The present era is that of globalisation and large scale data. With that comes the concept of cloud computing which helps to integrate the various business processes which are spread across borders thus providing a competitive advantage to the organizations. Cloud computing in general connotes a whole new class of network based computing which is done with the help of internet. It has characteristics of wide distribution of information across the globe, easy accessibility irrespective of the location of the user, real time communication and ease in recovery in case of server crashes (Dhar, 2012). The term is a decade old and its novelty and the increased preference among companies have made it an important topic of research. The article is organized is a manner wherein the background and history about cloud computing is discussed, followed by the methodology for research and then the results of the said research is highlighted (Srivastava, 2014). The significance of cloud computing is finally discussed and a conclusive summary is depicted herewith.
This section highlights about what cloud computing is and how it is different from the other related concepts such as grid computing.
Cloud computing is a newly emerged topic in the year 2006 and has become an important part of a corporate. The definition given by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has recently received wide spread recognition. It defines the term as a model which is used for convenience, on demand accessibility of network to a large number of computers at the same time rapidly without much of effort from the management. Here the class of network based computing runs on a particular server instead of a local computer or a laptop (NIST, 2016). Thus it enables centralisation of the resources of any organization irrespective of the size of the data.
Basis the relationship that exists between a provider and the consumer of cloud services, the cloud computing can be classified as the following:
- Public Cloud: As the name suggests it is owned and operated by general vendors and accessed by the public at large.
- Private Cloud: It is private to the organization and maintained within the house, limiting its accessibility to the users within the organization only (Goyal, 2014).
- Community Cloud: The cloud is shared by various organizations who belong to the same community who have common links and interests. The same may be managed by the organizations as well.
- Hybrid Cloud: As is understood it is the combination of two or more types of cloud (Jamuna, 2013).
However, of the above mentioned types of cloud, cloud computing in general refers to public cloud while others are such variations. The following section highlights the three cloud computing services i.e. Infrastructure as a Service, Software as a Service and Platform as a Service.
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): It provides infrastructure related services in a virtual manner such as storage and hardware resources with the help of the internet. Cloud infrastructure calls for renting of virtual machines in contrast to the traditional method of renting the physical machines. Example of IaaS are Amazon EC2 and S3 wherein the computing and the storage infrastructure are open to accessibility to all in exchange of a fee (Barber et.al. 2013).
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): It is a step ahead of IaaS which provides encoding and implementation atmosphere to the users. A PaaS user can create its own applications with help of various programming languages and the APIs supported by the providers post which it can directly position the application on the provider’s cloud infrastructure in a few clicks. It helps to reduce the pressure on the administration. Google’s App Engine is an example of PaaS which gives the users an option to build applications on a similar scalable system that powers the Google applications (Kepes, 2011).
- Software as a Service (SaaS): It is the most widely used computing service of cloud which provides a complete turnkey of applications to the users serving to cater to the most complex systems as well such as ERP software. Software services are deployed on the cloud and once the users subscribe for the same, they can use the services with the help of browsers (Rao et.al. 2013). This helps to- eradicate the process of installing, running and maintenance of the application on a personal computer. SaaS offers a multi-tenant architecture wherein all the users share same single code base which is maintained by the SaaS provider. However the user data is separated with the help of authentication security policies (Mahesh Kumar, 2014). The said method helps to keep the cost and under control, the load of maintaining the software of the user gets lessened and also is economical since the cost depends upon on-demand pricing. The Salesforce.com’s online CRM system is a live example of SaaS
However it can be rightly said that these three cloud computing services are related to each other and the former leads to building up of the latter. Cloud computing offers various technological and sociological benefits. The core concept here is centralisation of data services wherein millions of servers are located offering economies of scale. From the point of view of an entity, cloud computing offers a host of benefits such as less cost of computers, less maintenance cost of software. It also ensured improved performance with ease in scalability and instantaneous update of software without much hassle. From the point of view of the environment, it has ensured reduced in the carbon footprint due to virtualisation of the said system which has reduced the cost of air conditioners (Kavitha, 2014).
There are four methods of conducting a literature review, Narrative review, Descriptive review, vote counting and meta analysis, of which the descriptive review was found to be the most apt one for cloud computing. Since cloud computing is a recently developed topic, hence not much research has been conducted till date. Due to the same, for conducting a literature review on cloud computing, online databases were used instead of library collections.
Four main online database was used i.e. General OneFile, IEEE Xplore, ProQuest and ScienceDirect. Of the same 735 articles which were found online, 205 were shortlisted and were gradually grouped into four main categories i.e. technological issue, business issue, domains and applications and conceptualising cloud computing.
- Technological Issue: As is understood the said category focuses upon the technology related issues of cloud computing. Researchers have developed various articles and journals who perceive cloud computing as a white box and are curious about the components and its mechanisms. The technological issues are categorized into six sub-categories i.e the performance of the cloud, management of the data, data centre management, software development, service management and security and various articles are researched upon to address these issues (Thomas, 2009).
- Business Issues: This category emphasis upon the impact of cloud computing on businesses. Here the articles taken, look at cloud computing as a black box technology which has the ability to generate benefits for the business. The said issue is categorized into seven sub-categories i.e. the cost benefit from the view point of a user of cloud, the pricing strategies adopted by the cloud providers, the legality of the cloud computing, application of ethics, how much trust does these business houses have over the providers of cloud, whether privacy of data is being well maintained and lastly how well the said mode of safeguarding the data is adopted by the various business houses (Vouk, 2008).
- Conceptualising cloud computing: This category talks about cloud computing in general instead of diverting the attention towards any one single aspect. They are further classified only into two sub-categories. Firstly, it regards the articles which talk about the foundational concepts and components of cloud computing. They concentrate upon making the reader well aware about what cloud computing is and what are the key components of the same. Whereas the second category talks about the future of cloud computing and what its impact is on the business world.
- Domains and Applications: This is one of the most crucial category which talks about the impact cloud computing has on certain domains and applications. This also has six sub-categories i.e. in the e science community who have been long wanting for a power which offers limitless computing power, how cloud computing can be used by the government, its impact on the various educational institutions, integration of cloud computing with mobile technology such as that of Apple, merging of cloud computing and open source so that internet can become network of networks and lastly all such other domains and applications which may not be sued everyday but is important for cloud computing (Yang, & Tate, 2012).
As discussed earlier, cloud computing takes into account the descriptive approach, thus an overview is provided of the recent developments in cloud computing and the results of the same is presented in the following section.
Results and Analysis
Of the 205 articles shortlisted, it is understood that prior to 2007, the concept of cloud computing was not much prevalent. However the articles were bifurcated as per the various categories mentioned above.
The most widely published research article is that on technological issues in cloud computing followed by the conceptualising cloud computing and domains and applications and lastly business issues. The main lot of articles relate to the technical issues as they are the most crucial determinant for the success of the cloud computing. The concept of cloud computing is very new thus technological issues such as integrity of data, security of the data and performance predictability (Sun et,al, 2014). However, the journals which talk about the business issues clearly show the lack of business perceptions simply because its value is still not fully understood by the business houses. With regards the technological issues, performance improvement has been the main reason for people to switch over to cloud computing but at the same time concerns for data security deters them to adapt the same in totality. Similarly, data management is more popular as compared to the software development as most of the users are mainly concerned about storing data on cloud and very few are concerned about hosting a software application on cloud. Of all, service management is of least concern.
Next comes the business issues where the various sub-categories are discussed in a more evened out manner. It is not a necessity that cloud computing will suit all types of organizations; hence evaluation of suitability of cloud computing for a particular organization has attracted the interest of many. Unfortunately the two main areas of risk which the business houses perceive while shifting to cloud is that of privacy of data and the legal issues attached to it. However, the biggest reason for any business house to consider cloud computing IT system is the cost saving that it offers. Due to the same many entities have shifted their attention towards investing in cost saving IT investments. Last concern for any organization with regards switching over to cloud computing is trust and same has recently gained importance as the usage and the number of users have increased recently.
Conceptualising the cloud computing, caters to 48 articles out of 205 shortlisted. Out of the same, the major chunk is allocated to the introduction/foundational subcategory. Simple reason being that people look for articles which can give them a general overview of what cloud computing is since it is not discussed and prevalent in various universities and educational centres or even the IT companies.
Lastly the remaining number of article are allocated to the domains and applications category wherein half of the total number of articles talks about education specifically higher education. This makes it clear that the maximum of users have been the educational institutions and future may see more universities converting their database to cloud (Sultan, 2010). However the most disheartening was to see the number of articles on e science which clearly shows that computing power in e-science community is not much interested.
The main objective behind this literature review was to illustrate what is the significance of cloud computing and how the same has been adopted by various people and business houses across the globe. Dividing the research into four main categories have clearly stated out the various concerns as well as the benefits of switching over to cloud computing. Even though the literature review states that the technological review articles are more than the business issue related yet the same is not comprehensive. The requirement of cloud computing is basically for the complex business houses and hence more review with regards the benefits it can give to them should be highlighted. These articles on technology issues are very much stereotypes as they only focus on the technicalities of the cloud which can be understood by the technical experts only. Business professional look for articles which are written from a more practical view point rather than theoretical. Research articles should be encouraged to be written upon the cloud computing in relation to the business.
Next is the adoption which is one of the main theme among the business relate articles. The other sub categories are not given much weightage as to adoption of the said technology by the business houses. Shifting to cloud computing is a major shift in the kind of delivery method adopted for data, thus various important questions related to the same should be asked before the shift is made. Queries such as how does cloud computing impact the current practices of IT management and governance? Whether cloud computing contribute in improving the IT business alignment and IT agility as well? What are the main crucial factors to be considered for successful business model with cloud computing?
It is expected that the research in this segment of the IT will grow substantially in the coming years and as per the data it is understood that the same has seen a robust development post 2008. The global recession of 2008 has forced the companies to switch their IT infrastructure to a more cost friendly and resource efficiency. And both these are offered by cloud. Whether an organization should shift to cloud or not and when would depend highly upon their IS policies and organizational distribution of modernism. The organization will look into searching for various questions before implementing the cloud such as will cloud computing help to resolve the IS management issues, will it help to achieve agility or not.
Although the said article has various imitations such as the samples are basically related to only academic journals. Since cloud computing is industry specific, hence many quality articles which are professional based may also be of great help. The academic interest in exploring cloud computing is huge and wide. This is not an exhaustive review but it still has the capability to give an in depth knowledge about the current research on cloud computing. The study however have been bale to develop the significance of cloud computing by dividing into various categories and sub categories which makes the study more relevant and easily comprehendible also.
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