The Shift Toward Cloud Computing and the Role of Cloud Engineers
In recent years, there’s been a large shift toward increasing adoption of cloud computing technologies. Cloud computing can be used across a range of industries and in a wide variety of capacities, and enables businesses to change the way they make decisions, process data, organize internal operations, and much more.
Cloud computing has evolved over the last few decades to the increasingly advanced form we see today. While today’s cloud computing enables organizations to access powerful and scalable systems on demand, the future of cloud computing is likely to involve quickly evolving technology which will enable businesses to access even more powerful tools on demand.
What is Cloud Computing
To understand where cloud computing is today as well as the future of cloud computing, it can be helpful to take a look at what exactly cloud computing is. There are a few ways cloud computing has been defined. For example, IBM describes it as, “on-demand access, via the internet, to computing resources—applications, servers (physical servers and virtual servers), data storage, development tools, networking capabilities, and more—hosted at a remote data center managed by a cloud services provider (or CSP).”
Generally, cloud computing involves the remote access of services on computers or servers at data centers. This might be anything that could normally be done on a locally managed computer–such as creating or modifying files, running programs, accessing networks, and storing data.
Cloud computing can be used to enable organizations to use these resources without the burden of owning, managing and administering them. Cloud computing might be used to avoid IT challenges, utilize powerful resources that would be costly to outright purchase, backup data remotely in the event of data loss, and much more.
In the case of private cloud computing, a single organization may administer its own cloud computing. Organizations might manage and host their own cloud in order to allow remote access of critical resources within the organization but across various geographic locations, securely store data, and more. Private cloud computing can also be managed and hosted by a third party.
The History of Cloud Computing
Although cloud computing has become a buzz-word, this concept did not just drop out of the blue. In fact, the term “cloud” was used as early as 1994 when Andy Hertzfeld, formerly of Apple, used the word to describe the Telescript system being developed by General Magic.
Throughout the 2000s, tech giants such as Google and Amazon began building their own cloud services. As early as 2006, Amazon began offering Amazon Web Services, one of the early forms of the cloud computing we know today. In February 2010, Microsoft jumped into the cloud computing space with their offering, Microsoft Azure. IBM and Oracle would follow up with their own products in just a few years. Over time, these cloud services have become more widely adopted, and have evolved in both capability and scale.
Where Cloud Computing is Today
Cloud computing today encompasses a wide range of services and technologies that are used across many industries. We’ll discuss types and benefits of cloud computing, including private, public, multi cloud, and hybrid. These classifications describe how cloud computing is managed and administered. There are also different types of cloud computing services commonly used by organizations. Common models for these services include Software as a Service, or SaaS, Platform as a Service, or PaaS, and Infrastructure as a Service, or IaaS.
Types of Cloud computing:
- Private Cloud: This is a cloud computing service that isn’t publicly available. It might be managed in-organization, or managed by a third party service provider, but in either case a private cloud can offer an organization more control over the cloud in terms of security and management.
- Public Cloud: This is a publicly available cloud computing service that can be accessed by anyone who can pay for it. Some notable examples include Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and IBM Cloud.
- Multi Cloud: Sometimes, an organization might use multiple cloud services, which may be provided by distinct service providers. A multi cloud approach integrates multiple cloud services, and may offer organizations more flexibility.
- Hybrid cloud: A hybrid cloud approach uses both cloud and non-cloud computing in order to carry out tasks. A hybrid cloud approach might involve an organization storing some data on local computers and some data on remote computers, or storing information locally but using remote programs or network infrastructure.
Models of Cloud Computing Services:
- SaaS: Software as a Service, or SaaS, is a model wherein service providers offer organizations use of a program on demand. This service enables organizations to use programs remotely without the need to install them locally, or even own the software outright. Instead, users can pay a fee for on-demand access to software as needed. You likely already utilize a number of SaaS products such as Google Workspace apps, Microsoft 365, or Netflix.
- IaaS: IaaS, or Infrastructure as a Service, allows organizations to use infrastructure that they don’t need to own or manage. For example, Amazon Web Services offers IaaS services so that you can utilize their powerful hardware devices (i.e., servers) on a pay-as-you-go basis. IaaS sell themselves with benefits to consumers such as near-perfect reliability to ensure confidence in their systems.
- PaaS: PaaS, or Platform as a Service offers users a platform they can use for tasks such as software development without the need to store and manage all the programs and data that would normally require. This can enable businesses and other organizations to very quickly create and deploy software and more. One example of an organization employing the PaaS model is Adobe with Adobe Commerce. Adobe Commerce provides a cloud-based platform that ecommerce businesses can use to construct their own sites.
These service models and types of cloud computing are not necessarily mutually exclusive–nor are they exclusively the only cloud computing types or service models that exist. For example, an organization could adopt a multi-cloud, hybrid-cloud, PaaS approach to developing a new application. This might look like that organization doing some development on local systems, storing data on one cloud service, doing programming using another cloud service, and using a platform service that offers critical network infrastructure, as well as software, and other cloud services.
Industries that use cloud computing todayToday, cloud computing, in some form, is used in nearly any industry you can imagine. Still, it can be helpful to explore a few of the industries using cloud computing today.
- Finance: financial institutions and businesses offering financial services often must store and manage vast amounts of user data which can be particularly valuable. The financial industry heavily relies on cloud computing to securely store and manage data.
- Healthcare: Cloud computing can be an invaluable asset to healthcare organizations when it comes to collaborative care with patients. Cloud computing can enable doctors to remotely access patient data, patients to remotely submit information, and even help healthcare organizations offer telehealth services and other remote healthcare services.
- Gaming: While game developers, like any other business, might rely on cloud services to collaborate on projects, store data remotely, and more, the gaming industry has found its own novel uses for cloud services as well; some companies offer remote gaming cloud services that enable players to stream even very demanding games on hardware that normally wouldn’t be able to support them, using remote hardware.
- Numerous other industries: It wouldn’t be feasible to make a comprehensive list here of every single industry that can utilize cloud computing, as cloud computing comprises a vast set of services widely used, around the globe, and in nearly every industry. Suffice it to say, cloud computing is widely used in business, and will likely continue to be in the future.
The future of cloud computingThough different businesses approach cloud computing differently, we might expect to see organizations increasingly adopting and relying on cloud computing services in order to operate. As adoption of cloud computing continues, we’ll also likely see the technologies that drive cloud computing evolve. Machine learning and AI might also be increasingly adopted as means for organizing and processing vast amounts of data across cloud systems.
A need for cloud software engineers
Should organizations continue to adopt cloud services rapidly, we can expect to see a need for cloud software engineers across many sectors. Since cloud computing is such a vast field, and so is the software engineering behind it, cloud computing jobs will probably be highly varied.
Some software engineers working on cloud systems might develop software remotely and work from home, while others might work at data centers and help ensure that software is working correctly with the right hardware. Still others might work in hybrid positions, working from home some of the time and working at data centers or offices other times. Software engineers in high demand might also look forward to competitive salaries.
The bottom line
Cloud computing has become a vast practice that’s used in nearly every industry. It has also enabled individual users to access a vast range of applications, storage solutions and hardware, enabling them to stream games, entertainment, and much more.
As such, cloud computing represents, itself, a vast industry with a need for professionals such as cloud computing software engineers. If you’re interested in becoming a software engineer, or you want to sharpen your skills and learn more, be sure to check out our software engineering course, or if you just want to learn more about what software engineering is like, our prep course!
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