Cloud computing can be defined as the online delivery of computing services, including tools and applications such as data storage, networking, processing power, databases, software, and servers. Instead of storing data on a local device, could-based storage offers storage on remote databases that have enhanced security and larger capacities. In the past two decades, the use of cloud computing has increased immensely because of its many benefits.
They include cost savings, speed and efficiency, large storage capacities, advanced security capabilities due to data encryption, and increased productivity and performance. Providers of cloud computing services allow companies and individuals to use their infrastructure at a price, instead of spending millions of dollars creating their own information technology (IT) infrastructure. The convenience of cloud computing is worth the potential for major data breaches because of its numerous benefits: speed, agility, cost savings, elasticity, and reliability.
Cloud Computing and how it Works
As mentioned earlier, cloud computing is the online delivery of information technology resources such as databases, storage, servers, and networking power. Instead of organizations developing and maintaining their own infrastructure which can be expensive, they pay for the use of the infrastructure of cloud providers based on their specific needs (Attaran, 2017). Both small and big businesses in all economic sectors are using the cloud to back up their data, develop and test software, develop web applications, and data analytics. There are three main deployment models: private cloud, public cloud, and hybrid cloud (Harkut, 2019).
A private cloud is a cloud infrastructure that provides services to private companies, usually on a private network. A public cloud is usually operated on the internet and they are usually run by third-party firms (Attaran, 2017). Hybrid clouds incorporate aspects of both public and private clouds in a manner that enhances flexibility and improves security.
Types of Cloud Computing
There are three main types of cloud computing, namely software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). This system comprises of the three services that operate differently based on the levels of flexibility, management, and flexibility that they offer to users. IaaS is the main component of cloud IT because it provides access to data storage space and computers as well as networking features (Harkut, 2019). PaaS is the cloud’s function that offers users a platform for the development of software applications that are offered online (Murugesan & Bojanova, 2016). A famous example of PaaS is salesforce.com. SaaS offers consumers access to the cloud provider’s databases and application software without any involvement in the management of the cloud infrastructure.
Origins of Cloud Computing
The history of cloud computing can be traced back to the 1960s, even though it became mainstream in the 2000s. In 1963, a program commissioned by a defense agency (DARPA) involved the development of a technology that would allow several users to access a computer at the same time. At the time, this concept was referred to as virtualization, and only two or three people could access it simultaneously (Murugesan & Bojanova, 2016).
In the 1970s, the concept of virtualization was developed further with the development of a machine that had an operating system and limited storage and communication capabilities. The advent of the internet created opportunities for businesses to begin offering private networks to users virtually (Harkut, 2019). The modern concept of cloud computing was developed from the increased use of virtual computers. Salesforce was one of the earliest companies to use cloud computing successfully in its business operations for the delivery of software programs to their customers.
The Pros and Cons of Cloud Computing
The main advantages of cloud computing include agility, elasticity, cost savings, speed, and reliability. Through cloud computing, people can access a wide range of technologies and software applications that they can use for their own innovations (Marinescu, 2016). It is possible for users to experiment and test their new ideas that can be used to grow their businesses. The deployment of technology services is fast, thus speeding up the process of bringing ideas into reality (Nayyar, 2019). Cloud computing is elastic; business owners can scale their resources upwards or downwards in ways that can handle the prevailing levels of business activities (Marinescu, 2016).
The development of IT infrastructure is very expensive because of the need to spend money on data centers and servers. However, with the use of cloud computing, these expenses are avoided because they can pay for cloud services from a cloud service provider on an as-needed basis. Finally, the cloud offers businesses the opportunity to expand globally through the deployment of applications to different geographical locations within a short time (Nayyar, 2019). The reduction of latency is possible because many cloud service providers have IT infrastructure in different parts of the globe. Cloud computing is also reliable and easy to access, making it a perfect fit for many businesses.
The main disadvantages of cloud computing include security issues, limited control of infrastructure, internet speed, and limited flexibility. The security of data is usually compromised because the public cloud, which is awash with cybercriminals, uses the internet to grant access (Alani, 2016). Access to cloud services is only possible with a fast internet connection. Therefore, users in areas with unreliable internet connections encounter numerous challenges (Nayyar, 2019).
In many cases, the absence of reliable internet leads to downtime that can have detrimental financial implications on businesses. Users of the cloud have limited control because the IT infrastructure is owned by the service provider (Marinescu, 2016). Moreover, they’re limited flexibility because the use of certain functions is highly restricted (Srivastava & Khan, 2018). Finally, vendor lock-in renders the process of shifting from one vendor to another very difficult because of compatibility and interoperability issues.
Proponents of Cloud Computing
The major proponents of cloud computing include technology companies, small and large businesses, and organizations that deal with complex data. In addition, government agencies and service companies that store consumer information, also use cloud computing (Surianarayanan & Chelliah, 2019). The top five cloud-computing service providers are Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Alibaba, and IBM. Others include Oracle, ServiceNow, Salesforce, SAP Workday, Google, and VMware.
Encryption, Storage, and Breaches
Cloud computing service providers use various methods to encrypt data: symmetric encryption and asymmetric encryption. Symmetric encryption involves the use of a common key by a sender and a receiver for data decryption. This method improves data security by denying access to third parties (Alani, 2016). Asymmetric encryption involves the use of two keys (public and private), one for encryption and the other for decryption. These methods utilize different encryption algorithms: the advanced encryption standards (AES), triple data encryption standards (Triple DES), RSA, Twofish, Blowfish, and Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA) (Surianarayanan & Chelliah, 2019).
Cloud storage is a model that is applied in cloud computing to store data online; its benefits include agility, ease of access from any geographical location, and the eradication of the need to develop individual infrastructure (Deshpande et al, 2019). Cloud service providers make data available to consumers by managing the security and capacity on their databases. There are three main types of cloud storage: object storage, file storage, and block storage (Deshpande et al, 2019).
Examples include Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), Amazon Elastic File System (EFS), and Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS). Examples of free cloud storage are Google Drive, Dropbox, MediaFire, OneDrive, and pCloud (Srivastava & Khan, 2018). Data breaches are the most common challenges that cloud users face (Kumar et al, 2018). They are usually caused by misconfigurations of security safeguards and procedures (Alani, 2016). Microsoft, Dropbox, National Electoral Institute of Mexico, LinkedIn, Home Depot, Yahoo, and Apple iCloud are examples of organizations that have suffered serious data breaches.
Cloud computing dates back to the 1960s, even though it gained widespread acceptance in the 2000s. It refers to the online delivery of computing services, including tools and applications such as data storage, networking, processing power, databases, software, and servers. Its benefits include cost savings, agility, elasticity, speed and reliability. Disadvantages include security issues, limited control and flexibility, and the need for high-speed broadband internet. It is divided into three types, namely software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). Major cloud-computing service providers are Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Alibaba, IBM, SAP, and Salesforce.
Cloud encryption is achieved in two main ways, namely symmetric encryption and asymmetric encryption. Symmetric encryption uses a single key while asymmetric encryption utilizes two keys; one for encryption and the other for decryption. Data breaches are the most common security challenge that cloud users encounter. Microsoft, Apple iCloud, Yahoo, Home Depot, and LinkedIn have also suffered data breaches. The convenience of cloud computing is worth the potential for major data breaches because of its numerous benefits: speed, agility, cost savings, elasticity, and reliability.
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