Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Utilizing Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is the practice of using a networked group of computers. Oftentimes, thousands of computers are networked together in order to store and process data. Data from the same database may be backed up as broken down "blocks" that are stored on hundreds of different servers. Cloud computing is cheaper than running local servers. Since the data and workload can be divided among many different servers, it is also much more efficient. Instead of fifty separate servers dedicated to a web host or program, thirty servers can be used and shifted between machines as necessary. With a good understanding of cloud computing you can save your company money and increase efficiency. 

How Cloud Computing Is Used
Cloud computing replaces supercomputers with a networked group of servers. It lets scientists build massive models of weather patterns. Cloud computing is also used in medicine to model newly discovered viruses, map genomes and track pandemics. Engineers have used computer aided modeling to run 3D computational models through simulations long before they made prototypes to run through real world stress tests. Cloud computing is now being used to assemble thousands of individual CAD models into cars and planes for environmental testing and stress testing. A recent advancement in computer-aided modeling has been the ability to use cloud computing to compare different product designs before combining their elements to generate dozens of novel designs. Each design is compared against performance criteria like energy efficiency, size and speed. Only the models that meet all of these criteria are returned for the designer's review. The process of combining elements to create several different prototypes leaves engineers with only a few models to build and test.
One cloud computing use growing in popularity is online data backup. Users pay a flat fee to have their devices or personal computers backed up to the cloud. Local disk drives may be damaged in a fire or stolen. Therefore, cloud computing is a safer back up tool than a local disk drive. It is also regularly used for online file sharing. This is especially true for files too large to send as email attachments. Data sharing through the cloud also offers an improved measure of security. Only someone with an account and the correct password can access the file through the cloud. If the link to the file's location is intercepted or sent to the wrong person, the accidental recipient will not have your company's trade secrets. 

How Cloud Computing Evolved 
Software providers started offering distributed computing and applications that ran on their computers. This was an alternative to users having to buy and install software. This allowed users to avoid installation problems. They would simply receive the next software version automatically. Software vendors saw this as a constant stream of revenue from subscribers. Virtualization techniques from web hosting service providers for virtual servers were adopted wholesale by data centers. 

Cloud computing providers opened up their platforms to let smaller applications offer their software as a service on the provider's platform. The infrastructure became a way for service providers to give customers a virtual machine. Customers could then set up any platform and software. Cloud computing was originally a public cloud owned by large IT firms where customers could access software applications and databases. However, the declining cost of hardware and the changed cloud computing infrastructure meant that mid-sized and large businesses could now set up private clouds. Private cloud computing lets businesses save on IT support costs and software licensing fees while keeping data on their own private network. 

The Next Generation of Cloud Computing 
More companies are adopting a hybrid cloud computing model. This includes private clouds for sensitive data, and public clouds for other applications. A company may use a cloud-based version of PTC's Autodesk to create drawings, but save them on a product data management application on a private cloud to keep proprietary drawings secret. Cloud computing providers will need to evolve to develop public/private cloud interfaces. 

One of the recent advances of cloud computing is the virtualization of infrastructure. Networking has remained the last major labor cost in IT. The virtualization of infrastructure means that this work is replaced by artificial intelligence. The next great challenge of cloud computing is authentication methods, standardizing infrastructure, data transfer, audit methods and security. While cloud computing is now common, clouds supported by big IT firms like Amazon and IBM are not always interoperable. For customers who want to switch online data backup services, it may not be possible to move their saved backups from one cloud service provider to another. 
Software applications with high input/output cannot be moved into a public cloud, but may be run on a private cloud. Legacy software applications don't translate well to the cloud model, but can be run on a virtual desktop off of an executable file on the cloud server. Applications with low latency don't work well on the cloud. Proprietary data shouldn't be stored on a public cloud, due to security concerns.

If you would like to learn more about how cloud services can help your company, please call us at 1.877.860.5831 or visit our website at www.bitxbit.com. 

Robert Blake
877.860.5831 x190

Friday, February 7, 2014