The physical infrastructure. Initially, the grid computing was developed

Topic: EconomicsMacroeconomics
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Last updated: December 5, 2019

The computer technologyhas experienced remarkable revolutions since the first generation computers inthe mid-20th century (Freed and Ishida, 1995).

Recent innovationshave shown that data can be processed and shared on virtual platforms courtesyof cloud computing. Other than accessing data on virtual servers, cloudtechnology enables individuals and firms to store data and information invirtual safe reserves for retrieval purposes when need be. This technology isreviewed extensively from a number of perspectives with a view to understandingits scope and usefulness in our contemporary society.      LiteratureReviewDefinitionof cloud computingKumar and Goudar (2012)state that cloud computing is a new phenomenon which involves development ofparallel computing, a grid of distributed computing, and evolution of software,utility computing, and virtualisation.

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The concept of cloud is metaphoricalbecause it describes web as a “space where computing has been pre-installed andexist as a service” (p.356). Essentially, operating systems, storage,applications, and processing power function interactively to share data on theweb. Kim (2009) gives a terse working definition of cloud computing as theability to access data, files, services, and programs with the help of a webbrowser via the internet hosted by a third party provided. However, the saidservices are charged.

The US National Institute of Standards and Technology(NIST) defines computing as a model for enabling convenient, universal,on-demand access to a shared network of configurable computing accessories suchas servers, applications, storage, services, and networks. These computing resourcescan be released and availed rapidly with less service provider interaction andmanagement effort.        Theadvent of cloud computing After the main frame computer era, it becamepossible to use virtualisation software where one or more operating systemswould be executed in an isolated environment. In the late 20th century,telecommunication companies began offering virtual private network connectionsusers were provided with shared access to a physical infrastructure. Initially,the grid computing was developed to solve large glitches with parallelcomputing; utility computing offered computing resources as a metered service;network-based subscriptions to application (SaaS), and cloud computing whichenabled access to IT resources anytime and anywhere delivered dynamically butas a service. Oludele et al. (2014) state that mainframe users in the 1970sexperienced the initial implementation of symmetric processing andvirtualisation where multiple users could use resources of a single computer inexecuting different processes simultaneously.    Thecharacteristics, service, and deployment models of cloud computingCloud computing is anon-demand self-service where consumers can unilaterally utilise computingfunctions such as network storage and server time without requiring anyinteraction with the service providers.

Cloud computing is also characterisedby the availability of a broad network access which allows thin and/or thickclients to use the configurable resources. A lot of capabilities are availableover the network and can be accessed via standard mechanisms. Service providedhave to pool their computing resources to allow access by multiple consumes (incase of a multi-tenant model). Normally, virtual and physical resources aredynamically allocated and reallocated depending on the consumer demand.Notably, the customer does not have the control over the exact location of theresources because it is located independently. Usage of cloud resources is rapidlyelastic commensurate to inwards and outwards demand.

More so, cloud computingservices are measured through a metering provision at certain levels of dataconsumed and the type of service utilised. The cloud system automaticallyoptimises and controls resource use through the metering capability. Ideally,resource usage can be controlled, monitored, and reported which providestransparency for the user and service provider.  There are three service models offered in thistechnology namely software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (Paas), andinfrastructure as a service (IaaS) (Mell and Grance, 2011). Users are given theopportunity to use applications available on a cloud infrastructure.

It ispossible to access the applications using the clients’ devices through aprogram interface or a web browser. This particular model does not allow usersto control or manage the cloud infrastructure including applicationcapabilities, servers, network, storage, and OS. However, there areuser-specific configuration settings for the provided applications. Platform asa service (PaaS) enables consumers to deploy consumer-developed or acquiredapplications (created through programming tools, services, libraries, andlanguage) onto the cloud infrastructure. It is worth noting that theprogramming resources are supported by the service provider. Contrary to IaaS, consumershave a bigger stake in managing and controlling the developed applications andconfiguration settings for the “application-hosting environment” (p.

3). Thelast service model is IaaS and this gives consumers an autonomy to usecomputing resources complemented with possibilities of developing and runningarbitrary software (including operating systems and applications). Just likethe other two aforementioned service models, IaaS does not allow consumers tomanage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure. However, they havecontrol over deployed applications, storage, and application systems.

There isa possibly limited control of choosing network accessories such as hostfirewalls. The cloud infrastructurecan be deployed in a number of ways. One way is to provide the cloudinfrastructure through private means (private cloud) to single largeorganisations with multiple consumers for use. These organisations, a thirdparty, or a combination of the two can own, manage, and operate the infrastructure.The community cloud is made available for exclusive use by a specific cliché ofconsumers from organisations that share the same concerns like securityrequirements, compliance, mission, and policy. One or more organisations, athird party, or a combination of the two can own, manager, and operate theinfrastructure which are either on or off the premises. A public cloud isavailed for use by the general public and can be owned by the government,academic, or business organisation and exists within the premises of theprovider. Lastly, a hybrid cloud combines two or more cloud infrastructuressuch as private, community, or public which are considered as unique entitiesthough are regulated by proprietary or standardised technology that makes dataand application portability possible.

           Useof cloud computing as a complement Use of a cloudinfrastructure may be informed by the organisation or community’s decision toallow multiple-users access, share, and process information simultaneously especiallywhere the conventional computing system is hard to utilise. For example,government or academic organisations have a huge number of consumers, largedata to mine, and high demand which creates a suitable environment for cloudcomputing. One important function of cloud computing as a complementary systemis data storage. Rao (2014) intuits that, “Data backups and cloud computing canbe treated as two separate subjects in one context and can be considered ascomplementary in another context” (p. 263). A relatively recent phenomenon,cloud computing assists in effective data storage besides being a low-costoption in disaster recovery. In case a consumer or organisation loses data,cloud data back-ups come in handy to assist in recovery and restoration ofdata. Data backups are informed by the fact that physical hard disks are proneto failures and damages leading to a single point of failure.

Cloud data backupensures continued operation because of effective data restoration and thisensures continued availability of systems in the period that systems have to berestored.   Whyuse cloud computingThere are a number of positive attributesattached to cloud computing systems. First, the ability of multiple-usersaccessing information simultaneously makes it possible for many processes to berun conveniently. It implies that many users can utilise the services of thethird party on the cloud infrastructure besides the convention computingresources within the organisation.

Cloud infrastructure serving bigorganisations like government institutions, schools, hospitals, and privateorganisations can harbour large data as a means of back up. Large memory sizedhard disks that are costly may be required to store a comparable size of data.Consumers utilising the IaaS model have the capability of developingapplications and software to meet present needs and which can be redeveloped tocater for new needs that are arising. Such a cloud infrastructure ensuresflexible access to the most recent software and applications but at a fee.

Cloudtechnology has minimised use of space especially where the infrastructure isnot within the premises. This is because the hardware and other computer resourcesrequired in a conventional workstation set-up is not needed.  Conversely, cloudinfrastructure has shortcomings that may discourage users either during firstexperience or in the course of using it. Some deployment models such ascommunity, public, and hybrid clouds subject data to possibility of breach thuslack of confidentiality and privacy. For instance, malicious consumers that areusing the PaaS and IaaS models in a public or community cloud can decide tocreate software or applications that may harm the stored data until theircertain demands are met. Hackers located in virtual places can decide tocorrupt or destroy the data available unless a very strong protection system isin place.

It is worth noting that cloud technology works well where theinternet connection is strong and this calls for some investment in the initialset-up of the infrastructure. Notably, developing nations are yet to realisethe benefits of cloud computing because the internet connectivity andnetworking infrastructure is very poor. Consumers using models such as SaaS andPaaS have limited control of the applications in the cloud infrastructure hencecannot make any improvements in line with new dynamics they are experiencing.If the third party service providers do not update their services andapplications to cope with new challenges, then consumers shy away from suchplatforms.   

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