Cloud computing services have long since become mainstream owing to many advantageous attributes, yet adoption for specific business requirements is met with some reservations. This is very much understandable, as a wide variety of offerings can make business leaders and managers overwhelmed. Add to this a lack of scoping out requirements, and more confusion is bound to ensue, not to mention little awareness of cost-effective pricing models and security protocols.
Mainstream cloud vendors such as AWS cloud solutions offer everything under one umbrella; while this ensures businesses need not look elsewhere for meeting even the most niche of needs, deciding which exact service to use can still be a daunting endeavour. However, having a solid plan in place can help business teams make the right decision while being one that can be fostered into a long-term partnership.
At EFutures, we specialise in helping our clients adopt leading cloud technologies so that they can make the calibre of impact that serves their goals, while driving innovation and ease for their customer base. In this article, we shed light on the basics of cloud computing, plus insights on some key trends that dominate the digital landscape in general.
Cloud computing is a set of infrastructure and virtualized resources that are all stored and managed on data centres owned by a cloud services provider, and usually paid for with a pay-as-you-go pricing model.
Some key features and characteristics of cloud computing include:
Although cloud computing is widely popular today, it can be combined with conventional on-premise infrastructure to offer a combination of what businesses need to function optimally. Also known as hybrid cloud, such models can offer flexibility when a complete public cloud system may not be ideal. On the other hand, private cloud systems enable businesses to reserve cloud infrastructure only for their own use, as opposed to having it shared by default via the common public model.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) includes resources such as virtual machines, which are available for subscription-based use. This includes (but isn’t limited to) storage, network and servers for IT administration and application development use.
Platform as a Service (PaaS), as its name suggests, offers a virtualized platform for IT administrators and software developers to build, run and manage code. Leading PaaS solutions can also be highly intuitive, offering low-code capabilities to further streamline tasks for programmers.
However, PaaS can also extend over to other applications such as database management; Azure SQL Database, offered by Azure cloud solutions, is one such example, enabling users to automate data management with minimal manual intervention.
Software as a Service (SaaS) is most popularly known and recognised by end users as software that is readily purchased from a third-party vendor via a monthly or annual subscription. Requiring no heavy configuration, SaaS solutions have little to no implementation time and can be upgraded or downgraded as needed depending on business requirements.
Cost savings is a key benefit of cloud computing and one of the major reasons businesses have embraced the same in the first place. Offering pay-as-you-go pricing systems that only charge for resources that are used, even small businesses are able to adopt cloud computing as it is conveniently possible to never stray away from a pre-planned budget.
As resources are shared on the cloud, users are able to scale up or down as required, and with little or no technical intervention. Scalability makes cloud computing an extremely versatile investment for any business, as it offers the convenience to meet seasonal yet transient demands and incurs almost no downtime and extra costs associated with on-premise resources that are owned yet seldom used.
Software development teams are able to build, test and implement applications much faster on the cloud, owing to a plethora of services that streamline development, while also enabling faster adoption of any upcoming technologies. Microservices are a prime component of cloud-based software development, as each autonomous microservice can be replaced in case it is faulty, as opposed to monolithic software architecture where the entire application is affected in the likelihood of a bug.
Leading cloud service vendors guarantee maximum uptime for their infrastructure, so users can constantly access and stay connected from anywhere, and at any time. This makes cloud computing a choice prospect for digital businesses that need to constantly stay connected to their consumers online, especially in marketplaces that are fierce with competing brands and time is of the essence.
With the rise of applications such as ChatGPT, it’s no surprise that AI has turned into an intensely buzzworthy topic among every single individual, young and old alike. However, AI in cloud computing has long since been focused towards automating repetitive tasks and triggering actions upon identifying certain patterns and thresholds in data. AI and machine learning is also key component in bot training, be it for chatbots and conversational intelligence, or intuitive forecasting and analytics.
Embracing strong cybersecurity for your confidential business data is conveniently possible via cloud computing. As cloud service providers invest heavily in cyber protection to safeguard their customers’ sensitive data, businesses can be assured that their own data remains well protected in the cloud. From routine patches to granular access management, leading cloud vendors pay prime focus on keeping security perimeters well-guarded. Additionally, geo-redundancy (maintaining data centres in multiple locations for backup and recovery) further solidifies disaster recovery and enables business continuity in the wake of any data loss.
Gather relevant members from your organisation across the hierarchy to have a productive discussion about what is ailing your business from an operational standpoint. Allow team members to voice their concerns, so that you, as a business leader or manager, can get an unbiased lowdown on what needs to be fixed, as well as the implications of not doing so. Gather all these findings into a brief, which can then serve as a key point of reference for all parties involved in choosing the right cloud technologies for your business needs.
Reach out to vendors that specialise in what your business requires, and request for demos and quotes to understand the capabilities you can expect to receive, as well as how much you’ll need to spend in exchange. Make sure you have agreed to a budget beforehand, so your search is focused towards vendors and capabilities that can be aligned with what you can afford. Upon shortlisting and confirming, it is time to purchase and implement your new cloud-based server, instance or application, taking into consideration possible learning curves prior to getting up to speed.
Once your cloud-based resources are up and running, it is imperative to keep an eye on them, especially in the wake of demand fluctuations and a shift in resource requirements following business growth or downsizing. This shall help your business teams determine which direction to scale, so operations can continue sans any hiccups, and costs are kept predictable.
Cloud computing is a massive landscape that is now used for more than just mere data storage; it’s a hub for storing, building and maintaining entire business infrastructures from the ground up. Whether it’s utilising a PaaS solution for custom software development or popular SaaS software for managing tasks across a centralised console, cloud computing forms an indispensable base for all things digital in today’s day and age.
Trends such as AI further propel the potential that cloud computing harbours, as bot training and predictive analytics can be done over existing big data – even if it is unfiltered and raw. While this amplifies the scope of cloud computing, it does not compromise on benefits such as cost savings, scalability and security – all of which are still the prime reasons why businesses adopt cloud computing technologies in the first place.