cloud computing

Examples of cloud computing

by Mike Sweetman
21 May 2019

Introduction

Quite a lot can be said and is being said about the cloud nowadays and that is due to the fact that it has become a fundamental ingredient across the entire Information Technology industry, as well as any other business field that it reaches. And trust us, it is reaching nearly every field there is in the business world. 

But before we go into the details of cloud computing applications, cloud computing examples and the industries it is taking by storm, let’s briefly talk about where does it all come from.

Cloud computing is a term that was popularized by Amazon along with its release of the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) back in 2006. While the first reference of the concept dates back to 1996 with its first known mention in a Compaq internal document, IBM states that cloud computing dates back to the 1950s when large-scale mainframes were made available to schools and corporations. The cloud symbol that is now so famously used to refer to the cloud and cloud computing can be traced back to as early as 1977. Mostly, the word cloud was adopted to work as a metaphor for a network. A very robust network, to be exact.

Since its early inception and adoption, cloud computing was designed and geared as a means to reduce costs and help users focus on what really matters business-wise, by reducing IT obstacles and adopting several technologies to offer an expanding array of technological infrastructure resources over the Internet.

But before we dip our toes in the water of everything that cloud computing entails and multiple examples of cloud computing, let’s first clarify what exactly is cloud computing.

What is cloud computing?

According to the trusted site Gartner, cloud computing is “a style of computing in which scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities are delivered as a service using Internet technologies.” Within this definition of the cloud computing infrastructure and software model, there are numerous cloud-based applications and examples that are being developed and leveraged throughout a wide variety of industries, giving cloud computing its status as revolutionary.

To put it in simpler, more straightforward words, cloud computing refers to the approach of on-demand delivery of computing power, be it infrastructure, services, platforms, applications, and other IT resources, through an Internet-rendered cloud platform. Among the main advantages of leveraging cloud computing is the ability it provides to access as many IT resources as you require, nearly instantly, and with a pay-only-for-what-you-use model.

With cloud computing power, the value is delivered in the shape of raw processing power, storage, or cloud-based applications to name a few, through near-immediate on-demand access to diverse IT resources. With that being said, it is true that clouds can come in different shapes and sizes and as far as deployment models go, these are the essential kinds available:

  • Enterprise or private cloud: Limited to a single organization.
  • Public cloud: Available to many organizations.
  • Hybrid cloud: Combination of private and public clouds.

While there are other deployment models on the horizon, such as community cloud, distributed cloud, Big Data cloud, and more, the above three we listed remain as the most widely-adopted models in the cloud computing ecosystem. If you want to learn more about these models, please review this article.

Before going into the intricacies of cloud computing examples, let’s demystify how does the cloud work?

How does the cloud work?

The cloud is very much a metaphor for the Internet. And in many senses, they resemble each other as a virtual space where users connect, share and access information, and can run software and services remotely.

In the realm of cloud computing, the cloud architecture can be broken down into two sections: front-end and back-end. Both elements are intricately connected to one another over a network that allows them to seamlessly operate together to deliver IT resources. Front-end is thought of as the client side, in this case, a client-facing dashboard that provides all the necessary features to access IT resources, and the back-end or server side, which is the behind-the-scenes side that operates and executes all client-made requests. 

Now, down to the specifics: the cloud functions under the premise of remote servers that handle computing and storage, where information lives online. While many cloud computing services work differently, the majority operate under a browser-based dashboard that provides the necessary resources to work with cloud services. Principally, the cloud computing dashboard provides simple and easy access to servers, storage, databases, and a broad set of application services over the internet.

Cloud computing examples per industries

Common folk may fail to notice how cloud computing impacts their everyday lives. But second-nature activities such as checking your email anywhere in the world through a cloud-based webmail client, saving documents on the go to access at any time and from any place, streaming your favorite TV show on a subscription-based platform without having to download content, backing up and storing photos online, and much more, are all made possible through the power of cloud computing.

From Google Drive, Apple iCloud, Netflix, Dropbox, and many more, cloud computing examples of cloud applications in different industries are emerging at a fiery rate. Here, we explore some of the most relevant ones.

Marketing

Marketing is an activity aimed at achieving the goals of enterprises, institutions, or organizations for the maximum satisfaction of consumers. At present this industry is very connected with the processing of large amounts of information for analyzing the state of the markets and forming the correct properties of goods and services. In the field of marketing, a lot of work is now dependent on determining the choice of inbound or outbound strategy, market segmentation, customer communications, product promotion for the target audience, and the demand for a future product or service.

The main problems in marketing relate to the development of clear strategies in the field of developing solutions for processing big data, problems of presenting results, and proper risk assessment. 

A separate problem is the question of the organization of digital marketing.

Thus, marketing in many business sectors now requires:

  • the potential to collect and process large amounts of information
  • integration with a large number of posts in social networks
  • analysis of  text information by Nature Language Processing
  • building market models using AI algorithms and neural networks
  • fast and high-quality delivery of content in digital marketing

Essentially, digital marketers benefit from using cloud computing capabilities to access a safe, secure, and instant environment to harness real-time information and feedback about clients and prospects.

Whether you realize it or not, a load of digital products you access such as electronic books, games, movies, apps, and more, are delivered to you through digital marketing efforts. With the rise of cloud computing, marketers can manage large customer databases to access client information with speed, precision, and awareness.

A lot of cloud solutions exist to solve problems in marketing at the moment

  • cloud services for the organization of e-Commerce for the sale of goods and digital content (Salesforce)
  • cloud services for organizing databases (mainly noSQL) for saving and processing arrays of marketing information (mLab, Redislab)
  • cloud services for visualization and analysis of information (Tableau, PowerBI)
  • IaaS and Paas for cloud services for deploying corporate and industry level IT marketing solutions (Azure, AWS, Heroku)
  • Integrated cloud solutions for Artificial Intelligence, Neural Networks, big data analysis, Natural Language Processing, visual information analysis

Another aspect of cloud computing that works wonderfully with marketing efforts relates back to scalability. Through cloud computing, marketing campaigns and any outreach technique, such as email-based marketing, online advertising, web analytics, PR marketing, and more, are made significantly easier to manage and deploy.

An example of cloud computing in marketing is Quantcast, which specializes in real-time advertising and audience insights. As quantities of data pour in every day, Quantcast processes nearly 40 petabytes of data. In previous years, the company hosted its real-time solutions across several data centers, but as the physical hardware started to wear, Quantcast realized it was time to move its infrastructure elsewhere. As they implemented AWS into their business systems, Quantcast reduced operational costs (almost 60% for its QCLearn machine learning system and 25% on Amazon EC2 instances), and it is now capable of scaling securely and more easily than it ever could if it continued to use its previous data center model. The real-time bidding service along with their ad service has increased in uptime, giving customers bidding capabilities around the clock.

Education

The education industry in the next few decades will undergo fundamental changes caused by the new needs of society. Education in the next few decades is likely to move from the usual structured system to individual educational programs, and a creative approach to finding new knowledge.

To provide individual educational programs, additional technical tools will be required for organizing online training and replicating lectures and classes for a multi-million audience that is interested in obtaining fundamental and applied knowledge. To provide such a wide audience with educational materials and video lectures, significant technical resources are required from the servers,  as well as client hardware and software for students. 

Thus, education in online and offline forms now requires:

  • store and process a lot of digital representation of modern knowledge, build an ontology and analyze huge datasets of domain area-specific information
  • provide large numbers of video-on-demand lectures and workshops, structure information and precisely categorize it
  • organize tests for attendees and analysis of results

Educational institutions and outlets benefit from cloud computing by accessing services that would be otherwise highly expensive or harder to obtain. With cloud computing, schools and other academic organizations utilize solutions such as

  • video hosting cloud solutions to store and display the content of lectures, tutorials, and workshops
  • cloud-based educational systems, such as eLearning and Learning Management Systems
  • cloud-based domain area environments and access to experimental data to share and collaborate for research

One great example is the University of Oxford which developed the Malaria Atlas Project, an ambitious collaboration among malaria scientists who seek to make a detailed global map of malaria to fight the reach of the disease. In the goal of mapping malaria, resources, funds, and efforts run high. The project requires models that use top-end spatial statistics, which don’t come without a hefty price to them, which is where computation and storage provided via cloud computing comes in. By partnering with Amazon Web Services (AWS), the University of Oxford has access to serious parallel processing to implement the necessary models with feasible timescales and storage to deal with the massive outputs.

Healthcare

In previous articles, we’ve covered and discussed how the healthcare industry benefits from Big Data analysis, and in this instance, we can see how it all ties together with cloud computing.

Thus, the healthcare industry now requires the following:

  • access to large volume and velocity of information from patients and research
  • process huge datasets such as human genome and viruses/bacteria structure
  • new effective computational algorithms to generate specific formulas of medicine for individual patients 
  • provide practical methods in the area of artificial intelligence, machine learning for medical records processing and predicting necessary early diagnosis and treatment for specific categories of patients
  • collect and process a huge amount of information from IoT medical sensors and aggregate them to the overall healthcare ecosystem 

Healthcare is an industry that produces data in massive volumes, and cloud computing provides the necessary tools and resources to the power that scale of data into actionable insights and applications that help universal health and wellbeing, by simplifying processes, making them more efficient, and cost-effective.

To solve problems in healthcare industries cloud systems now provide:

  • effective computation power and data storage on a huge number of instances, such as Hadoop, Apache Spark, etc.
  • machine learning and AI frameworks in the cloud, including GPU instances (AWS, Google Cloud ML Engine, Amazon ML/AI)
  • cost-effective cloud environment for clinical applications and healthcare management applications, electronic health records

An example of cloud computing in healthcare is GE Healthcare, which is known for its medical imaging equipment and diagnostic imaging agents. As the influx of healthcare data grows, millions of medical devices become flooded with information that can transform into valuable patient dataThrough the GE Health Cloud, users can access an array of imaging applications via a single portal enterprise platform to view, process, and share images and patient cases. GE Health Cloud, assisted by the infrastructure of AWS, runs on Amazon EC2 to run and operate over one petabyte of medical imaging data, which is stored in Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), making it the heart of the solution.

Government

From all angles, government dependencies and institutions are massively architected and produce large quantities of data as well. Specifically in the United States, the government and military count themselves amongst some of the early adopters of cloud computing.

The main requirement for a government cloud solution is the highest security requirement and a strict level of privacy. Gartner “foresees growth in government use of public cloud, with spending forecast to grow on average 17.1% per year through 2021”.

Under former President Barack Obama’s term, the world was introduced to the U.S. Federal Cloud Computing Strategy which was designed to accelerate cloud adoption in all government departments.

To solve problems on government cloud systems:

An example of how cloud computing works to the benefit of the government is the city of Kansas City, Missouri, which is proud to be considered as one of the smartest cities in the United States, all thanks to cloud computing. As they put the information to work from tens of thousands of devices that generate data all the time, the city implemented a solution to harness urban analytics and an intelligence platform to help policymakers improve how the city operates.  Kansas City turned to Xaqt, which is a platform that delivers services through AWS to power agility and scalability. The Xaqt solution ingests data, processes millions of real-time events, and performs analytic functions automatically to deliver insights and smarten the city further.

Cloud computing applications

In the most practical sense, any application can be put in the cloud - but there are some applications that make more sense than others to be cloud-based. The most common cloud computing applications include IT management, collaboration, personal and business applications, app development, backup and recovery, server and storage capacity, and more.

In the application of scalable usage, Netflix, the on-demand streaming service that is the king of choice for consumers,  leverages cloud computing as their servers face large surges in load periods at peak time. Moving from in-house data centers to the cloud-enabled Netflix to expand its customer base without investing heavily on costly infrastructure.

A collaboration and communication application of cloud computing is chatbots. Chatbots are cloud-based natural language intelligent bots that provide customized content and customer experiences to end users. Other examples are messaging applications such as WhatsApp which base their infrastructure on the cloud where data is stored rather than on personal devices.

For productivity, a great example is Google Docs. Not only does Google Docs enable users to access tools over the internet in real-time, but you can also work from any place in the world, as data is stored safely in the cloud.

Now that we know a little bit more about cloud computing applications, let’s review the pros and cons of cloud computing.

Pros and cons of cloud computing

Cloud computing is a pool of potential. While a lot of its potential is being realized, there’s still a lot untapped that can be siphoned into an array of beneficial cloud applications, like the ones mentioned in the previous section of this article.

Here, we detail some of the most important pros and cons of cloud computing.

Pros: 

  • Reduction of IT infrastructure costs
  • Cost-efficiency
  • Flexibility and elasticity
  • Low variable cost from massive economies of scale
  • Reduction in time-to-market of applications
  • A boost in performance and productivity
  • Ease of system integration
  • An abundance of services available in the cloud
  • Reduction in data center resource requirements
  • Reduction of maintenance issues of data centers
  • Immediate software updates
  • Ease of dynamic scalability
  • Increase in storage capacity
  • Speed and agility

Cons:

  • Performance inconsistency across shared cloud infrastructures
  • Security regulations and compliance
  • Concerns about data privacy and confidentiality
  • Network connection dependency (mainly challenging for small businesses)
  • Vulnerability to cyber attacks
  • Limited control, flexibility, and customization

Conclusion

Now, you have a general idea of how cloud computing works along with examples of cloud computing to mull over.

The future is certainly bright for cloud computing and we are excited for the promise it holds for the business world as many industry experts predict that we are to see an explosion of intense adoption of multi-cloud environments by enterprises.

The cloud is home to impressive new technologies that incite innovation. As the journey continues, cloud computing is shifting the way we think about doing business as it moves beyond its original purpose and into an evolved concept that encompasses future needs.

Luneba is a leading software development company that has a multitude of cloud experts in its portfolio of talented developers and IT professionals, helping clients leverage cloud computing services for businesses of all shapes and sizes. To learn more about how we can help you with your cloud computing endeavors, do not hesitate to contact us - we are always happy to help and provide information.

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