Common Questions and Answers about Cloud Computing

How does cloud computing provides on-demand functionality?, What do I need to do to get ready for the cloud?, What can be outsourced to the cloud?, How much will it cost?,... are common Cloud Computing questions and answers.

How much will it cost?
As with any other technology issue, the answer to this one is: it depends. The first step is to determine all the potential costs, so ask cloud providers for a list of every possible expense that could crop up. Common expenses include data-storage costs; one-time fees for moving data; uploads and downloads; general network bandwidth fees; and maintenance costs. Fortunately, most cloud providers will give you a free quote and work with you on pricing, making it easier to compare providers.

How does cloud computing provides on-demand functionality?
Cloud computing is a metaphor used for internet. It provides on-demand access to virtualized IT resources that can be shared by others or subscribed by you. It provides an easy way to provide configurable resources by taking it from a shared pool. The pool consists of networks, servers, storage, applications and services.

What do I need to do to get ready for the cloud?
Depending on your business, getting ready could be as simple as having an outsourced IT consultant come to your company and make the changes necessary for automatic backup. There could also be more extensive preparations, such as optimizing hardware for faster bandwidth or training staff members in uploading to a cloud provider.

What can be outsourced to the cloud?
Most small businesses use the cloud for data backup (including both short-term storage and long-term archiving), but application-based operations can also be outsourced. For example, if you want to use customer relationship management (CRM) software, you could tap into a cloud provider’s CRM apps instead of paying for per-desk licensing and other fees.

Will I need extra IT help to make the transition?
Most likely, you won't need to hire a technology guru, but having some IT help can make the process simple, efficient and speedy. Many outsourced IT professionals have worked with numerous small-business customers, so they know the types of issues that can arise. Plus, they’re familiar with strategies for getting you into the cloud with minimal hassle. An IT partner also can help you take advantage of all the services a cloud provider offers and provide vendor-neutral advice.

What do I need to know about security?
Cloud computing creates certain security issues because it requires different levels of configuration and management, for both software and hardware. That means there are risks, but it also means there are distinctive strategies for protection. Your cloud provider should be able to go over the tactics needed to keep your data safe, including encryption, identity management and physical security. Every cloud provider has a data-recovery and business-continuity plan in place, so ask about these when you're shopping around.

Do I have to purchase new hardware?
Maybe. Sometimes, a network needs to be optimized for cloud-computing services, and that can involve purchasing newer desktop or laptop machines. But most companies can take advantage of cloud offerings without making a substantial investment.

How can I determine whether it’s right for my business?
Here’s where a deep dive into costs and benefits can come in handy. Get a grasp of any cloud-related expenses (e.g., hardware upgrades, monthly fees and outsourced IT consulting), and then compare those numbers to what it might cost to run the same level of computing power in-house. Many companies find they save money through cloud computing because they don’t have to revamp their infrastructure and hire additional IT staff to realize productivity gains. Be sure to look at other issues, too, such as whether cloud-based backup will be a disruption to your business instead of a benefit.

How can I make sure I always have access to my data?
A cloud provider should be able to outline access, security, services, support and other specifics in a service-level agreement. These agreements detail what happens if there’s an outage or if the cloud provider goes out of business, and protects you in certain circumstances. To be truly confident about data storage, however, experts usually recommend using multiple services instead of a single provider. Some companies, for instance, choose to back up mission-critical data to a cloud provider as well as to a different online backup service.

Is there anything a cloud provider can’t provide?
One of the few things cloud providers generally can’t deliver is guaranteed uptime. Some come very close, promising 99.99 percent uptime, but very few offer 100 percent. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll experience downtime at some point; it just means you should have a plan in place in case you are ever faced with downtime.

What happens in the event of data loss?
Much like the answer for costs, we go back to this: it depends. Encrypted data that gets corrupted can be harder to recover, but it's not impossible. Your cloud provider will have a policy in place in the event of data loss, which outlines the recovery measures they’ll take. Make sure to ask the provider about these strategies before any loss occurs, and try to get some examples of how they’ve recovered data in the past.

What is the difference between scalability and elasticity?
Scalability is a characteristic of cloud computing through which increasing workload can be handled by increasing in proportion the amount of resource capacity. It allows the architecture to provide on demand resources if the requirement is being raised by the traffic. Whereas, elasticity is being one of the characteristic provide the concept of commissioning and decommissioning of large amount of resource capacity dynamically. It is measured by the speed by which the resources are coming on demand and the usage of the resources.

What are the different layers of cloud computing?
Cloud computing consists of 3 layers in the hierarchy and these are as follows:

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provides cloud infrastructure in terms of hardware like memory, processor speed etc. 
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) provides cloud application platform for the developers. 
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) provides cloud applications which are used by the user directly without installing anything on the system. The application remains on the cloud and it can be saved and edited in there only.

What resources are provided by infrastructure as a service?
Infrastructure as a Service provides physical and virtual resources that are used to build a cloud. Infrastructure deals with the complexities of maintaining and deploying of the services provided by this layer. The infrastructure here is the servers, storage and other hardware systems.

How important is platform as a service?
Platform as a Service is an important layer in cloud architecture. It is built on the infrastructure model, which provides resources like computers, storage and network. This layer includes organizing and operate the resources provided by the below layer. It is also responsible to provide complete virtualization of the infrastructure layer to make it look like a single server and keep it hidden from the outside world.

What does software as a service provide?
Software as Service is another layer of cloud computing, which provides cloud applications like google is doing, it is providing google docs for the user to save their documents on the cloud and create as well. It provides the applications to be created on fly without adding or installing any extra software component. It provides built in software to create wide varieties of applications and documents and share it with other people online.

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