What is Cloud Computing?
Taking a closer look into a new way of storing, managing, processing data
Vishnu Thirumalai London 25/10/18
Tech Society, King's College London
Cloud computing, once a pipe dream, is now a fully realised and booming market. In short, it refers to the providing of computer services, such as processors and storage over the internet, as opposed to local and physical hardware. It has allowed companies to outsource the majority of their low-level work to external providers, allowing them to focus their efforts on delivering their products. Some surveys showing an increase of focus of up to 40%.
While this does cause a risk of a single centre going down, affecting a large part of the internet (such as earlier this year when the AWS US-East 1 data centre went down and knocked out over 250 services, including Slack and Twilio) it also allows development and new hardware to be focused in these centers, raising the overall standard and speed of the internet.
These centers can be broadly split into three types, based on how many services they provide: Infrastructure-as-a-Service merely provide the hardware, Platform-as-a-Service also provide Operating Systems and Running facilities, while Software-as-a-Service give clients a fully functioning application, taking care of every part of it.
Cloud computing has also allowed many startups to hit the ground running, as opposed to traditional companies who like to keep their servers and data in house. Services such as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and IBM Cloud can also be, and often are, used for website hosting in such scenarios.
These companies often also provide access to cutting edge technologies, such as Google’s suite of AI tools or IBM’s famous Watson. In terms of market share, all three are dwarfed by Amazon, which commands a hefty third of the market by itself. Relatively smaller companies such as Salesforce and Rackspace exist, but they’re fairly niche.
In summary, these services allow companies access to far more powerful hardware and larger storage. However, relying on another service means leaving their data, albeit safely encrypted, in someone else’s hands. Concentrating the majority of the internet in the hands of the few is a great way to keep everyone at a similar level, but should the hub go down, the wheel of the internet could come crashing down.
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