Cloud computing provides technological capabilities on demand in the form of services (services) over the Internet. Unlike classical computing models, which mainly rely on their own software and hardware resources, the cloud model consists of services, clients, centrally managed content, and virtual machines.
In other words, you do not need to download, run and maintain software and store data on your own computers, you just need to connect to the system and use its capacity in the provider’s cloud. In addition to the global network, this concept is applicable to more closed corporate systems through the formation of a private or combined cloud.
Cloud computing is an important trend in the development of modern IT technologies, affecting almost all areas, including the GIS community. For many users, this can be a more efficient solution to support the computing infrastructure. In addition, for many government agencies and corporate clients, it will provide a solution to manage their data without the need for full administration of firmware.
How Cloud Computing Works
The technology of cloud infrastructures and the introduction of cloud computing is gradually becoming a reality and, according to experts, have great development prospects. This type of service applies to all areas related to the provision and distribution of capacity, both hardware and software through networks. Support for the models of such services and the deployment of such technologies and architectures is one of the important areas of current development by a number of companies, including ESRI.
There are several definitions of cloud computing, but they all describe some of the basic properties of this rapidly evolving software and hardware environment designed to provide new technological capabilities delivered on-demand as interactive services over the Internet. Moreover, cloud services are owned and operated by third-party organizations, their clients do not have any assets in the cloud model but pay for the services provided to them depending on the intensity of their use.
Essentially, they lease the physical architecture and applications within a common collaborative architecture. Cloud capabilities can range from creating and accessing data warehouses to working with end-user web applications and other specialized computing services.
One of the fundamental differences between traditional and cloud computing is the more flexible (elastic) nature of the latter. Instead of static system architecture, cloud computing supports rapid, dynamic scaling to provide cloud customers with high reliability, responsiveness, and the flexibility to serve to change traffic based on their current needs.
In addition, cloud computing supports a variety of lease options and types, allowing you to configure your system so that both individuals and multiple organizations can interact with it simultaneously. The strong virtuality of this technology allows cloud service providers to transform one server into many virtual machines, thereby removing the limitations of client-server computing within single-tasking systems.
This dramatically improves the efficiency of loading hardware and allows customers to choose the most economical solution in terms of scale and cost. The cloud computing environment supports three basic options for the service delivery model.
Software as a service (Software as a Service, abbr. Of SaaS) – involves the provision of end-user applications as a service “on-demand” instead of installing it on a particular workplace or on your own server. A typical example of SaaS services is Salesforce.com, which provides Internet access to a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.
Platform as a Service (PaaS) – provides a platform and/or middleware (middleware) in the form of service on which the development and deployment of custom applications are possible. Typical solutions of this type are application programming interfaces (APIs) and tools, as well as databases and workflow systems, and integrated security tools. These solutions enable developers to build applications and run them on infrastructure owned and maintained by the cloud provider. An example of a PaaS platform solution is Microsoft’s, Windows Azure.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – covers hardware and technology for computer computing and data storage, operating systems, and other infrastructure that is provided not as local resources, but indirectly – through access to services hosted on the side provider; examples are Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) or Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3).
The Hardware as a Service (HaaS) model is also known, but it is rather a subtype of the IaaS model.
Each of the listed categories (service models) can be used independently or in combination with other options for service links.
According to analysts of the research and consulting company Gartner, the volume of the global market for cloud services in 2009 reached almost $ 60 billion, and in three years it may grow to $ 150 billion. So far, this market is dominated by the segment of “cloud” business processes: advertising, electronic commerce, human resources, and accounting.
And the main players in the provision of cloud advertising services are Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc. The segment of services for the construction and support of IT infrastructure is still less developed, but still, it is already the first billions of dollars with a near-term prospect of 10 billion.
Benefits of the cloud
Cloud computing can help organizations improve cost efficiency and productivity, as well as information resource flexibility, quickly deploy new capacity, and reallocate investments.
The pay-as-you-go model, depending on current needs, can be quite attractive when renting cloud applications or capacity (infrastructure), it provides cloud customers with a promising “try before buy” option. And those who have already become a client of the cloud can make a prepayment for services and receive possible discounts for the volume of the order, make and link the corresponding budget items in advance.
Asset lease eliminates or postpones the need to create your own data collection and processing centers through the use of those provided by the cloud provider; at the same time, the client may not think about the urgent purchase of software and hardware, their maintenance and updating, administration and support.
Summarizing the above, it can be noted that over the past 50 years, computer computing has been based on five basic platforms: mainframes, minicomputers, personal computers and servers, and mobile devices based on them (phones, etc.). A sixth type is now emerging, the cloud platform, which is attracting more and more attention and gaining its place under the Sun.