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Cloud Computing:

A general purpose utility suitable for all?


February 15th, 2015
By 140024385

! What is cloud computing? For the majority of population, it is likely that people will recognize
the term but lack the exact definition. However, it is not their fault that they don’t know the definition.
Twenty-five years ago or so , this wouldn’t have been a question since cloud computing didn’t exist
before the internet. Overall, cloud computing describes the on demand service to utilize users own
programs and application over the internet (Jamsa, 2011). With the cloud, individuals have the ability to
access their own music, movies and data via the web and a screen instead of needing their own laptop
with it’s own programs and data storage. In addition, businesses can run easily and successfully on the
cloud without needing a large number of servers on site to accomplish their data processing tasks (Jamsa,
2011). With the rise of computer science and the further advancement of computing power in the past
decade, cloud computing has been introduced to the public and has gained popularity among IT
professionals and businesses. Indeed, the cloud has gained such traction that experts have argued that it
will become a general purpose utility for the entire population. However, based on the literature so far,
cloud computing will need to thoroughly address the weaknesses it has in order to become a utility like
electricity for the public. Data-lock in, confidentiality and business continuity are only a few drawbacks
of the multiple issues that face or will face the cloud.
Aside for addressing the issues that are stopping the cloud from becoming a general utility for the
population, the following paper will discuss what the main features of cloud computing are as well as
describe the technologies that comprise cloud computing. Lastly, there will be a discussion on the views
expressed in the literature on the adoption of cloud computing by both businesses and individuals.

Main Features
Apple, Amazon, and Google are a few companies out of hundreds of companies who are
incorporating and utilizing cloud computing as a major part of what they offer to consumers. Cloud
computing is on it’s way to becoming a necessity for businesses to employ and offer to maintain the
company’s position in the marketplace among competitors. To examine why cloud computing is on the
raise in a wide range of industries, it is necessary to look at the features cloud computing has to offer to
consumers in general. It can be argued that the main reason why cloud computing is becoming more
popular among brand businesses and notable individuals is because of the unique features cloud
computing offers.
The first feature of cloud computing is the on-demand computing power it provides. Companies
are able to pay for computer power whenever they desire it as opposed to the old model of acquiring
storage space and power (Jamsa, 2011). The old model consisted of buying more physical servers and
wasting energy on server downtime subsequently creating higher costs for the company. Businesses now
can pay to use the cloud to accommodate their needs with being able to buy additional service time or
more storage at anytime which is efficient and cost-effective.
Another feature of cloud computing is the elasticity it offers to consumers to when there is a
sudden decline or surge in demand. Instead of rushing to buy more servers when demand escalates
quickly, businesses now have the opportunity to ask their cloud provider for more server power to
eliminate over and under provisioning (Jamsa, 2011). Without elasticity, companies wasted storage and
power during non-peak periods when they over provisioned demand projections by underutilizing their
own servers. On the reverse side, companies lost dissatisfied customers as a result from poor service and
downed computing power when they under provisioned customer demand. Elasticity fixes these problems
by enabling the company to rapidly accommodate demand fluctuation leading to more customer
satisfaction and lowering the costs for computing power.
Elasticity and the on-demand usability cloud are only a couple of differentiating features of cloud
computing. Others include measurability, pooled resourcing and networking between devices (Jamsa,
2011). Like any other innovative product, each characteristic of the cloud provides a service that is hard to
find anywhere else. Taken all together, these features will help grow the usage of cloud computing and
help spur the cloud adoption as a general utility to the public if it happens.

Cloud technology and views about the adoption of the cloud by businesses and individuals
Cloud computing could not be where it is now without the availability of high speed computing
technology. A debate on the potential future of the cloud would be taking place years from now if
software engineers hadn’t been advancing the knowledge of computer science. There are several
technologies that are important to cloud computing, the major two that comprise cloud computing
technologies are networking and virtualization. Each one plays a significant role in the providing of cloud
computer power and storage easily and effectively.
Since the introduction of the cloud, a main selling point of the cloud for users and businesses is
the ability to collaborate on projects at the same time from different places. By syncing data over multiple
devices via the internet, workers have the ability to work on the same document or presentation
simultaneously without stopping the progress of others (Jamsa, 2011). Progress in a document is also
automatically saved to prevent losing individual work. Team members can also use cloud based software
to conduct meetings over face to face video to present projects (Jamsa, 2011). There is little drawback to
this technology that underpins cloud computing.
Virtualization is another technology that improves cloud computing as a whole. Data centers
would be less effective in storing data if virtualization wasn’t around. Essentially, virtualization creates a
virtual copy of a physical operating system by using hardware and software (Jamsa, 2011). This allows
the user to run multiple operating systems simultaneously, making disc space available to more users and
the perception of a network connection. In addition, it decreases power consumption and improves the
backup of data if a disaster occurs. Virtualization does have its disadvantages such as the need to train
staff to become affluent with the virtualization process and for core-intensive applications that
virtualization would effect negatively (Jamsa, 2011). Despite these minor flaws, virtualization will
continue to deliver better and better computing power in the future.
With the help of it’s features and technology, the concept of cloud computing has become a major
topic in conversations which has lead to many opinions on where the cloud is going in the future. For
some, the cloud represents an exciting and opportunistic outlook for both individuals and companies to
become more interconnected and successful. For others, the cloud represents an overhyped platform that
may create more problems than solutions down the road if the cloud does become a general utility service.
From the literature and progress so far, cloud computing has more issues which need to be examined
before businesses and individuals can fully adopt it as a public utility.
The characteristics of the cloud have strong appeal to businesses and individual users. It can be
argued that many individuals are already adopting the cloud as a general utility with the number of cloud
services that are out there already like i-Cloud and Google Drive. In order to accomplish this appeal, the
cloud came up with a user friendly and focused model, software as a service. SaaS describes the model of
user independence between multiple devices and the collaboration between users it enables due to cloud
storage (Jamsa, 2011). With all this data being stored on a virtual server, this allows users to work on the
same document, dataset and program at the same time from multiple devices. SaaS also lets users access
their programs, music and data storage from anywhere and anytime (Jamsa, 2011). In his article, Weiss
suggests that software as a service will radically change personal computing by all the services the web
will be able to provide (Weiss, 2007). If every user has their personal data on the cloud, individuals would
only need a light device with a screen and a wifi connection to access their software.
In his article describing their view about the cloud and it’s future, Armbrust describes both the
benefits and drawbacks and thoroughly gives solutions to the obstacles the cloud faces (Armbrust, Fox,
Griffith, Joseph, Katz, Konwinski,... & Zaharia, 2010). With the addition of the cloud, businesses are able
to deliver their internet servers over a virtual network with little hassle and costs. Offering their service
over the cloud eliminates the costs of acquiring on-site computers and the associated costs that come with
it such as the administrative costs for maintenance and supervision of the servers (Armbrust et all., 2010).
The cloud also gives businesses a tremendous amount of flexibility by paying for storage as they need it
to accommodate demand levels in cost effective ways. Lastly, businesses can focus more on the core
aspects of their service such as innovating new ideas and finding ways to run their operations effectively
instead of getting caught up in sever problems (Armbrust et all., 2010). On the contrary, the cloud is
prevented from gaining widespread development from multiple issues: data transfer bottlenecks,
performance unpredictability and data-lock in among others.
Out all of the issues Armbrust examines, the major ones that prevent adoption are data-lock in,
business continuity and cloud security. If a business uploads all their data to a certain cloud data center
and decide to switch to another provider, data-lock prevents easy data transfer from provider to provider
and user data in the cloud could be damaged. When a business imports data into a cloud provider, it
increases the difficulty of extracting the data and programs to use on another provider if they are
dissatisfied with the level of service. A consequence of the data transfer could be altered data or program
with the lack of compatibility to the new cloud provider. To solve this problem, Armbrust suggests SaaS
developers should “standardized application programming interfaces” so user data could be transferable
to any cloud provider system (Armbrust et all., 2010). However, this might lead to cheap cloud pricing
and less of a profit for cloud providers. Data security is another liability for the cloud considering the high
level computer hackers that are out there. Leaving private and valuable data in the cloud puts the user at a
huge risk for theft and businesses will be jeopardized if there is a data breach within the data center.
Armbrust states that firewalls and data encryption are strong enough to prevent these breaches from
occurring (Armbrust et all., 2010). Bryon agrees with Armbrust that security is a major weakness.
However, he further suggests that the data stored in cloud such as trade secrets and customer data will
need to be subjected to audibility and that will pose a problem to cloud providers (Brynjolfsson, Hofmann
& Jordan, 2010). The third major obstacle that drive away businesses from cloud computing is business
continuity if data centers suffer an outage. In addition, a worse scenario for companies is when storage
providers go out of business, which leaves companies to rush to retrieve their data or risk loosing it all
(Jamsa, 2011). For cloud providers to prevent this, cloud providers must team up with one another so
consumers can have a backup if something happens to one cloud provider (Armbrust et all., 2010).

Conclusion
Overall, the views expressed in the literature describe the great potential that cloud computing has
as a general service utility and bright future that technology has. However, it still has a long way to go
before it becomes utility suitable for all. Nonetheless, cloud computing will be here for a long time and
there is no doubt that many businesses and individuals will continually benefit from the cloud in the
future.
References
Armbrust, M., Fox, A., Griffith, R., Joseph, A. D., Katz, R., Konwinski, A., ... & Zaharia, M. (2010). A
view of cloud computing. Communications of the ACM,53(4), 50-58.

Brynjolfsson, E., Hofmann, P., & Jordan, J. (2010). Cloud computing and electricity: beyond the utility
model. Communications of the ACM, 53(5), 32-34.

Jamsa, K. (2011). Cloud computing. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Weiss, A. (2007). Computing in the clouds. networker, 11(4).