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Essay: The impact of cloud computing

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Cloud Computing has been changing not only the database management, but the entire business world. No doubt about that. Let’s try to analyze how is that cloud computing is completely revolutionizing the entire business operation model and landscape.

First, we need to understand the meaning of the word. What is cloud computing? Cloud computing is “Cloud computing is a method for delivering information technology (IT) services in which resources are retrieved from the Internet through web-based tools and applications, as opposed to a direct connection to a server. It’s called cloud computing because the information being accessed is found in “the cloud” and does not require a user to be in a specific place to gain access to it” .

Cloud computing has improved the mobility, improved collaboration, you can do more with less, it is always on availability, it is a more cost effective way, it has flexible capacity, flexible costs (costs are reduced, expenses can be quickly reduced), it affects the environment in a less severe way. Let’s talk about the just mentioned benefits.

Before, it’s safe to say that the system is not exactly a new technology. However, it seems to have accelerated over the recent years. That is because it all depends on how companies operate and their particular needs. For instance, the customers themselves are demanding a change and businesses need to adapt to these changes in order to keep up and not lose the edge. In fact, customers don’t want to wait for business hours to shop anymore. They demand 24 hours 7 days a week service. On top of that, they expect a good amount of entertainment in their experiences with the companies’ websites and that requires the firms to have a bandwidth large enough to host these big size files. All of what just mentioned above is a functionality of the cloud computing.

Employees are being another reason why cloud computing is continuously evolving and gaining more relevance. Nowadays, employees want to be able to work from home and no longer having to go to the office. These so called “remote employees” are now able to work from home and/or directly on their personal device as if they were in the office using the corporate systems.

Moreover, cloud computing service is giving the opportunity to store files using services such as “Google Drive” and “Dropbox” and to access emails from anywhere, any type of device. And not secondary, this system allows the backup of any kind of file in case of hard drive crash.

One of the most breakthrough of this technology is the benefit in terms of cost. It is a cost-effective technology where companies can finally save money not only on the system itself, but also on its operational costs like air conditioning, power and administration costs.

How is cloud computing affecting database management? Well, the latter has been overwhelmed with the arrival of Big Data and the immense quantity of unstructured and structure data. A growing number of people are utilizing the web day after day. Either for recreational purposes (e.g. social networks) or just within the business sphere. Since most of the corporations fail to store, collect and analyze all of this information, here is cloud computing coming into play.

Indeed, gaining access to the “cloud” gives the companies with limited budgets a viable solution.

Thereof, companies can achieve a more dynamic infrastructure that can satisfy the clients’ demands at any time. Moreover, the cloud would help the business to become cost-effective and smarter than ever through the access of information and technology, two cornerstones of the cloud computing.

Another essential advantage of the cloud is its manageability due to the centralized administration of the service. With that comes a simplification and improvement of the IT department as all the resources are maintained by the service provider.

Reliability is another important characteristic of the cloud. In fact, the service is way more consistent and reliable than any of the IT infrastructure existing a few years ago.

Summarizing, cloud computing, if implemented, induces less management efforts, decreases the overall costs and reduces downtime.

Other relevant advantages could be listed for cloud computing.

The service provides great flexibility in terms of storage options, security, scalability, tool selection and access to low cost IT resources.

Efficiency is another feature of the cloud. Efficiency in terms of data security, accessibility (data are accessible from literally anywhere and any device with an internet connection) and speed to market.

And, firms gain a strategic value adopting the technology. First of all, those who were brave enough to adopt the cloud computing technology usually gain a not irrelevant competitive advantage over other firms that did not implement this change. Indeed, the service allows the firm to focus on what really matters (its objectives and business activities) and forget about what’s behind the scenes (technology).

Also, strategic value in terms of collaboration between teams from all over the world and in terms of constant updates to the users on the new cutting-edge technology coming up.

The benefits of using a cloud computing encompass also the economies of scale (companies can achieve lower variable cost thanks to the huge number of users existing in the cloud. E.g.: Amazon Web Services)., an increase agility and speed of the resources’ retrieval, the benefit of going global in a matter of minutes providing not only a cheaper service form the company standpoint but also a better experience for the customer, the benefit of not having to worry about the limited capacity and the benefit of paying (and paying only for what has been consumed) only when the company decides to consume the computing resources.

As already mentioned, the cloud computing is completely shaking up the typical/standard IT and business model. If before traditional IT professionals were running the software and hardware, with the arrival of the cloud the number of people required to run the system has shrunk conspicuously. That lead also to no longer having to worry about the limited capacity of your system as with the cloud the cost of upscaling is not as relevant as it was before.

All of that also leads to a time used by the IT department in a much more productive way. Meaning that IT employees can now focus on products and technologies improvements. In fact, the real advantage of cloud computing is that nobody has to worry about the maintenance of the system anymore. The cloud has allowed the users to streamline their business so that they can actually be more efficient towards what really matters to them.

Another great trait of the software is its natural characteristic of not being an all or nothing proposition. Instead, companies can determine to what extent they need to intervene and update the IT department towards new technologies such as cloud computing. For instance, a company could easily say that the IT environment does not need to be completely replaced with the cloud, but it needs to be integrated selecting the right mix of cloud services and streamlining the current IT. The so called “hybrid environment” is often a valid solution for firms that are not looking to revolutionize the entire system.

And it is right here that the cloud computing’s flexibility comes into play (so that businesses won’t ever run out of sources): according to the business’s necessities, a company can establish if getting additional resources from the cloud (by paying for the amount used); accordingly, when a company is done and no longer needs the additional resources, it can shrink back to the capacity/state it was before.

Sticking with the word flexibility, cloud services give the users the choice to opt for a short or long-term flexibility. That includes the ability to accommodate consumer demands to the best of the company’s ability (for example, e-commerce could get very volatile for a company with periods of spikes and periods of no demand. The cloud services best handle these fluctuations in demands by reserving additional servers if needed).

Additionally, cloud computing can help uncover new insights. Indeed, analytics can now access business intelligence they were not able to access before the arrival to the cloud thanks to the interconnections of systems.

Last but not least, the environmental impact of the cloud (one of the most overlooked aspects of the cloud). The advanced of technology helped everyone on this Earth to be aware of the potential issues of polluting the environment and has grown green awareness. Therefore, now more than ever, companies need to be mindful and always look to improve their “green” credentials if they want to maintain a valuable reputation. With that being said, cloud computing is a tool that can help companies to become more environmentally friendly because the service implies fewer data center and more efficient operations. Being specific, cloud computing helps reduce a firm’s carbon footprint (could possibly cut carbon emission and energy use by 30 to 60 percent). It also contributes to dematerialization through making available virtual meeting via applications in large quantities. Therefore, the cloud services give companies the opportunity to help reduce the carbon footprint, mitigate consumption of energy and move toward a smarter, greener future.

Overall, it is safe to say that the advent of cloud computing has brought several advantages to the business world. Companies seeking to work more strategically, efficiently and smarter can now opt for the cloud system where users can have access to technology wherever and whenever they wish.

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