Cloud computing (CC) technologies have firmly entered the lives of regular people. A poll conducted in the United States showed that 54% of respondents believe that they have never used cloud technology. In fact, the situation is completely different – more than 95% of Internet users use cloud technology without even knowing it. For example, we use them when watching online videos, playing online games, downloading music via iTunes, viewing mail on Gmail, or logging in to Facebook.
We are using more and more powerful and resource-intensive programs that require more and more powerful hardware for their work. We have to deal with more data, and this data needs to be kept somewhere. Enormous computing power and huge volumes of disk space are concentrated in modern data centres. Modern software and communication channels allow servers located on different continents to work as a whole. All you need to do is create a convenient access system, and then the whole array of this power can be given to those who need it. Virtualization tools allow you to divide computing power between individual consumers in any proportion. Thus, modern custom web development is mostly focused on the integration of cloud computing solutions.
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The key directions of cloud computing technologies and development
Some products simply provide clients with certain web services such as storage systems, collaboration support, middleware, and databases. But in general, when speaking about the cloud computing technologies, it usually means one of the below forms:
- Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) gives access to use its virtual infrastructure to independently control the processing, storing, and alternative activities, for example, the client may install and run particular programs that may include operating systems, web platforms and apps;
- Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) is an option offering the customer the chance to use the CC solutions to host basic software for further deployment of new or existing apps;
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is a model in which the client is allowed to use the software of a cloud-based provider, which is accessible via browser or the app interface;
Additionally, some other ways of implementation are as described below:
- Serverless and Function-as-a-Service (FaaS) helps to offload computing and storage on different platform;
- Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) offers each user a standard remote workstation, with the ability to configure and install other programs;
- Communications-as-a-Service (CaaS) – a mixture of hardware and software providing all possible communication types (voice, email) between employees of a certain enterprise through third-party solutions.
- Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS) and Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (MBaaS) helps to offload the computing task on different server/platform;
- Database-as-a-Service (DaaS)
Considering the above-mentioned, we can come up with the conclusion that when integrating cloud computing, IT customers may significantly save on capital expenses – to build data infrastructure, buy some server and network equipment, software and hardware tools, while ensuring smooth performance – as these costs are put onto the cloud computing service provider.
The Use of Cloud Computing for Software Development
The obvious pros of cloud based tools include the idea that the developers can get a larger share of the market by implementing these technologies. Here are only some pros of cloud computing, which allow the web apps to develop dramatically:
- Scalability – if the app could be scaled in the future, it can handle more customers at once;
- Cost-effectiveness – cloud solutions allow abandoning the deployment of local or remote data centres;
- Opportunity to choose any service model – you are free to choose whether to deploy your app on SaaS, IaaS, or PaaS basis;
- No geographical limits – unlike you use the cloud based solutions, your app will be confined to certain geolocation. Cloud solutions allow you to reach any audience across the world.
The main consumers of SaaS are small and medium-sized businesses. Most SaaS apps are designed to support collaboration between employees, working together to solve common problems. The architecture of SaaS apps, in which a single instance of the application running on the server, serves multiple consumers, is multi-tenant, i.e., each consumer in the process of performing tasks is given a copy of the virtual app. Here are some examples of such solutions:
- Office Web Apps (Google Docs, Office Online/Microsoft OneDrive);
- Communications (Gmail, Google Hangouts, Cloud PBX, MDM);
- Security (Panda Cloud Email Protection, McAfee SaaS Email Protection, Comfort Mobile Security);
- Collaboration and Multi-tenant (Google Docs, Office 365, Office Web Apps), etc.
PaaS model offers a software platform and its maintenance as a service, which consists of:
- OS – network operating system (Unix systems, Solaris/SunOS);
- Database – database management system (MySQL, Microsoft SQL, Oracle);
- Middleware – middle layer software that is designed to enable interoperability between different apps, systems, and elements;
- Software development tools and testing – for creating web apps in coding languages: Python, Java, PHP, Ruby, JS for Node.js;
- App server – an application server for developing, testing, debugging, and running web apps.
Infrastructure as a service is a corporate level solution for enterprises of different scales. The infrastructure can be located both in the data centre of the enterprise and in the external data centre. IaaS services are designed to create and use secure private, public, and hybrid cloud environments. Providers can provide hybrid cloud configurations that combine LANs in the customer’s office with cloud platform networks.
The cloud environment can be created based on Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure, IBM x86, VMware, EMC, open-source OpenStack solutions, etc., which allow you to turn the data centre into a dynamic IT environment. In addition, remote databases are used for cloud computing, i.e., databases that run on cloud platforms. Both SQL-oriented models and NoSQL data models are used as cloud databases.
As you can see, cloud computing brings a lot of benefits to web application developers. Which in turn helps to concentrate on the main work. Take your time to learn more about cloud computing solutions before creating your own app.