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Your BPM & Workflow software in the Cloud with #AuraPortalCloud
14 March 2014

What is Cloud Computing?

The name ‘Cloud Computing’ signifies that software application users may access an ‘unknown’ place at anytime via Internet where data centers that include all the infrastructure, hardware, middleware and software that can be of their interest dwell, and are safely operating and permanently ready to provide the requested application on demand.

A Difficult Birth with a Happy End

After several years of doubtful future and extended distrust from well known experts, Cloud Computing is finally consolidating as the ultimate and unstoppable trend for the use of software applications, once it is becoming fairly evident that the main obstacles to its universal acceptance are finally being overcome.

The traditional hindrances preventing the acceptance of Cloud Computing are related to:

Technical requirements.
Operational reliability.
Data privacy protection.
Lack of user control on cloud features.
Provider liability
Intellectual property rights.

In short, the following exigencies must be met to achieve sound acceptance of Cloud Computing:

■ Reliability. The application should never fail, never shut down and never loose or corrupt information. Therefore, Cloud Providers must guarantee the reliability of both hardware and software, offering a totally safe system including redundancy-enabled and fault-tolerant architectures.

■ Privacy. The information must be kept secret and nobody without the preceptive authorization should have access to it. The cloud is, by definition, a place where many different customers share facilities (hardware and software) in order to lower their fee-per-use, therefore, the privacy, when requested, must be obtained by means of providing one private and isolated database (Private Cloud) for each customer.

■ Legal Terms. All matters related to cloud provider’s liability, termination rights and intellectual property rights must be clearly specified in the cloud agreement.

Today, it seems that all the above difficulties are practically eradicated, so it is expected that Cloud Computing will expand and permeate a vast majority of activities in many fields throughout the coming years.

What Devices do Users need?

The only device that the user must have for being serviced through Cloud Computing is a terminal, such as a Workstation, a PC, a Tablet or a Smartphone with an Internet connection. Nothing else!

The Three Service Levels in Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing encompasses the following three service levels, all of them offered by the Cloud Providers.

Cloud2

IaaS

The first level is called IaaS or Infrastructure as a Service.
In this level the Cloud Provider facilitates the use of all hardware and system software that any user may require related to processing and storage capacity.
This includes air-cooled and disaster-proof locations for lodging the whole system plus guaranteed high-performance, wide-band connections to Internet and all the required maintenance.
This service level allows customers to situate their software applications and operating systems in the Cloud Provider’s data center but it does not provide the maintenance of the application software.

PaaS

The second level is called PaaS or Platform as a Service. The Cloud Provider facilitates a software development platform so that programmers may build applications using adequate programming languages and development environments.
This level guarantees the performance and maintenance of platform elements but not the performance and maintenance of the developed applications.

SaaS

The third level is called SaaS or Software as a Service. It provides the software applications ready to use, guarantying the performance and maintenance of the applications served, including updates.
The ‘pure’ user of a software application needs the SaaS level for accessing the software and the IaaS level as the hardware structure where the software dwells, but he does not need the PaaS level.

The PaaS level attends those users that want to develop software applications using the development platform offered by the Cloud Provider.

Expected Growth of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS

Cloud3The following chart prepared by Forrester Inc. shows the forecasted growth in the use of each Cloud service level (SaaS, PaaS and IaaS) for the coming years up to 2020.

It can be seen that the study foresees a huge increase in the demand for SaaS whereas PaaS and IaaS will have a much lower growth.

 

How to use Cloud Computing

The idea of the Cloud is very simple: It consists of adopting for the computing services the same model used in utilities services.

In the same way that an electricity user simply plugs in the cable to obtain the electric service without bothering whatsoever about the cost and knowledge required to build and manage power plants and a distribution grids, a user of computing applications should obtain the required service by just ‘plugging in’ the Internet browser from any terminal at his convenience without bothering about hardware or software requirements.

Whatever the service level, the customer does not need to invest in hardware or software. The Cloud Provider takes care of all required investments.

The Cloud Providers of IasS and PaaS are specialized corporations, such as Microsoft or Amazon, which have devoted large resources to ensure a service based on the best hardware, middleware and storage capacity in a ubiquitous and absolutely safe location.

On the other hand, the ideal SaaS cloud provider is a highly respected software vendor that may have,-although this is not a requirement-, developed its applications using the development environment of a top-class PaaS provider and offers their final products from a totally reliable IaaS provider.