When we hear or read the term cloud computing, the image of a computer working behind a cloud comes to mind. But reality is a bit (read as a lot) different! Then why call it cloud computing?

The name ‘cloud computing’ comes from the early days of the Internet where we drew the network as a cloud in flowcharts. We didn’t care where the messages went. The cloud hid it from us. But in fact they were stored in large data-centers about which the user always remained unaware.

Before the cloud came about, one needed to invest heavily into infrastructure, maintenance, etc. Setting up a business related to software was especially tough as the initial costs were high. But today better alternatives are available as cloud computing is here. And as per expert opinion, it is here to stay.

Cloud computing is internet based development and use of computer technology. Cloud computing helps you concentrate on development and your core business because you are not managing hardware or software, since that is the responsibility of the vendor including Google/Amazon/Microsoft/salesforce.com etc. (also known as cloud providers). These vendors provide storage. Processing power and computer application is installed on their server, you just need a computer connected with the net and you pay according to the usage.

Once while going through the newspaper, I stumbled upon an interview of an MNC’s director who had discussed the growing importance of cloud computing and how its settings set foot in the Indian market. The term was new to me and the curiosity to know about it had set in. At first, it was difficult for me to understand its significance and technicality. I would keep on wondering why is it so hyped, what makes it so invaluable to corporations? And then I did my research. A three month long study that brought me face to face with the world of cloud computing. Needless to say, it has been an amazing experience. Starting with how it works, as already discussed above, I realized the basic concept behind the emergence of this technology. As with almost all new ventures, it was the need. Need to make things easier, save on expenditures, infrastructure, maintenance, etc. It also unifies businesses in a global sense. When an Indian corporation is storing its data with an American cloud firm, and using its technological expertise, something more productive is bound to show up.

Gradually, I started acknowledging its value to the technological world. I took up research on the topic at college because of sheer curiosity about this new technology as to why it was making so many heads turn or why some eminent people from the industry thought it wasn’t worth a penny.

In my opinion, the cloud is going to shape up the future of technology. Not because it is some magical new technological breakthrough, as many tend to believe. As a matter of fact, cloud computing has been built up on years of work on many other technologies. Grid computing, virtualization, cluster computing, etc. are the technologies that were being used before it and together shaped what we today refer to as cloud computing. But what is different with the cloud is the services it offers. It provides software, infrastructure, platform etc as a service to users.

I believe the most attractive feature that it brought about is pay per use. Yes, you use the services and get the bill accordingly. And it doesn’t end at that! Many cloud providers offer free services for a year or maybe some months, just to help you try out and probably get accustomed to their services and working. Some vendors also provide free space on their servers, which is mostly about 5GB.

An important point to note here is that you are not missing out on anything being an individual user. There are many types of cloud services, designed for different users. In a private cloud, the cloud infrastructure is owned or leased by a single organization and is operated solely for that organization. A community cloud caters to the needs of severs organizations together. The cloud infrastructure is shared by several organizations and supports a specific community that has shared concerns (e.g., mission, security requirements, policy, and compliance considerations).

A public cloud is where the individual user fits in. The cloud infrastructure is owned by an organization selling cloud services to the general public or to a large industry group.

A hybrid cloud, on the other hand, is a composition of two or more clouds (internal, community, or public) that remain unique entities but are bound together by standardized or proprietary technology.

It’s totally the customer’s call, you need it and they provide it the way u want it. Most of the big giants in this business even provide custom made services. I can select the services I want from their list, and they provide them to me. I can even increase or decrease the cloud space that I take up as per my need.

But as per my study, there are still many challenges that the cloud has to overcome. Right now it’s new and still developing, but when it has more customers to cater to, the cloud will be expected to manage all the heavy traffic with minimum hiccups. Of course, all the data that it stores is very precious and needs to be handled with utmost care. If any data leaks out or is lost, the provider would lose its customers and their faith in the company. Also, the ability to acquire and release resources at will is vital to cloud computing. It provides users more flexibility and helps put the ‘pay per use’ motto to use because the moment I give up a resource, I won’t be charged for it anymore.

Cloud computing changed my life by showing me how this upcoming technology is turning our future into a comfortable journey, the way the internet did. It is already getting viral and spreading across borders.