smartwatches and the like) are opening up each time more space for the applications in the clouds – a concept depends on the other to generate value to users and organizations.