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Role of Cloud Computing in IT Operations

IT leaders need to formulate a cohesive cloud strategy that is expansive and forward-looking to fully reap the business value of cloud

What’s the biggest challenge for Cloud customers in 2021? The majority of IT leaders that we interviewed acknowledge it’s a priority for them to stay on top of Cloud management strategy and ensure their IT needs for various business operations are met with agility on Cloud. There are many ways an organization can make a leap to Cloud. However, all cloud adoption processes meet with a more or less similar unique set of challenges. These are mostly related to security, compliance, downtime and cost-effectiveness. With Customer Experience at the center of all IT modernization workflows, it’s important to understand the very basics of Cloud computing in IT operations.

What Is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing in IT ops, also referred to as CloudOps, is the scientific management, delivery and use of software in a computing environment. It could be delivered through a Public, Private, Hybrid or Hyper-converged infrastructure.

According to AppDynamics, CloudOps is “the process of identifying and defining the appropriate operational procedures to optimize IT services within the cloud environment.”

CloudOps could use traditional IT concepts, merged with DevOps, Containerization, Data Warehousing, AI MLOps, RPA and CI / CD capabilities to manage, monitor, analyze and provide on-demand delivery of IT resources via the internet. These services often include servers, databases, software, networks, analytics, and other computing functions that can be operated through the cloud.

Here are some interesting statistics on the Cloud Computing industry.

  • Organizations are using an average of 1,427 different cloud applications, most of which are SaaS applications. (McAfee Cloud Adoption and Risk Report)
  • Cloud computing industry touched $370 billion valuation in 2020. (Accenture)
  • Worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services is forecast to grow 18.4 percent in 2021. (Gartner)
  • 92 percent of enterprises have reported having a multi-cloud strategy. Eighty-two percent are taking a hybrid approach, combining the use of both public and private clouds. (Flexera)
  • Thirty-six percent of enterprises said their annual spend exceeded $12 million, and 83 percent reported that cloud spend exceeds $1.2 million per year. (Flexera)
  • Organizations are implementing iPaaS solutions in low to no code environments to support DevOps teams, save time and resources and promote non-technical users. (Nucleus Research)
  • AI ML continues to see investments to further streamline automation processes surrounding workflows, data, and communication. Also, Microservice architectures, data quality, and the ability to connect any user or data to any endpoint are equally important aspects of Cloud computing in the modern era. (Nucleus Research)

Files and programs stored in the cloud can be accessed anywhere by users on the service, eliminating the need to always be near physical hardware. In the past, for example, user-created documents and spreadsheets had to be saved to a physical hard drive, USB drive, or disk. Without some kind of hardware component, the files were completely inaccessible outside the computer they originated on. Thanks to the cloud, few people worry anymore about fried hard drives or lost or corrupted USB drives. Cloud computing makes the documents available everywhere because the data actually lives on a network of hosted servers that transmit data over the internet.

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Cloud Computing Service Types

Cloud computing services are broken down into three major categories: software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS).

Software-as-a-Service

SaaS is the most common cloud service type. Many of us use it on a daily basis. The SaaS model makes the software accessible through an app or web browser. Some SaaS programs are free, but many require a monthly or annual subscription to maintain the service. Requiring no hardware installation or management, SaaS solutions are a big hit in the business world. Notable examples include Salesforce, Dropbox, or Google Docs.

Platform-as-a-Service

PaaS is a cloud environment supporting web application development and deployment. PaaS supports the full lifecycle of applications, helping users build, test, deploy, manage and update all in one place. The service also includes development tools, middleware, and business intelligence solutions. Notable examples include Windows Azure, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, and Google App Engine.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service

IaaS provides users with basic computer infrastructure capabilities like data storage, servers, and hardware — all in the cloud. IaaS gives businesses access to large platforms and applications without the need for large onsite physical infrastructures. Notable examples of IaaS include Digital Ocean, Amazon EC2, and Google Compute Engine.

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How Does Cloud Computing Work?

The cloud is basically a decentralized place to share information through satellite networks. Every cloud application has a host, and the hosting company is responsible for maintaining the massive data centers that provide the security, storage capacity and computing power needed to maintain all of the information users send to the cloud.

The most prominent companies hosting the cloud are major players like Amazon (Amazon Web Services), Microsoft (Azure), Apple (iCloud), and Google (Google Drive), but there’s also a plethora of other players, large and small. These hosting companies can sell the rights to use their clouds and store data on their networks, while also offering the end-user an ecosystem that can communicate between devices and programs (e.g., download a song on your laptop and it’s instantly synced to the iTunes software on your iPhone)

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Generally, cloud computing follows three delivery models: 

Public

This is the most common and all of the players mentioned above (Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple & Google) run public clouds accessible anywhere with login credentials and the right web app.

Private

This model offers the same kind of flexibility as the public cloud, but with the infrastructure needs (hosting, data storage, IT staff, etc.) provided by the companies or users of the service. Additionally, the restricted access and hands-on management of hosting give the private model an extra layer of security.

Hybrid

Hybrid cloud computing is a combination of public and private models. The two cloud types are linked over the internet and can share resources when needed (e.g., if the private cloud reaches storage capacity or becomes corrupted, the public cloud can step in and save the day).

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Roles of Cloud Computing

Companies and individuals use cloud computing in a variety. In addition to some of the examples already covered, here is a quick look at some other important application areas.

Communication & Collaboration

The entire Google suite of applications is cloud-based, from the calendar to Gchat. Additionally, so are popular apps like Skype and WhatsApp, and all empower people to communicate and collaborate on a global scale.

Entertainment

A combination of cloud computing and vastly improved internet speed has given rise to media streaming giants like Netflix and Hulu, which host enormous databases of movies and TV shows available via the cloud. The cloud allows these companies and others like Spotify and Tidal, to exist.

Big Data Analytics

Before the cloud, using big data to glean patterns and insights was a cumbersome and expensive process. The cloud has changed all that, eliminating the need for in-house development resources when compiling and analyzing data. Nowadays companies can collect data from a variety of sources, connect them to the cloud and dig for insights in real-time.

Business Processes

Without the cloud, innovative tools like Salesforce, Slack and myriad others designed to enhance and streamline the daily operations of companies would not exist.

Backups

Cloud computing is an important answer to the issue of data loss and recovery on physical hard drives. Most individuals who’ve owned a computer have experienced the stress of losing irreplaceable files. Whether it’s a term paper, family photos, or the company payroll, cloud computing offers an easily accessible backup solution to keep data safe.

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