Abstract

This paper focuses on cloud computing as an emerging technology. It seeks to provide a description of what cloud computing by highlighting its evolution from simple technologies of the past to the very complex and highly effective technology that they are today. Also highlighted in this paper, are the various subcomponents that make up this system, the various types and the myriad of applications that cloud computing has been applied. Finally, this paper will look at the current developments that have been made to this system and the various advantages that make this system a must have.

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Introduction

Cloud computing has revolutionized the way we do things. From simple tasks like emailing and file sharing to more advanced computer applications like data analytics and platform provision, it is undebatable that the world be a different place without this technology. Cloud computing can therefore be ranked amongst the best innovations in computer technology today and Its significance and benefits to modern day life cannot be understated.

There are a number definitions of cloud computing, however, the definition by NIST offers a better perspective of cloud computing. According to NIST, cloud computing refers to a model for facilitating a pervasive and convenient ‘on-demand-network access’ in order to enable a shared pool of resources for configurable computation (such as applications, servers, networks, storage locations/space, and other related services), which are capable of rapid provision and release with minimum managerial efforts or service provision interactions. Let us try to understand this definition better. Essentially, cloud computing attempts to provide computer based services to users at their convenience and in a user friendly self-serve environment. For instance, if a user intends to make us of a software, he may have the option of buying, installing and maintaining this software by himself or accessing this software as an internet based service to use at and when he needs rather than having it even at times when he or she does not need.

Example of cloud computing

A good example of cloud computing in use today would be the google cloud platform. The google cloud platform offers various services such as cloud storage, networking, development tools for web hosting and computing, database and management tools to mention but just a few. It also offers a host of solutions for the end users that include google maps, google chrome for androids and a variety of apps for emails documents among others (Li, Yang, Kandula & Zhang, 2013). Other companies that have made good use of cloud technology services are Etsy, an online market place for hand made goods. This company utilize cloud technology to analyze the millions of monthly views of its website to provide its users with up to date product information and enabling the user to make informed choices. Another company that has made use of cloud computing is Netflix (Li et al, 2013). Faced with the greater consumer demands for shows and movies, and an outgrown data center, the company made a decision to move its services from the traditional data center to a cloud based environment in order to cope with the ever increasing demand for its services. A move that has so far proven beneficial.

From the definition provided above and the mentioned examples of its applications, it is quite clear that cloud computing is certainly a game changer. Its ease of use, low cost, low maintenance, versatility and availability makes it a go to source for modern day solutions, not only for organizations but also for individuals. However, like most other new technologies, it did not develop overnight. To appreciate the significance of it would be necessary to briefly look at its development.

Evolution of cloud computing

The evolution of cloud computing started way back in the 1950s with the invention of mainframe computers. Through this computers, Multiple users could have to access a central computer through what was then known as dumb terminals. The core functions of the dumb terminals were to give access to the mainframe computer. However, costs of purchasing and maintaining mainframe computers was impractical for organizations to purchase and provide every single employee with. Furthermore, most users at the time did not need the large storage space and high processing power that the mainframe computers possessed. Therefore, a shared access to a single pool of resources seemed to be the most sensible alternative. When the 1970s came around, virtual machines started to become popular. Virtualization software such as VMware, made the execution of one or several operating systems simultaneously while in isolated environments a possibility. (Mohammed, 2009)

Before the 1990s, most telecommunications companies mainly offered point to point data connections. However, with the introduction of virtual private networks that could deliver the same quality as the dedicated services although at a much lower cost came up. Most telecommunications companies adopted this technology. This is because it eliminated the need to build physical infrastructure that could allow more users to be connected instead, they were to provide the users with shared access to a single infrastructure (Mohammed, 2009).

The breakthrough to modern day cloud systems came in 2006 with the launch of Amazon Web Service (AWS) by Amazon.com, although its development dated back to 2002. Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud platform that were offered over the Internet by Amazon.com. offered remote computing services that included storage and computation. The most well-known cloud platform services are Amazon EC2 and Amazon S3 (li et al, 2013).

Cloud Computing Systems

Cloud computing can basically be described as either services based on location or those based on the services offered.

Cloud Systems Based on Location

When describing cloud systems based on location we need to look at the following;

1.      Public

2.      Private

3.      Community

4.      Hybrid