In today’s technology driven world, cloud computing plays an ever-increasing role in our day-to-day lives. Without realizing it, we are connected to the cloud as part of our daily routine – like checking the fitness tracker after a morning run, accessing emails, shopping online, cloud backup, and watching movies online. The information delivery dashboards and interfaces we see on our smart phones or tablets, are the result of diverse applications working seamlessly together in the background to present requested information in a user friendly manner.
For accessing the cloud, all you need is a device that connects to the Internet using a browser. The hardware / software on the device becomes the gateway to the cloud which, through the browser, accesses the cloud environment and/or applications. These devices (or “clients”) can be categorized into three main buckets, namely: mobile clients, thin clients, and thick clients.
Mobile clients such as smart phones and tablets, make up a large portion of the devices that connect to the cloud service.
Thin clients are computers, which are dependent on the cloud servers for computing power and for information access and storage.
Thick clients are computers with most resources installed locally, but, connect to the cloud through the Internet to perform some of their tasks and/or access data that is stored from other client devices on the network.
An important component of cloud computing is the data center. It is a dedicated space that houses the hardware for the cloud and also provides the communication infrastructure. These data centers host the application and storage servers. They are connected through high speed Gigabit Ethernet to leverage the full computation potential of these machines. The servers are also often virtualized and replicated to provide user scalability. These locations are often highly secure and are strongholds that can protect the infrastructure from any natural elements. They deliver economies of scale as multiple users can use the same facility for a similar purpose.
Cloud service providers offer additional applications and services, which often play a key role in determining the popularity of the product. These services may include deployment of coders, for development of customized application platforms or 24 x 7 help lines. A rich end user experience is a function of the application development / customization of the environment provided by the service provider for exclusive benefit of the end user. The level of service provided is determined by the Service Level Agreements (SLAs) between the service provider and the subscriber or end user. If the SLAs and deliveries are not optimal, it can result in a poor end user experience, despite a robust application development.
The final crucial component of cloud infrastructure is the network connecting the data centers with each other. Users have to connect to the data centers and the servers must efficiently connect to other servers within a data center. The networks can be through LAN or WAN or VPN. The speed of operation of this network is critical for a seamless cloud computing experience.