The Start of Something New
On January 9, 2007, Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone to a buzzing crowd of Apple enthusiasts. It was the mark of a paradigm shift, because it ushered in the age of apps. But a much large paradigm shift had occurred years before in 1996. At the headquarters of Compaq Computer, two executives, George Falvaro and Sean O’Sullivan, drafted a term called “cloud computing,” according to research conducted by MIT’s Technology Review. Years later, technology companies like Oracle and IBM fought over for sole ownership of “cloud computing.” Still, many speculate the name was coined in 2006 by Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt.
Though the origin of cloud computing’s coinage is as nebulous as its name suggests, the service is not exactly pie in the sky. What is the cloud? The cloud is a solid computer–several, hundreds, thousands of them hum in large data centers. These servers provide internet users access to cavernous storage space. Software services like Google Docs, DropBox, and Salesforce leverage their business by taking advantage of the cloud. Many of them are considered Software as a Service or SaaS.
However, with the rise of smartphones, thanks to Steve Jobs, mobile devices have dominated the consumer market. According to Satista, mobile phones accounted for 52% of internet traffic worldwide. In the Asian markets, 65% of internet users were mobile users. It seems pretty obvious that SaaS businesses have followed this trend by shipping their product to the mobile arena.
This act is one branch of yet another tech jargon called the “Internet of Things.” Alexa, Google Home, Siri, smartwatches and every other “thing” now have all entered the mobile realm. These products also get inundated with cloud services.
What does all of this mean for developers?
The drastic changes to the flow of data means cloud developers must group their cloud apps into the categories of public, private, and hybrid.
Microsoft Azure’s website defines public clouds as:
“…the most common way of deploying cloud computing. The cloud resources (like servers and storage) are owned and operated by a third-party cloud service provider and delivered over the Internet. Microsoft Azure is an example of a public cloud. With a public cloud, all hardware, software, and other supporting infrastructure is owned and managed by the cloud provider. In a public cloud, you share the same hardware, storage, and network devices with other organizations or cloud “tenants.” You access services and manage your account using a web browser. Public cloud deployments are frequently used to provide web-based email, online office applications, storage, and testing and development environments.”
These public clouds are commonly used to develop mobile apps due to the low costs, scalability, and reliability of these services. Apps need to be accessed seamlessly and public cloud systems allow for this.
Private clouds, on the other hand, are specifically catered to an individual company’s needs. Databases, security, and other back end services are best protected under the company’s purview. Private clouds also allow a company to provide in depth analytics based on data that they can gather from their service.
Hybrid clouds are supposed to be the best of both worlds. James Sanders and Conner Forest wrote an excellent article that detailed the pros and cons of this system. Essentially, the mix of public and private offers the client more flexibility when it comes to their data while at the same time offering the business providing that data more control to service their client’s various needs. IoT is perfectly suited for hybrid clouds. For example, a voice recognition device that culls data from the web may not need a public cloud service and can be relegated to the company’s private cloud. Though, if there ever is a need for more resources, the enterprise can pivot to the public cloud.
There has been a profound transformation in the way we now view data. Since the introduction of the iPhone, services have had to run to try to keep up with the app revolution, providing services that would allow users to continue to transfer data despite the storage limitations on their phones. It is with the cloud that this article can be written and many more like them without the worry of bloating hard drives with reams of files. We’ve gotten so used to open storage that storage is no longer a chief concern.
Developers can now focus on providing apps to countries in Asia and Africa where smartphones dominate internet usage. Janel Garvin, CEO of Evans Data put it best when he said,
“Today we see developers and Ops professionals alike are more attuned to the actual benefits that Cloud provides such as scalability and the enhanced flexibility of reach. This is especially true for workloads in public and hybrid Clouds where we see far ranging implementations in mobile and IoT dominating the landscape.”