August 2, 2018
Basics of Cloud Computing and Gearing Toward Digital Transformation
Many of us have come to know cloud computing in three silos: SaaS, PaaS and IaaS. Each category offers a different level of control and flexibility for cloud functionality. However, cloud technology is rapidly evolving into more than just a tool but the engine driving enterprise innovation.
What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing at its core means storing data and running workloads over the internet. The proverbial cloud is derived from people habitually drawing clouds to represent the internet in network diagrams.
In a previous article, we do a deep dive on the different types of cloud models and the pros and cons behind private and public clouds. Both models provide more agility, better IT cost-effectiveness and increased access to network resources. Leveraging cloud computing versus on-site data servers means companies only pay for the storage they actually use eliminating waste. Conversely, companies can easily scale up should they need additional storage capacity without investing in the hardware themselves.
The more technical definition of cloud computing as described in InfoWorld is, “the virtualization and central management of data center resources as software-defined pools”. In other words, it describes how public cloud service providers actually run their operations.
From the employee and customer perspective, cloud computing means less time to develop and launch new software capabilities. Innovation simply moves faster. As a result, internal employees can become more efficient at their jobs while simultaneously improving the customer experience.
How Cloud Computing Works
When discussing the cloud computing architecture, it’s helpful to look at it in two camps: the front end and the back end. Information is stored on the cloud service provider’s network of computers, servers, and data storage systems (the back end). The end user can then access their data via the internet via a web browser (the front end). The network of hosting servers do the heavy lifting for applications instead of local computers.
Cloud service providers need to maintain the infrastructure to equal double the data stored by their existing clients. Since hardware can break down, cloud service providers need to make copies as backup for clients for contingency purposes. In cloud computing this is referred to as “redundancy” but for once, this kind of redundancy is not a bad thing!
Not all front-end interfaces are the same. Many function off of standard web browsers like Chrome or Explorer but some cloud computing applications provide unique access to clients outside of major browsers. Typically each application connects to a dedicated, proprietary server.
The Importance of Middleware
The cloud service provider administers the system on a central server monitoring traffic and client demands on the system to ensure everything functions properly through a set of protocols using middleware software.
Middleware is what bridges the gap from the front end to the back end. It connects the network requests from the user in the application to the back-end data. That data can be something as simple as a photo or as complex as banking history. The data can be stored in a file server, message queue or database. Middleware is often referred to as the “glue” that connects separate complex cloud programs. Some cloud service providers bundle middleware as a service offering but many businesses often choose their own middleware products to suit their needs.
Digital Transformation through the Cloud
In a previous article, we discuss the advantages of cloud computing in depth from cost reduction to storage agility to ease of innovation. However, cloud computing is evolving beyond tools for IT and is quickly becoming a business imperative. At Attunix, we help clients move to Microsoft Azure as it is a significant step toward embracing new digital imperatives. Most companies consider this as part of their greater digital transformation strategy.
Moving to a complete or hybrid cloud model can be complex. If your company doesn’t already operate in the cloud, migrating should be step one in your digital transformation process. Cloud computing is the centerpiece that modern digital innovations like IoT and big data applications rely on.
In a previous article, we highlight some of the top cloud computing applications companies leverage for digital transformation. Unlocking the power of the cloud can transform a business by infinite measures. Some immediate benefits companies cite include better IT processes, improved business intelligence, and increased customer engagement. In subsequent articles in this series, we will look at the specific use cases for cloud computing by industry and business function.
Partnering with Cloud Computing Experts
Cloud computing supports modern business initiatives including IoT, app modernization, advanced analytics, and modern data centers. Experts at Attunix can help turn all of those goals into reality with cloud computing. Whatever your digital transformation goals may be, it’s worth investing in managed services to ensure that once the cloud infrastructure is set up that your company receives continual support for system administration, continual development, and incident resolution.
The realities of digital transformations are complicated. Many companies face hurdles in digital transformation typically by limited budgets or lack of internal technical knowledge. Controlling consumption, re-architecting business models, transforming IT processes all requiring significant expertise.
At Attunix, we help our clients make the transition as seamless as possible. We start by looking at the big picture. We then work to develop a roadmap that makes sense for your business initiatives and motivations for your digital transformation. Strategy is imperative before diving into digital transformation. Strategy is what allows companies to effectively use their resources. Simply jumping on the digital bandwagon won’t necessarily be beneficial without the deliberate allocation of your resources.