With the New Year drawing in, we look to the defining future technologies to explore the ways in which they could evolve the ways we work. One of the lesser discussed areas of interest is that of Cloud Computing and Services. With all the main attention being given to the front-end technologies as they are much easier to demonstrate, the technology behind Cloud Services have been essential in the construction of the infrastructure for almost all industries on the web. This article will guide you through the essential information about this technology, past and future examples, and a look into what’s to come. Read on to learn why cloud services could be the defining technology of 2022.
What is cloud computing?
It seems that every advert for an IT service is name dropping ‘The Cloud’ in their adverts, boasting about the new freedom which can be achieved through harnessing its power. In its simplest form, it’s the ability to have your data stored in a web of servers around the world. Anytime you have logged into your email, watched a show on a streaming service, or saved a document online, you are using the cloud.
Before the rollout of cloud computing, all storage and backup was done on storage media like a CD-ROM or on hard drives. This was partially because of the limitations of internet speed. The feasibility to host or ‘stream’ content to a user on the pre-fibreoptic days was a large task. But as technology in one area grows, so do the industries around it. This gave the users the ability to access their saved data anywhere on any device which could connect to the internet. This birthed a boom in productivity with people able to take their work with them anywhere without needing to carry around an abundance of storage media.
This growth also aided in allowing smaller businesses and start-ups to offer scalable services to its users by also using the cloud. As you can move the storage and processing off-site, it can allow a cheaper and quicker start-up time for smaller businesses who might not have the physical space or the infrastructure cost to install physical servers at the office. This allows ideas to be turned into products at a much quicker rate, giving the end-user a greater choice and flexibility in choosing a service that best suits their needs.
SaaS, PaaS and IaaS
The launch of cloud services for commercial use is split into three main categories. SaaS (Software as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a service), and IaaS (Infrastructure as a service).
The former, SaaS, is a delivery system for software. The best example is like any online document editor where you are doing the work through your web browser and not from a piece of software you have downloaded.
The move to offering software through the cloud, has many advantages. Firstly, it allows a wider audience to access your product or service by opening the possible user base to anyone with an internet browser. With the near-global adoption of smartphones, this allows users all around the globe to have access to these services. Moreover, the ability for the business behind the software to be able to push out updates and patches to all users’ at once allows for a greater amount of security and protection of the service and the users data. This would be able to quickly patch any bugs which may be affecting a large number of users quickly. The third main advantage of SaaS is the reduced cost of hardware for the company and the end-user. On the companies’ sides, it can allow smaller and independent businesses to grow and scale to larger markets, allowing more competition within the industry. And on the users’ side, it allows the costs for these services to be spread out in the form of a subscription instead of a one-off cost.
This style of delivery is what is responsible for the massive growth in monthly subscription-based services. Due to the fact, the companies hosting this are usually paying monthly for the cloud servers, a business model which charges also monthly for access to said servers is a logical step to take. This lower-cost subscription model also lends itself an advantage for users, as it allows them to try a service for a short time and smaller cost rather than purchasing the software and it not meeting their specific needs further down the line. SaaS is one of the most user-friendly branches of cloud services as the management of all aspects of the service is done on the hosts’ end, leaving a simple user experience for the end-user.
In contrast to SaaS, PaaS is focused more on the development of services. In this setup, the user is responsible for the hosting of their applications and data, but uses the cloud for the delivery of the servers, networking and runtime services. Through this platform users (which at this level are usually developers) can create, test, build and package together developed software to distribute through the cloud to their customers. A commonly used example of PaaS is Microsoft Azure, a platform that allows people to develop software and analytics whilst also utilising the cloud.
Finally, IaaS is the top level of this, these are the services that facilitate PaaS and SaaS users to work and connect. It provides virtualisation services that facilitate high-level API access, and networking services like backup, security and scalability. Most people won’t usually have to interact with these services as they are developed and marketed towards businesses to allow other companies to facilitate their goals. The most common commercial types of IaaS are Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Cisco’s Metapod.
What the future holds
With all this information it’s easy to see the potential going forward to the ever-expanding world of cloud services.
Looking to the future now, what are the different ways in which cloud services can improve as technology and our lives alongside it. One of the biggest concerns about the internet with most users is security with stories of data breaches popping up on a semi-regular occurrence. As more services move onto the cloud and with future collaborations between IaaS providers could allow for cloud level encryption, improving security for its users. This increased security can give a sense of confidence to the users, leading to more wide-scale adoption down the line.
One of the future issues in which the wide-scale growth of cloud computing could lead to is the environmental impact. Due to the nature of the always-on aspect of cloud computing, even if the growth in carbon output isn’t noticeable on the side of the user, the effect is still there. This is why any advances in cloud services over the next few years will need to take a carbon-neutral approach to its development and marketing. As users are getting more and more conscious about technologies and their effects on the environment, businesses will need to invest and market in technologies that do what they can to offset the carbon output.
Amazon has been trying to get ahead of the curve on this by being one of the largest purchasers of renewable energy and also producing their own renewable energy generating about 8.5GW a year. As this trend grows, we are sure to see many other IaaS and PaaS companies shifting to renewables in an attempt to collectively offset the environmental impacts which come with cloud services.
The most exciting aspect of cloud services in the future is how accessible the technology is for teams or individuals to start developing new and innovative ideas utilising this growing technology. As the number of people getting involved with technology grows, the better solutions we can produce. With all technological growths, it can be hard to always predict what could come and change the way we interact with technology or the world.
2022 is going to be filled with plenty of interesting announcements and releases in the world of technology and here at NetWorthPick we are always curious to what you think the biggest new application of cloud services could be. Drop us a message in the comments section and join the discussion today. Let’s see what else we can learn together.
Nathaniel is a Web Design Executive who also writes content on technology and loves spending his days researching and building new projects, and generally complaining about new trends.