Cloud computing as part of digitalization
The performance of our computer systems continues to grow. A simple wisdom that has always been correct since the construction of the first computer, and which has changed very little over time. The computing power increased, the space requirement decreased and also the prices became so affordable that many families could soon afford their own computer. Lately, with the shrinking of modern devices to the format of a mobile phone, computing power was available to everyone. But whether for private individuals, companies or public authorities, the procedure has always been the same: a computer with the highest possible performance is purchased for as little money as possible. Once it is in our possession, we can use it to whatever we have in mind.
However, just as digital transformation is changing all areas of our lives, it also covered this market: Why should I spend money on a computer, take over space requirements, maintenance, operating costs, etc., when I can also directly acquire what is actually interesting, namely the computing power itself? Cloud computing starts right here.
What is digitization?
Digitalization is, quite soberly speaking, simply the transfer of formerly analogue processes to digital ones. Even if we are currently encountering these and similar terms more, it is a very old and simple process: for example, the telegram, i.e. the sending of messages through a telegraph system, is a form of digitization. In this case, the analogous process of the letter was digitized – and already in the eighteenth century!
Almost every form of digitalization is rewarded with efficiency gains, cost reductions and new, unprecedented opportunities. No wonder we humans have always been very interested in her. Due to the accelerating technical progress and the mutual support (new technologies enable new technologies …) digitalization has gained so much speed in recent years that it has now penetrated into all areas of our lives and is indispensable from there. This digital transformation is a technological, socio-cultural, economic and intellectual process that brings with it gigantic upheavals.
The digital transformation in particular creates unprecedented opportunities for companies – but it also lurks with considerable dangers!
What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is the 21st-century version of the simple idea of buying only milk instead of holding a cow. By directly purchasing technical services such as storage space or computing power over the Internet, we save ourselves the high costs that would otherwise be associated with it: Our company does not have to operate its own data center (including acquisition costs for equipment, electricity costs, personnel, room rental…) and even private individuals no longer need a high-performance computer to benefit from strong computer services. Thanks to fast broadband Internet connections, the required performance can instead be easily delivered and retrieved from any data center around the world. Service providers deliver the required computing operations – to the extent required and exactly when they are needed. Thanks to the volume effect, the price ranges of such offers are often very attractive and the elimination of the enormous effort for operation and maintenance and the otherwise high demands on the own IT team make cloud computing interesting for many companies.
Cloud computing offers companies many new opportunities…
Processing of the new, huge amounts of data
Big data and digitalization are inextricably linked. Only with a sufficient amount and quality of data will it be possible to realize the digital products, services and optimizations that are so sought after today. At the same time, it is these processes that in turn generate new, valuable data sets. A continuous cycle that can generate sustainable value for companies.
With the ever-widening use of big data, however, the demands on in-house computing power are also increasing enormously: from the huge databases whose access times should remain low to the astronomical numbers of computing operations needed for the use of neural networks – digital data processing needs power!
Providing this service in-house brings many companies with insoluble difficulties. The regular purchase of high-performance components alone can exceed many IT budgets. Cloud computing provides a remedy for this, as many aspects that used to cause headaches are now eliminated: backups of the databases are carried out by the service provider, computing power can be booked flexibly and even the most demanding operations are thus possible. Big data and digitalization are a dream couple – and cloud computing helps them to ensure that there is no dispute in the relationship.
Cloud computing offers you a great advantage that also finds its way into other areas of life: why buy something and stand around 24 hours a day that they only need for X hours a day? Car-sharing providers or new game consoles that produce the video game experience in a data center and transmit it online to the console work on the same principle.
Since they only pay for the actual computing power (and not for the actual machines behind them), you don’t have a “downtime” in which your expensive corporate data center is in savings mode. On the contrary, cloud computing providers will use the performance that is free while your development team is blissfully dormant in a different time zone, ensuring device utilization. This intelligent use of servers can keep cloud computing costs so low in the first place.
At the same time, if necessary, a gigantic power reserve is available. Do you need a huge computing power for a large project for a short time? No problem, the available capacities adapt to your requirements. It must, of course, pay for this extra service; however, the costs will be much lower than if you were to upgrade your in-house data center for weeks.
Lower technical requirements
Since the support of the servers is carried out centrally by the cloud computing provider, considerable technical costs are eliminated for the customer. Thus, compared to the operation of a data center, you do not have to employ an army of system administrators and other expensive specialists. Depending on your contract, a support team is also available to you as a client in case of problems. Your development team, BI experts, etc. will usually benefit from the highly qualified and always reachable contacts – and this in turn will benefit their work.
In contrast to the outsourceof data centers, as has been practiced for decades, cloud computing represents yet another leap in user-friendliness, as all maintenance and administration is taken over by the provider.
However, this only describes the human benefits of a cloud computing solution. To list the advantages over the self-solution in terms of internal construction, Internet connection, electricity, fire protection, etc. would be beyond the scope.
It is precisely this support provided by the cloud operator that offers an increased level of security. Of course, your company’s own security officer and the data protection expert also do an excellent job; However, with the experience and resources of an entire team, as the cloud computing provider has it in its ranks, they will hardly be able to keep up. Due to the enormous synergy effects among the various customers of the cloud specialist, each individual client can draw on the accumulated expertise in security. A circumstance that can be worthwhile in order to avoid data leaks and co. in a sustainable way.
… and some risks
However, this security advantage can also be detrimental: since cloud computing is a very international business, it cannot always be assumed that their personal security requirements are met. As a German company, the legal requirements and the possible complications in the event of failure are significantly higher than in an international comparison. However, your Irish cloud computing provider with large data centres in Belarus, Ukraine and Morocco may not be particularly interested in this.
Before selecting the provider, it is therefore imperative to thoroughly review the respective security and privacy policies and choose a cloud service that comes closest to you and your needs. The overall security level is also worth an in-depth review. However, it is quite difficult to find precise information here, as there is no “measure” for this to orientate oneself. Only statements of the providers as well as the verification of their reputation by in-depth research remain. If in doubt, you’re in the best position with the major providers Microsoft, Amazon, and Google when it comes to data security.
Storing sensitive data on your own servers, a hybrid solution, can also help you use cloud computing services while always acting in compliance with GDPR.
The great advantage of universal accessibility can also be a big problem for your cloud application: you don’t just need a stable, high-throughput Internet connection; You may also need to share this computing power and data transfer with other cloud users, which may mean that another user is using all capacities just when you want to start your major project. Depending on the contract, very different conditions may apply. You will probably not receive a guarantee of accessibility from any provider.
As you will have experienced yourself, you always experience such misfortunes at the worst possible time. Depending on your absolute resiliency requirements, a cloud solution may only be suitable for you and your business as a hybrid solution in conjunction with your own data center.
Cloud computing offers companies of all sizes interesting new ways to dramatically increase their computing power. If you weigh the use of cloud computing over setting up a data center, the cloud offering clearly wins – the cost difference is simply too huge. Compared to the continued operation of an existing centre, the result is already markedly different: the decision depends on a case-by-case basis, as aspects such as data and resilience and possibly planned scaling are taken into account. Hybrid solutions are also legitimate.
Before deciding on cloud computing, however, there should always be an in-depth review of potential vendors and their policies.