Cloud Computing architecture is defined as the various components that make up a cloud service. These components basically consist of front end platforms and backend platforms all connected through a network (Dodani, 2009). These platforms interact with the cloud storage through applications, web browsers, or virtual sessions.
Front End Platforms
Front end platforms are the client part of cloud computing system. These platforms are basically the user section of cloud computing. It is made up of interfaces and applications that enable the users (clients) to gain access to the cloud platforms. Different Cloud Computing platforms use different interfaces like Mozilla Firefox or google chrome can offer support for email programs (Dodani, 2009).
Back End Platforms
The back end platforms refer to the cloud computing side that is used by the service providers. It consists of the resources that have been put in place to provide the actual cloud computing services. The back end platforms consist of computers, servers, virtual machines and data storage systems. The backend platform also consists of different computer programs with each of these programs being managed by its own dedicated servers (Dodani, 2009).
The Various Applications of Cloud Computing
The Education Sector
Cloud computing has over the years, become an attractive option for delivering education services to learning institutions. This is because cloud computing offers more security, reliability, and makes more economic sense. With the adoption of cloud services, an institution is able to reduce the face to face learning sessions and replace them with other cloud provided exercises that may include classes that use pictorial and auditory illustrations (Sultan, 2010).
Cloud computing also opens avenues for better research, collaborations and sharing of knowledge. Since cloud computing is able to provide desktop environment through a software it minimizes the installation, running and maintenance costs that are usually associated with computer hardware. Furthermore, Cloud computing enables classes to be run and administered on remote locations. ( Alshuwaier, Alshwaier, & Areshey,2012) Cloud computing also offers a host of other benefits to the education sector, these are as follows;
· Reduced cost of accessing learning materials: Textbooks that are stored in the cloud and offered to students at a reduced cost can enable more students to access learning materials, this was impossible in the older days mainly due to prohibitively expensive textbooks. Digital content not as expensive to acquire as compared to printed materials. This therefore means that low income students can have better access to quality learning materials.
· Up to date learning materials: Learning materials that are stored within the cloud materials to update. This means that students are able to have access learning materials that are current
· Reduced costs of hardware and software: One advantage of cloud computing is that most of the applications based on this clouds can be accessed via the internet, most smartphones today are equipped to access the internet just as well as any other laptop, furthermore, the availability if cloud storage means that students do not need to have external storage for their data. This reduces the cost of education for both learners and educators. Furthermore, most software like Google docs and Microsoft services can be available for free or on a flexible subscription service.
File backup and storage
Cloud services provide users with good storage for their files. It also enables easy access and retrieval of the files through any web-enabled device. Therefore, at the convenience of the user and with the availability of a high speed and secure network, a user is able to access and use his or her files. This means that clients need only pay for the total storage space that they would have used. What makes cloud storage even more applicable is that the user does not have to worry about acquiring or maintaining storage infrastructure.
Cloud services also provide backup services to users. This provides the users with the opportunity to store any important documents without having to worry about space and cost of storage infrastructure as was the case in the past days where backup meant maintaining a series of tapes and/or drives form where the information would be stored and the manually sending them to external facility. Of course this set up was prone to problems such as disk loss or damage.
The Business Environment
Cloud computing services that are meant for businesses are aimed at providing the user with resources such as hardware, software and networks through innovative web based applications located within the cloud. Currently most organizations that were using traditional infrastructures have begun to shift towards cloud based services. This is because these companies realized that availing IT resources available to the end user can be a very intensive process, mainly because It requires many steps, from procuring hardware to finding the right floor space, facilitating sufficient power and cooling, installation of soft wares and operating systems, and providing the network (Marston, Li, Bandyopadhyay, Zhang & Ghalsasi, 2011).
A cloud service is able to reduce these problems by enabling automation, creating business work flows and providing abstraction of resources. All these procedures allow the client user to access various IT services in a Secure environment. In addition to these, cloud models can offer the following advantages in a business environment:
· With cloud computing an organization does not need to have physical infrastructure, this enables the company to provide efficient energy utility based on the organization’s necessities.
· Cloud computing provides companies with a degree of flexibility. This means that a company can buy the application that they need today and scale their usage to adapt to future changes.
· Cloud computing gives smaller companies the opportunity to use enterprise applications that would have previously unaffordable. This enables the companies to compete competitively with larger competitors.
· The costs and fees that come with using the cloud are predictable, this allows companies to factor it into their budget making sufficient preparation for the implementation.
· The cloud has improved the way by which employees can interact amongst themselves and with the clients. The reason behind is that information is not locked into physical devices and infrastructure instead. File-sharing and work-flow within the cloud enhances communications efficiency and collaboration.
For most internet users, the one thing that continuously bring them to the internet is entertainment. Cloud computing offers a platform that can enable service providers to reach a variety of consumers. Entertainment that is provided from the cloud is able to reach any device and offer better sound and picture quality. Currently, consumers have the option of searching the internet ‘On Demand’ that may include news, video games, and audio products. Cloud companies that have ventured into the entertainment industry include; Internet giants like Netflix, Amazon and YouTube. Cloud Computing is able to provide the level of storage on demand as well as the computing power that would be paid for according to usage. This would be a perfect solution to the huge requirements in computing and storage needed to provide true on demand entertainment.