Cloud Computing Dissected:
Everything You Need to Know About the Hottest Thing in IT
Yahoo has been on an acquisition blitz as of late, amassing 29 acquisitions for the year 2013. The most recent acquisition was QuikIO, a personal cloud computing service. We are unsure as to what glorious product Yahoo plans on releasing with all these acquisitions but we know it is going to involve cloud computing.
This comes as no surprise to us because cloud computing has taken IT industry by storm in the early 2000s. The concept had been introduced way back in the 1950s but it really took off when Amazon introduced Amazon Web Services on a utility computing basis in 2006. Public cloud services is growing at a 5-year Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 26.4% through 2016 which is more than seven times the rate of growth for the rest of IT. But despite the myriad of cloud computing services surrounding us today, most of us still only have a vague understanding of what cloud computing is all about.
Public cloud computing can be divided into three large categories: IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service), PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service), and SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). IaaS provides fundamental computing elements and resources such as firewall, storage, server, memory, CPU, etc. Examples are Amazon EC2 and S3 services. PaaS provides computing platform and application development tools such as operating system, programming language execution environment, database, user management module, etc. Biggest PaaS services are Google App Engine and Windows Azure. SaaS is software that runs on the infrastructure and platform managed by cloud providers. They are usually on-demand software with subscription fee. Spotify, Zimly, and Dropbox are just a few examples of SaaS services.
To put it in layman’s terms, SaaS is a house, PaaS is the bricks and stones with which it is built, and IaaS is the foundation on which the house stands. IaaS is the most basic of the three categories and each higher model abstracts from the details of the lower models.
You can see that many cloud services have become integral parts of our lives. We use Spotify or Zimly to stream music and use Dropbox to save important files. But it is not just SaaS that we use daily – many of the apps or products that we use are built on PaaS. Angry Birds and Khan Academy are built on Google App Engine. IaaS is even bigger part of our lives: Amazon S3 service is responsible for storing information for Dropbox, Minecraft, Tumblr, and Pinterest, just to name a few.
PaaS and IaaS is growing at an alarming 35% and 37% CAGR respectively. More companies are flocking to IaaS and PaaS to save cost on buying and managing hardware and software layers. Another benefit of cloud computing is that it is very scalable; when work demand rises, tasks can be cloned onto multiple virtual machines.
With the development of mobile devices, people want to access their data anywhere and anytime. Cloud computing has risen to meet those needs and it is going to continue to grow. Soon enough we may live in a world where nearly everything is stored virtually in a sea of 0s and 1s like the movie Matrix. The future that we’ve been dreaming about may not be so far away.
written by Kyungjun Eee