Consumers and businesses alike are so dependent on cloud support services today, that it’s hard to imagine how life can ever progress without them. Whether it’s an online photo storage service, or social media, it’s safe to assume that we take the foundational technology for such services for granted. Software development in Sri Lanka, for example, has long since moved towards a cloud-based process, as a plethora of application development resources are now best accessible via the cloud. Just like numerous other destinations which are at the forefront of IT outsourcing, Sri Lanka features a variety of benefits to global businesses that are looking to save time and money, while amplifying quality quotients and talent pools.
Add to this the nature of today’s consumers; with an endless array of brands constantly following today’s users over the web, this bombardment is rendering more competition, and less conversions. In other words, grabbing the attention of your target customers with the right message, at the right place and at the right time is proving to be a challenge which seems to be getting complex by the day. With so much fierce competition, how are businesses to stand out? While many contemplate on enticing users with the right messaging, this needs to go much deeper – especially in consideration to today’s highly dynamic digital landscape.
With user demands constantly changing, businesses need to adapt – and fast. Time is of the essence, and being able to successfully scale up or down (in a cost-effective way, that too) depending on user demand can make all the difference between a versatile and resilient company – and its opposite. The ability to scale resources in such a way is facilitated by cloud computing. While the cloud is readily available for businesses both big and small, its sheer size and velocity can render any organization overwhelmed, and even spoilt for choice.
Therefore, how your organization decides to consume cloud services, when, where and why all need to be addressed as strategically as possible, for this will determine the overall success of cloud adoption in your company (as well as how well you are able to deploy resources at scale, subsequent to that). It’s no surprise that the global cloud computing market has been projected to grow at a whopping 445.3bn USD in 2021, with further projections hitting 947.3bn USD within the next 5 years.
In this article, we brush up on cloud 101. But before that, understanding the origins of cloud computing can help us understand what led to its eventual creation – and why. Read on to know more!
Although the first origins of cloud computing appear during the 1960s, the need to connect computers and offer multiple users access first emerged during the 1950s. The US military was looking for a way to do so, and at a time when computers cost millions of dollars, interconnectivity would prove to be a boon.
Fast forward to a decade or so later, and a computer scientist by the name of Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider (known as JCR in short) developed a concept to connect computers that would form a network – even on a global scale. What he developed was later extrapolated for use to develop the ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network). Also known as the predecessor to what is now known as the internet, ARPANET was spearheaded by technologists Bob Taylor and Larry Roberts.
The era of virtualization then began in the 1970s and beyond, with technology giants such as IBM offering virtual machines to businesses. The telecommunications industry further contributed towards improving the speeds and quality of what we call the internet today, while also delivering VPNs for mainstream use. Email was also invented during this time, as Ray Tomlinson successfully exchanged messages between users on different hosts in ARPANET.
Fast forward to 1996, and that’s when the term ‘cloud computing’ first appeared. It was mentioned in an internal document from Compaq (now defunct and acquired by HP). In 1999, SaaS was to be experienced for the very first time, as Salesforce delivered one of its products over its website. Following this pioneering move, numerous brands (especially the more tech-savvy ones) began to deliver their products and services via the web, as direct downloads. From movies and music, to popular video games, forgoing storage media in lieu of direct downloads was slowly beginning to take center stage.
Social media and blogging followed around the same time too. SixDegrees was the first social media platform to ever be created in 1997. It offered users the ability to create a profile, add other users they knew, and search for others via their friends’ lists. As for blogging, LiveJournal was a pioneering force in this space, as it allowed users to compose updates about their lives, and share with fellow followers.
It was during the mid-2000s that notable technology corporations such as Amazon, Google and IBM launched themselves as cloud computing providers. Now offering a variety of cloud-based services from under one roof, cloud computing providers today also strike dedicated partnerships with businesses (such as becoming an exclusive AWS partner, for example). This way, businesses need not always depend on multiple providers – and can source whatever they need, at any time, thanks to this partnership.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS enables organizations to obtain IT infrastructure – but without having to worry about purchasing physical equipment, renting dedicated space and hiring overheads to manage it all. From servers to virtual machines, IaaS offers a plethora of infrastructure for organizations to pick and choose from, in exchange for a fee. Simply utilize the resources virtually, while your cloud service provider hosts and maintains the infrastructure on your behalf.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
PaaS encompasses virtual environments which offer developers an entire toolkit of resources at their disposal, to build and maintain applications. This way, developers need not worry about configuring and integrating various resources needed for application development, from scratch.
While the cloud service vendor facilitates all necessities such as servers, storage, operating systems and middleware, developers are freed from the task of maintaining development environments, and can instead focus on key programming endeavors that demand their fullest attention.
Function as a Service (FaaS)
Similar to how a fully-fledged environment is required to build and maintain software applications, intricate resource pools are needed to also perform actions within applications, based on requests made. FaaS therefore enables trigger-based actions, but without the need to manage complex resources for the very same. Lambda from AWS is a good example of FaaS, as it facilitates actions for requests on an on-demand basis.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
This is the most common cloud type, which most of us are familiar with. From a movie streaming subscription to a free email service, SaaS comprises most solutions that are conveniently packaged and priced for maximum reach, while being available with a few taps or swipes. With month-to-month options available in the interest of economy, packages can also be purchased on an annual basis, usually with a discount.
Vendors often offer their products on a tiered basis. This means that your team can begin with the lowest tier, and scale up as and when needed.
The most common out of all cloud offerings, public cloud services offer resources which are shared by multiple users. Often available as a simple SaaS-based subscription, users can obtain any service (be it for personal or commercial use) in a quick and affordable manner. Popular examples include Gmail, Dropbox and Zoom.
With a private cloud, reserve services only for yourself or your organization. In other words, resources will not be shared with those who also subscribe to the same service, like in a public cloud. Whether it’s pre-configured virtual machines or a more customized requirement, private cloud services offer additional privacy, albeit being more expensive than its public counterpart.
As its name suggests, hybrid clouds consist of a combination of both private and public cloud services. Depending on specific requirements, businesses may choose to harbor some services on a public cloud, while reserving others for a private cloud. For example, requiring a secure server can warrant the adoption of a private cloud service, while front-end operations can function as needed with a public cloud option that is more affordable.
As more and more companies begin to embrace the cloud, many businesses start off with a hybrid model by default. This is due to the transition between private to public (or vice versa) being a time-consuming and expensive process.
Again, as its name suggests, multi cloud models constitute services from more than one cloud service provider. Why a business chooses to take this route can depend on numerous factors, such as cost savings and regulatory compliance. Preventing vendor lock-ins is another important driving factor that motivates many organizations to solicit services from multiple providers. While some services may be cheaper at one provider compared to another, closer proximity to certain zones can also increase savings – thereby encouraging multi cloud models
Ease of access and availability
After all, the ability to simply download a piece of software (or better yet, use it directly from the vendor’s website itself) has been one of the biggest reasons to skyrocket cloud computing into massive popularity. With most SaaS packages being free from long-standing commitments, and being offered on a monthly basis, even those on a tight budget are able to avail high-quality services at the touch of a button. The lack of downloadable software (especially the kind that operates in a vacuum) forgoes the need for manual updates, as automatic updates for SaaS-based applications will be deployed by the vendor in one go.
Cloud computing has been unmatched in terms of scalability, ever since it has been applied for mainstream and commercial use cases. The ability to purchase resources without having to configure and maintain physical infrastructure means that it can all be scaled up or down, as needed. Do so at the touch of a button, and only reserve what and how much you really need. This saves time, money and significant effort on the parts of your IT and software development teams, so they can instead focus on areas within your organization that deserve more of their strategic attention.
The ability to only reserve and uses what you really need means that cloud services shall also be priced on an on-demand basis. Pay-as-you-go pricing models are popular with most leading cloud service providers, which means that you need only pay for what you use – and nothing more. However, different pricing models are also available, depending on which resources you are obtaining, and how much. That way, you can select which one is most feasible for your business, in order to maximize cost savings.
In an age that’s dominated by cloud services, consumers and businesses alike are able to stay digitally connected 24/7. As cloud computing makes this conveniently possible, software outsourcing in Sri Lanka and other hotbed destinations are able to increase capacity, thanks to the acquisition of cloud resources, with a simple tap or two. Development teams are always pressed for time, but cloud-based resources can now be obtained via dedicated business partnerships, sans any downtime.
However, the journey of how the cloud became so autonomous and versatile is a long one, which spans more than 5 decades. With humble beginnings in an internet-like network called the ARPANET, subsequent inventions pertaining to email, virtual machines, SaaS as well as social media have all contributed to bringing the world of cloud computing where it is today. With numerous models and types to choose from, the cloud is indispensable – and very much a deciding factor of success for businesses today.