Head in the Clouds: Cloud computing

Head in the Clouds…

The Cloud computing technology plays a key role in the digital transformation process in Italy as well as the rest of the world. It is a reality that is now growing exponentially. Analysts estimate that from now and until 2010, the global market of cloud technology will increase at an average rate of +13.3% per year.
Cloud computing is basically an advanced form of technological outsourcing. Companies trust external providers to manage one or more of their IT resources so that they do not need to purchase software, hardware, network system or other expensive systems such as an entire data center.
The Cloud service provider manages the entire infrastructure and service distribution for consumers as required based on a ‘per use’ payment method. In a nutshell, the consumer simply subscribes to the cloud platform that is most appropriate to their data management needs.


The Pros & Cons of using Cloud computing.

There are several ways in which consumers can benefit from using the cloud services:

  • The initial investment can be reduced to a minimum due to the tailor-made payment and subscription methods used.
  • No need to invest in hardware whether it be for the purchasing or maintenance of such hardware.
  • Costs can be adapted over time to the effective necessity of data center use without running the risk of inappropriate development planning that would otherwise result in obtaining an inadequate infrastructure. If costs do not correspond to effective use over time, the data center may become too expensive to use and if used inefficiently, or limited in the services it provides, it will inevitably need continuous expansion or replacement.
  • The provider should be responsible for taking measures to ensure resilient data center operativity, hardware maintenance, continuous data center surveillance, cost effective power supply and cooling.
  • Hardware repair times, upgrading substitution are eliminated and, therefore, so are the problems of getting hold of unavailable spare parts.
  • IT organization is relieved of a series of responsibilities and costs can be devoted to an analytical process.

However, there are some disadvantages and potential risks in using them as well:

  • Fully reliant on connections: if the internet connection is scarce or unreliable, the application will be unusable;
  • Provider Trustworthiness: what happens if the provider cannot deliver their services, interrupt or close their activity?
  • Vendor lock-in: migrating from one cloud solution to a local one can be difficult and expensive.
  • The company is bound in some ways to the provider who delivers the services.
  • Privacy and compliance: norms and regulations may require that corporate data reside within the company, or made unavailable to third parties, especially those who reside in countries who do not enforce privacy laws to the same level of standard expected.


How safe are data in the cloud?

There are certain risks attached to using the Cloud concerning the loss and disclosure of sensitive company data.   One of the main causes related to this disservice concerns the lack of distinct rules of behavior within the company.  Security in the cloud is relative but can only be increased by adopting policies that both the service provider and consumer company can agree to share.  Companies that use the cloud should also define strategies to implement the GDPR which stipulate certain requirements to be met when managing data in the cloud.

These elements can align with and be beneficial to the overall company strategy in favor of digital transformation programs: we are all well aware that the criteria used for data security and management overlap in cases of data violation.

Nevertheless, many companies are still reluctant to concede their data to the cloud because they doubt cloud computing safety.  Although this is understandable even though today’s cloud computing security has improved enormously when used correctly and can be said to be more reliable than traditional IT platforms installed locally.  As security costs are divided between great numbers of cloud data center customers, the providers are able to apply more resources as physical, technical and operational security measures than most companies can do.  Most reputed providers offer data protection in their cloud computing system by replicating data in several types of data storage centers.   The level of security that the cloud service provider can offer its customers is certainly superior to that of any company could provide on the premises.


Cloud computing types

There are five different types of cloud computing services that offer users different computing and data storage solutions:

  • IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service):this solution as a service provides companies with computing resources such as hardware components, which include CPU or hard disk, or an entire data center on a pay-per-use basis.  Therefore, the user only rents the number of CPU/hard disk/GPU that they effectively need.  The classical web hosting services are a clear example of what Infrastructure as a Service is: the user rents the company’s data storage devices on a monthly or yearly subscription.
  • SaaS (Software as a Service):this solution provides cloud-based applications or software as a service which are run distant computers ‘in the cloud’.  These applications are used on-line and do not need installing on your computer.  Google Documents is a classical example to this.
  • PaaS (Platform as a Service):this solution provides a cloud-based environment using both IaaS and SaaS. The customer can develop applications using different brands of web-based tools, which do not have to be installed on their machine, and also their own hardware, which is used for running the software product and/or storing the consequent data. The Google App Engine is an example of this.
  • iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service): this solution provides a service that offers IT platforms for integrating data, applications, services and processes. These type of platforms usually have less features than those used on the premises but they are easier to use. They provide developer tool sets and a portfolio of prepackaged integrations and have lately started integrating functions to manage API.  These platforms are ideal for supporting cloud-to-cloud and mobile-to-cloud integration and are often used by large business-to-business (B2B) enterprises that need to integrate on-premises applications and data with cloud applications with data.  They offer a more simple development environment in respect to those used on the premises consenting users to create ad hoc integrations for specific projects.

DaaS (Desktop As a Service): of all the cloud services this is among the most fast growing distribution models.  After a slow startup, the DaaS market is now growing significantly due to efforts made by providers, such as Microsoft, Amazon, VMware and Citrix, who are heavily investing in this area of offerings. Since data and applications broke their ties with desktops and started allowing accessibility from various fixed or mobile devices, new ways to create and develop have come into being.  We are entering a new era of workspace in cloud computing that consents to a maximum level of data sharing and collaboration with low costing ownership.


New professional figures emerge

These changes also have a great influence on the job market where there is now a high demand for those who specialize in cloud technology thus creating new kinds of professions.  However, the availability of those specializing in this field of technology can only satisfy 10% of the demand by organizations in need of them at the most. Surveys were recently carried out to discover what these new posts of work involve and their importance to the various organizations now using cloud technology to help run their businesses. The organizations taking part in this survey rated their interest in these new roles of work on a scale of 0% to 100% to reveal that:

The Cloud security specialist came tops with 32% interest shown by companies investing in cloud technology.  This person is responsible for creating and coordinating a strategy that ensures security of both internal systems and Cloud services by closing the gap between the organization’s in-house security manager demands and those of the provider.

The Cloud Architect (with 30%) is responsible for managing the Cloud computing architecture by keeping it aligned with that of the organization’s through creating a Cloud Adoption strategy and coordinating the adaptation process.

The Cloud Specialist (with 27%) has the role of supporting the Cloud adaptation and migration processes by analyzing the organization’s real needs and selecting the most adequate technology based on their professional knowledge and experience in the Cloud market.

The other professionals within this field include the Cloud Operations Administrator (with 25%), the Cloud Systems Engineer (with 25%) and the Cloud Native DevOps Engineer (with 17%).


The Progea Cloud.

The Platform.NExT technology has been purposely designed to meet all the Industrial Internet of Things requirements. It offers an ecosystem composed of a data collection platform and IoT protocols adapted to the various needs and which include PubNub, OPC IoT Azure and MQTT. The Cloud Progea platform is based on a solution designed for the Cloud and IoT with everlasting safe and performing data storage.  It implements the use of new generation non-relational databases that have been especially designed for handling Big Data.  The platform integrates perfectly with the other software technology developed by Progea, such as the Connextdata server and the SCADA/HMI systems of Movicon.NExT. It therefore permits you to connect to real-time data arriving from the different field devices using the integrated and safe IIoT protocols.  This big data can then be recorded and used for Cloud-based Business Analytics which is facilitated with user friendly dashboards.

Mauro Brandoli

Key Accout Progea srl

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