What Is Cloud Computing? What Are the Challenges Faced by the Cloud?


The word ‘cloud’ has gained significant traction over the past decade. Traditionally, businesses had on-premises architecture. This meant that all the hardware, storage, networking, and other IT assets of an organization were physically located in the organization’s premises. However, this meant that many businesses had to deal with issues related to their IT setups.

For instance, a software development company that worked on the application level was riddled with hacking attempts. As a result, instead of focusing on their core competency, the company had to focus on security solutions. With the advancement of Computer Science and IT technologies, businesses now have the option to outsource their IT requirements to a cloud computing service. So what is cloud computing?

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing refers to the sharing of a wide variety of computing resources that are located remotely. These services are offered by cloud providers. They charge a monthly or yearly fee in exchange for the required services. The word cloud here refers to the Internet through which users can access these services. This means that organizations no longer have to spend a huge sum of money on their IT assets and can focus more on their operations through the enhanced security, speed, mobility, etc.

Cloud Migration Strategies

While moving to the cloud, a number of strategies can ease the transition.

Rehosting

Rehosting means the relocation of a company’s physical servers through IaaS. This means that if a company intends to quickly migrate its systems and architecture, it can do so through rehosting. Hence, it is one of the most common strategies for companies after their management finalizes the decision to adopt the cloud. However, since it is IaaS, the company does not fully delegate its computing needs. As a consequence, OS and application level needs like patching and testing will still be the company’s responsibility.

As an example, consider a Java Spring application which was previously hosted on your Linux environment on a physical server. Now, you can utilize a cloud platform like AWS or Microsoft Azure where you can set up and customize your own Linux and Java environments. The hardware and lower level complexities and abstractions would be handled by the cloud platforms. This will remove the requirement for a physical server for your application. You will only need some modification with the DNS settings, after which your website can become live again.

Replatforming

Replatforming means that an application is upgraded from an onsite software platform to the cloud without any compromise or change in its functionality. This can include moving a RDBMS to the cloud using a database-as-a-service. Similarly, application servers can also be moved to the cloud. This can be extremely helpful in minimizing licenses fees.

For example, consider that you are paying for an application server in Java. If you will ‘re-platform’, then the cloud can run a variety of application servers like the open-source Apache Tomcat which can boost your project.

Adopting re-platforming for your business means a slower migration strategy as compared to rehosting but it offers the best of both worlds as it can strike a fine balance between rehosting and refactoring. As a result, businesses are able to profit through cloud fundamentals and cost optimization, limiting the need for the costs and resources that are needed in the refactoring strategy.

Refactoring

Traditional IT architectures and processes may have been successful earlier but today’s IT world is a different place. The changes and evolutions in development tools and technologies are occurring at a rapid pace. This means that a legacy system that was built with the best tools of its time in early-2000s will not function well with the business requirements of the present-day world.

Replatforming assists companies to reduce their expenditure without modifying their software environments and applications altogether. However, refactoring goes a step ahead. Refactoring deals with the complete transformation of business processes by using cloud-native platforms and features. Thus, the cloud controls the entire software lifecycle including development and deployment of a project.

While refactoring is slower as well as more expensive as compared to other migration strategies, it helps to shift from a monolithic architecture to a serverless one. As a result, the investment can go on to generate greater profits for a business in comparison to a business that still relies on previous IT setups.

Challenges Faced by the Cloud

Despite its benefits, cloud computing faces challenges.

Reluctance

Long before the cloud emerged as a leading technology, businesses relied on traditional IT practices. Many of these businesses were able to maintain their revenues without the need for any major IT adoption. However, with the passage of time, the computing requirements increased with the huge influx of data, and thus the previous strategy of on-premises IT architecture incurred heavy expenses. Therefore, businesses adopted the cloud, which increased their productivity.

However, not all businesses accepted the change. For non-tech savvy management, this meant a giant leap. The decision to completely revolutionize the IT structure of a company is unappealing to many and there are still businesses that are hesitant to adopt the cloud.

Service Quality

When businesses ponder over the decision to move to the cloud, they contact cloud providers for their services. These providers issue a SLA (Service Level Agreement). Some of the questions that businesses need to address in most SLAs are:

  • What are all the cloud services and features that will be provided to the business?
  • What will the provider do in case of an IT failure?
  • Will the business operations run 24/7 even in the case of an IT issue in the provider’s data center?
  • What are the cybersecurity measures for the protection of the company’s data?

Often businesses are not satisfied with the SLAs and consider them to be limited for their business requirements.

Dependability on the Internet

Since cloud services are accessible over the Internet, 24/7 connectivity is vital for smooth operation. This means that as a business goes offline, the Internet-based cloud features and services would be unavailable for the business and its clients. Thus, businesses have to make sure that their cloud provider has backup solutions that can help in the provision of continuous services.

Bandwidth Cost

With the advent of the cloud, businesses no longer have to purchase a server or spend money on the repair of their hardware. However, another cost has emerged. This cost is related to the bandwidth cost. These may be negligible with small applications but when it comes to data-intensive applications, businesses will need to increase their bandwidth expenses.

Final Thoughts

While cloud computing technology deals with a number of technologies, the selection of the appropriate cloud migration strategy can help to minimize the risks explained above and provide a much-needed boost to businesses.

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