Emerging Advances in Cloud Services
Just as mobile technology has fundamentally changed the way that people interact online – from being stuck in a cubicle with a PC, to being able to go anywhere and remain connected – so, too, have cloud services been changing large-infrastructure networks and how they are used in business. It wasn’t so long ago that companies beyond a certain size had to have dedicated network hardware solutions for their information and communication networks, be it for external interface or simply for an internal network.
That’s what cloud services are now trying to address. Just as mobile technology has shrunk the main interface from a desktop PC to a mobile device like a tablet or a smartphone, cloud services today point towards the possibility of complete reliance on virtual business applications, networks, and solutions in the office. In other words, the true virtual office.
Emerging trends in cloud services today:
Hybrid cloud services
One legitimate concern about using cloud services has always been security. This can be a very important factor in cloud service acceptance, particularly since company employees do tend to send confidential information to each other, when for example, working on team projects.
Hybrid cloud services solve this issue, either by combining an external cloud service network with an internal, separate cloud service, or an external cloud service with an internal hardware-based network. In this way, sensitive data simply won’t be available to the external cloud, either because of access levels or because certain files will only be accessible from within the office.
Cloud services will become essential, especially now that many appliances and gadgets are using online connections for expanded features and operations. This combination of intelligent machine data, big data analytics, and front-end user applications will surely benefit from the use of cloud services. Operations can be monitored and controlled, particularly for power efficiency and for proper operation to ensure a minimum of maintenance activity. And that’s not even considering how operational data can be sent to a cloud server for analytics processing.
Its very possible that cloud services will be the precursor for next-generation devices and appliances that will be controlled from a central location.
This approach has actually been tried before, by both Microsoft and Apple, where the idea is that rather than let an app install into your hard-drive, you can now just access the app’s functions from a browser. You can see the philosophy behind this in the back-end dashboards of website hosting providers, and e-mail platforms. You can even argue that the back-end dashboards for hosted e-commerce platforms are a form of this. And that’s the important point with this idea. By using cloud-based technology, even basic apps like an office productivity suite can now be accessed from cloud servers, leaving you with less programs committed to your actual device’s memory. Admittedly, this sort of cloud application works more for mobile devices, than they would for desktop PCs.
Enterprise IT vs. BYOD
As the concept of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is becoming more and more popular, it’s becoming a headache for company IT teams, given the issues of security that inevitably crop up. However, that’s where cloud-based services may come in useful, by being able to merge with personal cloud services (such as Dropbox), and still manage to be reasonably secure with confidential company information. This isn’t as far-fetched as you might think, as people usually use their personal cloud storage for data synchronization, streaming and storage. That’s very much what enterprise-level storage is all about, with some added scale and security features. It’s no surprise, then, that the issue will be more of integration, rather than segregation of personal devices away from the business network.
Platform as a service (PaaS) applications are similar to web-based apps, but for a larger scale. In terms of companies, that includes VoIP networks, legacy-capable communication networks, and even e-mail management platforms, to say nothing of e-commerce platforms for company websites, all running from the cloud.
The appeal of PaaS is rather obvious. Instead of a large budget for a physical network structure, all you will need is a reliable Internet connection combined with the proper end-equipment, like mobile devices, PC’s, VoIP phones, and telefax/printer devices. It’s also appealing from another point of view: it will simplify moving offices for expansion purposes, as the IT team will be able to access the cloud services from the new location, and then set the whole system up for the office again without having to worry about physical servers.
Just like PaaS, high-end graphics applications answer a need for users to minimize or lower the hardware costs associated with using programs that by nature require heavy computing power or the proper hardware. In this case, cloud-based graphics technology has also been co-opted, from actual applications that use cloud servers, to hardware that can interface with cloud-based services to boost their performance. One good example is how AMD and Nvidia will allow users to run high-detail graphics with the aid of an HTML5 browser.
Security and Identity
This will surely be a major trend in cloud services for enterprise-level clients – as mentioned earlier, this is the reason why some corporate IT teams dislike the idea of cloud services, and also why the idea of hybrid cloud services was created. This is actually more complicated than some people would think, as it not only addresses end-user security like passwords and access to corporate resources from mobile devices and tablets. Security and identity technologies have to find ways to encrypt the data while it is in transit, and at the same time, allow for multiple levels of security so that certain data simply won’t go out into the external company cloud (a feature of hybrid cloud services).
It’s not unlikely that aside from actual technologies, new company-culture security policies and guidelines will be part of the whole security package for cloud services, perhaps even going as far as to have total control over access points to the internal company cloud, so to speak.
Clear for Clouds
As you can see, cloud services are essential no matter how you look at it. The emerging trend in cloud services is to move away from burdensome physical data structures and towards highly secure virtual cloud networks.
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