The Cloud Paradigm and its Effect on Computing
The NIST SP 800-145 states that cloud computing is a model for “enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources” (Grance, & Mell, 2011, pg.2). Combined with wide expansion of the internet, this concept has created a paradigm where computer resources and applications can be accessed on-demand in a fashion similar to utilities like power or water.
The Cloud Paradigm
Business computer information systems from the 1990’s through the early 2000’s relied upon on-premises infrastructures to provide web and data services. Notable disadvantages of this model included cost of hardware and its maintenance, and lack of scalability. Things such a physical data storage and computing power were limited to those available within the local system (Wagner, 2013). The advent of widespread internet availability has provided an easy method to access advanced computing resources hosted by specialized providers. This model has created a paradigm where computing resources and applications can be made available as a service, much like a utility. Instead of buying and maintaining their own infrastructures, organizations can get access to a large pool of computing resources and only use and pay for what they need, as they need it (The Open Group- What is the Cloud?, n.d.).
Cloud Affects on Business
One notable characteristic of cloud services is that they provide a way for any organization to access professional level resources as needed. In other words, it provides even small organizations access to the same level of computer resources that used to only be available to large organizations. Another primary characteristic of cloud services is that customers do not have access or control over underlying technologies that are providing the service. This means organizations do not need to employ IT staff to maintain physical infrastructure. The most noticeable effect this has had on business is that smaller organizations now have a better ability to compete with larger organizations. In other words it levels the playing field (Barnatt, 2016). One example of small businesses taking advantage of cloud computing is as customers, for example, QuickBooks is a bookkeeping application widely used by many businesses. Under the traditional model a business would buy licenses as needed and install it locally. The issue is that first, it requires computing hardware to host the application. Second, the application can be fairly expensive for small organizations and the application has many advanced features, many of which may or may not be needed. Intuit now offers QuickBooks as Software as a Service (SaaS) which allows small organizations to buy the application as a subscription service, and still have access to all the features it needs (Intuit-QuickBooks, n.d.). The cloud philosophy has also had effects on large business. In the past large data driven organizations were required to maintain large data centers to provide their services. Under normal operating condition they only used a fraction of these resources. The remaining infrastructure was needed for times when loads increased and they needed to scale up. Cloud services allow organizations to scale as needed without the requirement to actually own and maintain systems. One of the overall effects is that large organizations have been able to significantly reduce IT staff and use those financial resources elsewhere, example, for development (The Open Group – Why Cloud?, n.d.).
Effects on Personal Users
The wide spread use of social media such as YouTube, Facebook, and Google services, is evidence of the significant affect that the cloud paradigm has had on everyday computer users. News events can go “viral” and spread across the world in a matter of hours. Anyone with a computer and internet access can get instant news, access to bank accounts, and publish their own views to social media, in an instant. This instant access to services allows anyone, even those without technical skills, the ability to take advantage of cloud-based services. Areas of everyday life where this effect can be seen include services such as education. Students can take online classes where they have access to education material twenty four hours a day. Health care providers can easily share critical health and billing information with associates. Another aspect of how the cloud paradigm affects everyday people is marketing. Businesses are increasingly using data mined from social media to get better insights on potential services, innovations, and customer requirements (Ferkoun, 2013).
Through the 1990’s into the mid 2000’s most computer users were people with an interest in technology and technical ability. Through the mid 2000’s a notable shift in who uses computers and technology, and how that technology is used, had changed considerably. This paradigm shift can be directly tied to the increased availability of internet access combined with the advent of cloud services. Cloud computing such as SaaS applications have made conducting activities such as banking, paying bills, buying movie tickets, submitting want-ads to a newspaper, an “online” action instead of doing it in person or through the mail. In the earlier days of the internet, someone would have to know web programming to publish their own web page. Today cloud services allow someone to get an account with a service like WordPress, and they can publish their own web page or blog without knowing anything about web development. The effect overall is that businesses have shifted to using cloud based services to reduce costs and provide better cloud based services, and now use those financial resources to try and find more or better services to provide to consumers. In turn consumers now use cloud based services and “apps” as a part of normal everyday life.
Barnatt, C. (2016, January 06). Cloud Computing. Retrieved July 7, 2016, from http://explainingcomputers.com/cloud.html.
Ferkoun, M. (2013, April 04). How cloud computing is impacting everyday life. Retrieved July 8, 2016, from http://www.thoughtsoncloud.com/2013/04/how-cloud-computing-is-impacting-everyday-life/.
Grance, T., & Mell, P. (2011, September). The NIST Definition of Cloud Computing, NIST SP 800-145. Retrieved June 28, 2016, from http://nvlpubs.nist.gov/nistpubs/Legacy/SP/nistspecialpublication800-145.pdf.
Intuit – QuickBooks. (n.d.). QuickBooks Start. Retrieved July 7, 2016, from https://quickbooks.intuit.com/cloud-accounting-software/.
The Open Group- What is the Cloud? (n.d.). Cloud Computing for Business-What is Cloud? Retrieved July 7, 2016, from http://www.opengroup.org/cloud/cloud/cloud_for_business/what.htm.
The Open Group- Why Cloud? (n.d.). Cloud Computing for Business-Why Cloud? Retrieved July 7, 2016, from http://www.opengroup.org/cloud/cloud/cloud_for_business/why.htm.
Wagner, H. (2013, July 30). How Does IaaS Compare to On-Premise? Retrieved July 7, 2016, from http://www.overthewire.com.au/news/how-does-iaas-compare-to-on-premise.