Cloud Computing — The Concept and the Commerce
Cloud computing is one of the hottest buzzwords in technology. It appears 48 million times on the Internet.
What is it? How does it matter to small business?
With 28 million small businesses making up 99.7% of all U.S. firms, small business is big economy for the United States.
In short — In a complex world of trade and commerce, it is essential that small business owners get what they need right when, and where they need it, whether they're on their computers, tablets or mobile phones – or in the office, out in the field with clients or on the road to meet the next prospect.
This is the promise that cloud computing provides. To demystify cloud computing, here are the basics.
For starters, know that, “The cloud is a metaphor for the Internet. It’s a rebranding of the Internet,” says Reuven Cohen, cofounder of Cloud Camp, a course for programmers. “That is why there is a raging debate. By virtue of being a metaphor, it’s open to different interpretations.” And, he adds, “it’s worth money.”
The term “Cloud Computing” was coined in 1996, inside the offices of Compaq Computer where a small group of technology executives was plotting the future of the Internet business and calling it “cloud computing.”
Benefits of Cloud Computing
Cost Savings —
Small business owners can reduce their capital expenditures and use operational expenditures for increasing their computing capabilities. This is a lower barrier to entry and also requires fewer in-house IT resources to provide system support.
Small business owners can start with a small deployment and grow to a large deployment fairly rapidly, and then scale back if necessary. Also, the flexibility of cloud computing allows companies to use extra resources at peak times, enabling them to satisfy consumer demands.
Small business owners should look for service providers, using multiple redundant sites to support business continuity and disaster recovery
Cloud service providers do the system maintenance, and access is through APIs that do not require application installations onto PCs, thus further reducing maintenance requirements.
Mobile Accessible —
Mobile workers have increased productivity due to systems accessible in an infrastructure available from anywhere.
Challenges of Cloud Computing
Security and Privacy —
Perhaps two of the more “hot button” issues surrounding cloud computing relate to storing and securing data, and monitoring the use of the cloud by the service providers.
A 2018 Crowd Research Partners survey found that 90 percent of security professionals are concerned about cloud security. More specifically, they have fears about data loss and leakage (67 percent), data privacy (61 percent) and breaches of confidentiality (53 percent).
Lack of Standards —
Clouds have documented interfaces; however, no standards are associated with these, and thus it is unlikely that most clouds will be interoperable.
Continuously Evolving —
User requirements are continuously evolving, as are the requirements for interfaces, networking, and storage. This means that a “cloud,” especially a public one, does not remain static and is also continuously evolving.
Compliance Concerns —
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) in the US and Data Protection directives in the EU are just two among many compliance issues affecting cloud computing, based on the type of data and application for which the cloud is being used.
The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has a legislative backing for data protection across all member states, but in the US data protection is different and can vary from state to state.
Managing Multi-Cloud Environment —
If your small business depend on multi-cloud environment for business functions, experts recommend best practices like doing research, training employees, actively managing vendor relationships and re-thinking processes and tooling.
Vendor Lock-in —
There are only handful vendors in play, namely Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and IBM Cloud. "For both analysts and enterprise IT leaders, this raises the specter of vendor lock-in." In a Stratoscale Hybrid Cloud Survey, more than 80 percent of those surveyed expressed moderate to high levels of concern about the problem.
Experts advise that, before small businesses adopt a particular cloud service, they consider how easy it will be to move those workloads to another cloud should future circumstances warrant.
Low Performing Technology —
Yes, cloud computing gives you the advantage of advanced analytics and the potential access of other cutting edge technology; however, in the Teradata survey, 83 percent of the large enterprises surveyed said that the cloud was the best place to run analytics, but 91 percent said analytics workloads weren't moving to the cloud as quickly as they should. Part of the problem, cited by 49 percent of respondents, was immature or low-performing technology.
While launching a new application in the cloud is easy, moving an existing application to a cloud computing environment is far more difficult. 62 percent of those surveyed in the Dimensional Research study sponsored by Velostrata found their cloud migration projects were more difficult than expected. In addition, 64 percent of migration projects took longer than expected, and 55 percent exceeded their budgets.
Yes, if you have a legacy, on-premise software, integrating that with a cloud based application will be a difficult barrier. In the Teradata survey, 30 percent of respondents said connecting legacy systems with cloud applications was a barrier to adoption.
39 percent of those surveyed on Software One report on cloud spending, said connecting legacy systems was one of their biggest concerns when using the cloud.
Features of Cloud Computing
Shared Infrastructure —
Your business software resides on the "cloud" enabling the sharing of physical services, storage, and networking capabilities. This means, you can share the same software with other users that you choose to include.
Dynamic Supply and Demand —
Allows for the supply of services based on current demand requirements. This is done automatically using software automation, enabling the expansion and contraction of service capability, as needed. This means, you can start with one user and grow dynamically to add additional users, without compromising reliability and security.
24 Hour Network Access —
Can be accessed across the internet from a broad range of devices such as PCs, laptops, and mobile devices, using standards-based APIs (for example, ones based on HTTP). Deployments of services in the cloud include everything from using business applications to the latest application on the newest smartphones.
Managed Metering —
Uses metering for managing and optimizing the service and to provide reporting and billing information. This means, you, as a small business owner will be billed for services according to usage of your users during the billing period.
Find More Resources about Cloud Computing
Technology that small business owners and marketers should integrate in their processes.
International Conference on Cloud Computing June 25 - 30 San Diego, USA
Oracle Open World October . San Francisco, California, USA