London Bikes Ltd. is a small and medium sized enterprise, also known as an SME, which is located in the heart of London. The company is into selling of high end bicycles that are specifically meant for city riding and also takes custom orders from customer. The company hosts a website internally and has a full-fledged database management system, which the company uses for customer accounts, orders and billing. The IT capabilities of the company are also used to manage the pay role of their workforce. The company has recently gained knowledge about cloud computing and it is planning to implement cloud storage in their business so that they could increase the level of customer services and satisfaction. The first priority of the company is to create a backup of all its confidential information on a cloud server so that it could be saved from any man-made or natural disaster. Therefore, this report is aimed at providing an introduction of cloud computing to the company and discussing its benefits, along with some success stories and deployment recommendations.
In the past few years, we have seen some of the best innovations that the technology could have ever made possible. From virtual reality to robots and artificial intelligence, technology has shocked us in a great way and has also made out life simpler. One such innovation of technology has been cloud computing that has actually helped millions of small, medium and large business organisations in increasing the efficiency of their business operations.
Cloud computing, in simple words, is an internet service that hosts and delivers online storage services . It provides shared computer processing resources and data to information technology devices on demand. The concept of cloud computing has evolved in the past few years as companies have been able to save a lot of their operational costs by eliminating the need to maintain huge and costly data banks and shifting all their information and data on to cloud storage servers. Cloud computing was coined to denote computer infrastructure as a cloud from where business owners and individuals could extract data on demand from anywhere in the world .
Characteristics Of Cloud Computing
Let us now discuss some characteristic features of cloud computing:
- Per-Usage Metering and Billing
- Multiple Backend Hypervisors
- Storage virtualization
- Interface to public clouds
- Virtual clusters
- Reservation and negotiation mechanism 
Benefits Of Cloud Computing
Let us now discuss some advantages of cloud computing, which can be enjoyed by the organisation once it implements cloud computing in the company:
Cost Savings ? one of the main benefits of cloud computing is that it helps companies in saving a lot IT costs. Businesses, no matter small, medium or large, work in order to earn money, which can be done only when the operational costs and expenses can be reduced. With cloud computing sever in place, business organisations can save a lot of their expenses by eliminating the costs related to in-house server storage and application requirements .
Reliability ? Cloud computing is managed by service provides and hence, it is much more reliable and consistent that a company’s in-house infrastructure. Cloud computing service providers provide uninterrupted services and also prevent business organisations from the loss of important information or data as the data stored on the cloud servers can be easily retrieved at any point of time. Cloud service providers provide 24/7/365 availability and in case of failure, the applications being hosted on the server can be quickly transferred to any available server .
Improved collaboration ? one of the most amazing benefits of cloud computing is that it provides improved collaboration amongst all the operational units of an organisation . By implementing a cloud computing server in the organisation, London Bikes Ltd. will be able to create, view, edit and share information and data amongst all the operational units of the company without any hassle. With improved collaboration, the company will be able to provide better products and services to the customers .
Scalability/Flexibility ? another major benefit of cloud computing is its scalability or flexibility. London Bikes Ltd. would be able to easily scale up or scale down its operations and storage needs according to the demand of the situation. Rather than investing into the acquisition of new infrastructure, software or hardware . Some cloud service providers have made their services highly flexible so that it can be tailored according to the needs of the customers.
Service Models And Available Real-World Services
Cloud computing is becoming increasingly famous in the modern day world as it is convenient, cost-effective, all time available and provides on demand network access to information and data whenever required. Cloud computing comes with three service models:
Software as a Service (SaaS) ? In this service model, the customers are allowed to use the application of the provider that is running on a cloud infrastructure. The applications are made accessible to the customer through a thin client interface or through a program interface .
Platform as a Service (PaaS) ? in this service model, the customers are provided with the capability to deploy a cloud infrastructure, which is acquired by the customer, but is developed using applications, languages, services, etc. that are supported by the provider .
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) ? in this service model, the customers are given the opportunity to gain access to processing, storage, networks and other fundamental computing resources. The customer is also allowed to run the arbitrary software that can consist of operating system and applications. The only thing that the consumer is not allowed to control is the cloud infrastructure .
Cloud computing is being considered as the next big thing and beyond doubt, sooner or later, it will eliminate the need of using large storage devices and heavy investments to extend storage spaces. As a result, there are a number of companies that have started providing cloud computing services to business organisations and individuals. Some of these service providers are:
Amazon web services ? Amazon is one of the best cloud computing service in the market that provides a combination of IaaS and PaaS cloud services . Amazon Web Services has a huge list of almost 70 services that span across a wide range including compute, storage, networking, application services, etc.
Google Cloud Service ? Google too has been providing cloud services since quite a long time now. Google’s Drive cloud storage has been providing storage solutions to millions of customers. Google also offers cloud computing services that are related to IaaS model. Google’s platform includes a wide variety of hosted servers that allow computing, storage and application development that are run on the hardware of the company itself .
Cloud Computing And Virtualization
Virtualization refers to the creation of a virtual version of something, such as a virtual version of a storage device, operating system, etc. Virtualization can be of many types, such as network virtualization, storage virtualization, server virtualization, etc. Virtualization can help in increasing the processing power of the information system by centralizing the administrative tasks and improving scalability of workloads.
Network virtualization, storage visualization and server virtualization can be together used to make the concept of cloud computing better and more secure than ever before. . The concept of storage virtualization helps service providers in extending the storage capacities of the cloud by allocating more memory. Further, the concept of software virtualization allows business organisations to use the same software on a large number of information systems by creating a virtual layer.
Virtualization in cloud technology aims at managing the workload by making the traditional form of computing more scalable, efficient and economical. When cloud computing is related to virtual technology, it makes it possible for the organisation to run multiple operating systems and multiple applications on the same server at the same time. Thus, the concept of cloud computing still has to reach its pinnacle and would change the entire IT infrastructure once it does .
The company, as stated in the case study, is a small and medium sized company that operates in London. Therefore, it is obvious that the company would not be eager enough to invest its important resources in acquiring costly cloud computing services.
Cloud computing comes in different service models, such as IaaS, SaaS or PaaS, etc. and each of the models can have different cost structure for the investor. The service models and the cost structure would depend upon the company’s requirements for access and its ability to handle the operations of cloud computing itself. The company should, first of all, prepare a list of cloud computing service providers and shortlist the ones which have simpler service models, provide cheaper services and offer very less maintenance on the customer’s part. Cloud computing service providers, such as amazon web services, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc. can be included in the list as they are some of the most cost effective cloud services.
Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud are two of the few best cloud computing service providers in the market and the rivalry between the two is a common topic in the market. Where Google has a huge platform and numbers attached to it, Amazon too is a tough competitor with more services to offer. AWS also offers a wider variety of services and has higher quality. Therefore, AWS is a clear winner when it comes to quantity and quality. On the other hand, Google is no less. Google has an advantage of Big Data with it and in a number of cases Google Cloud scores higher than AWS. Therefore, it is clear that both the platforms have some competitive advantages over the other and it would totally rely upon the preference of the company whether it would go with AWS or Google Cloud. Overall, London Bikes Ltd. should clearly weigh the advantages of the two, relate them with their business operations and acquire the one which would best serve their purpose.
Migrating to new software altogether is not an easy task for any company. It requires a lot of confidence and professional guidance to accurately set up the whole system on a new software, hardware or technology. Similarly, it would not be easy for London Bikes Ltd. to migrate to cloud computing altogether and leave all its traditional forms of computing. The company will have to work patiently and at a steady pace, it should slowly shift all its computing or information technology related work to cloud computing.
Initially, the company will have to implement cloud computing in the workplace at a very small scale. By acquiring a simpler and a less complicated service application, the company would be able to pilot test the benefits of the cloud computing software and would be able to predict the future prospects of the same. The company should go for either SaaS or IaaS service models as they are less complicated and do not require the customer to take care of a lot of things or maintain them from time to time. Once the company is able to decide and implement a cloud computing platform, it should start to shift its customer information on to it. The company should ensure that it has a safe backup of all its files that are being transferred on to the cloud server as some things might go wrong in the first attempt. Once the company has all its customer information saved on the cloud, it can allow all the operational units of the organisation to use the cloud server and gain access to the information stored on it for serving the customers when they come. If the company finds the cloud server to be useful and secure enough, it can then start to transfer its classified or confidential information on the cloud.
Another major concern in cloud computing is related to security. As it is evident that the company will shift to cloud computing and would allow access of data to different users from multiple devices, security issues will definitely occur. If the management or the IT staff is unable to track the cloud server properly, it can be easily breached by outside entities and a lot of harm can be caused to the information or data stored on the cloud server. London Bikes Ltd. should also ensure that there are different levels of authentication in the organisation as all the information cannot be made available to all the people. Therefore, using unique ID & passwords, the management can restrict the level of access that the employees will have to the cloud server. Once the company starts using the cloud server properly, it can contact the service provider for extra storage space whenever required, any security modifications, special customizations, etc.
London Bikes Ltd. has an exceptional business model and its unique idea will definitely bring a lot of business opportunities in the future if the company continues to perform well. To perform well in the market and to gain market competencies, it is must that the company should implement cloud computing as soon as possible as it would make it easier for the management to manage all the work operations and serve the customers in the best possible manner. Therefore, the company should take its time, conduct a detailed analysis on the cloud service providers, chose the one which suits their business purpose and should quickly migrate to cloud computing.
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