Cloud Computing – Get started with it.

Cloud computing technology was first popularized in the business community by Amazon in 2006 when it launched its Elastic Cloud Computing platform. Post that, multiple organizations like Google, NASA, Microsoft, IBM, Alibaba, and many more joined the trend with their custom solutions for internal and external customers.

In layman terms, cloud computing enables the enterprises, business / individual entities to run their products/services from a shares infrastructure not necessarily owned by the business. It means that one doesn’t need to maintain all the information, data, processing, at localized servers/infrastructure but rather outsource the same to other entities owning the same

 which has further dramatically simplified the operations for the business availing the cloud computing solutions and also impacted on the bottom line owing to more massive savings in CAPEX (coming as Depreciation every year) and OPEX ( R&M for these servers run high figures!).

Examples include hosting of websites on private/shared servers like Godaddy / AWS/ Google / Digital Ocean / Hostgator, creating a product and hosting the entire code, database, information, user activity, business interactions on an outsourced server like Amazon Web server and many more.

Different types of Cloud Computing platforms are :

  • IAAS (Infrastructure as a Service)
  • SAAS (Software as a Service)
  • PAAS (Platform as a Service)
  • DAAS (Desktop as a Service)

There are several things to consider before choosing the right cloud platform. The world of cloud computing has gone vast now, with each of the players offering multiple offerings in computing, data handling, AI/ML integration, enterprise app management, and much much more. Practically anything stored on the internet is a cloud – be it an email, your file, database, programs or software you run, a consumer product that you created for your customers, and so on and forth. So in this part, let us discuss the top 6 things you should consider before choosing the right platform :

  • Data Privacy: There are various options to consider for your data to be stored/handled on the cloud and the various models available are :
    • Public Cloud: This is most suitable for database/products that are not highly sensitive and yet protected for the use of organization operational activities. By public, it doesn’t mean that the data is available for public access; the only thing it means is that the server where data is stored is also open for other customers to use that is always protected for any leakage. However, for specific industries like banking, finance, govt security, this method might not be a very secure one. Some of the public cloud providers are AWS (Amazon Web Server, Alibaba Cloud, Azure, Google Cloud, Digital Ocean). We shall be discussing Public cloud only in this article as over >90 % of global players are using Public cloud.
    • Private Cloud: This method is most suitable for highly sensitive data that an entity needs to protect with utmost vigilance. Industries such as banking, Govts, healthcare, have private cloud systems that ensure full autonomy and security over the data. Private cloud means they have their dedicated proprietary infrastructure, such as servers, storage houses. Examples are Dell VMC, VMWare, Red-hot, Microsoft Openstack.
    • Hybrid Cloud: This is a combination of public and private cloud offerings.
  • Performance: This is the most crucial criterion to chose while selecting a cloud offering. Every public cloud provider, such as AWS, Alicloud, provides the choice of the latest CPU’s and GPU’s to chose while purchasing an “instance” on their platform for your needs. It is of paramount importance to understand how much computing power your product requires to select the best machine instance on the server. If your app is in nascent stages, you might as well as a getaway by choosing the most basic instance provided by your cloud server and scale it as the need arises
  • Flexibility or Elasticity to Scale: Your cloud provider must be elastic or flexible to provide options for you in the future to scale up the server infrastructure as and when your business/users grow and crowded data. Hence, it is not recommended to lock down on one-year contracts on particular server size and configuration if your business has just started or your users are expected to grow exponentially.
  • Compliance: This is a crucial point to consider as when you are storing your database in one of the cloud solutions, you need to understand the key compliances w.r.t handling data. It is of paramount importance to know where your data is stored and handled, who else is able to see it, etc, For instance, if your data stored on servers in the UK (where the instance machine of your cloud computing provider is), your data is susceptible to the laws and regulations of that country. So while selecting a service provider, it is essential to keep in this viewpoint.
  • Architecture: By architecture, we mean the elements of cloud computing deployed for usage. e.g., the front end platform (client-side platform like web, mobile)-> backend systems (needed for storage), delivery mechanism, networking, security peripherals. It also depends on which platform you are relying the most for your application.
  • Economics /Costing: Finally, it boils down on how much are you going to spend on it. Different solutions have different pricing, and it is not possible to tabulate all solutions and compare the price in one go as most of these are custom based pricing e.g., AWS charges on per hour basis, Google charges on per second, Azure on data usage, Digital Ocean has droplet-based pricing per month.

Shortlisting on a cloud computing platform is much more of a technical decision rather than a business one, as most of the cloud computing is almost at an equal pricing / strategic impact on the future of your product. While it is imperative to look at the above factor, one key factor that is missing out and is vital for some users is also the reliability of the brand e.g., Amazon, Microsoft, Alibaba are significant companies with massive presence across the world and are most reliable brand when it comes to quality and the long term integration options. However, this opinion is purely personal.

The author of this article is Anand Arora, ex-IIT , ex PepsiCo / Unilever, a seasoned R&D / Innovation professional turned entrepreneur. Anand has pioneered innovations in FMCG, Retail and Ed-Tech platform in both India and abroad plus very passionate when it comes to translating an idea into a product plan and a consumer ready product.

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