Cloud Computing and Its Impact on the IT Industry

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The business climate in the information technology (IT) industry is one that inspires a competitive and innovative culture tailored to make continual improvements to the technological landscape. The 21st century alone reflects the results of this culture, with a variety of new products and services originating from this vibrant ecosystem of companies operating in a computerized business environment. Distributed computing is one of the factors influencing the direction of the modern IT industry, which Avram (2014) notes developed to assist in the actualization of business goals. Under the moniker of cloud computing, the various systems and frameworks that exist to avail storage and software services remotely as normative internet services changed the IT industry and disrupted traditional models focused on discrete computing infrastructure. With the vast potential of distributed computing in enhancing the flexibility of IT operations, it is thereby necessary to understand the past and present states of this particular subsector to understand its impact and possible future influence on IT practice in the future.

Cloud computing is a subset of IT that involves the delivery of hosted services to distributed clients across the internet, with the term describing both applications and platforms that avail these services (Avram, 2014). Overall, the application aspect of cloud computing involves the use of internet communications and internet browsers to access the applications hosted in the cloud rather than having them in a location only accessible to localized users. On the other hand, the platform aspects involve availing both physical and virtualized computing platforms on which the configuration and provisioning of individual components depend on user needs (Puthal, et al., 2015). A granular description of these two facets of the field reveals that they serve as components in the provision of software-as-a-service (SAAS), platform-as-a-service (PAAS), and infrastructure-as-a-service (IAAS) variants of cloud computing (Hussein & Khalid, 2016). Arguably, the three serve as extensions on the internet as a means of distributing and decentralizing computing to include off-site service providers as an integral part of the service provision environment.

The cloud computing market’s maturity provides end-users with numerous options from which to choose when developing their individualized iterations of a cloud-based architecture. As the name suggests, SAAS focuses on providing software services in the cloud using independent architecture whose sole purpose is supporting the provision of these services through the internet (Hussein & Khalid, 2016). To achieve this, providers maintain dedicated data centers that host the SAAS applications and holds data unique to each user’s implementation, with users paying to maintain access to these resources. Duan et al. (2015) note that the use of an internet browser is integral in accessing SAAS applications, with the majority of providers availing their services through user interfaces accessible over the internet. Examples of services that utilize this approach are NetSuite and Oracle CRM On Demand, which serve multiple users and provide them with access to their respective subscriptions using the SAAS model (Duan, et al., 2015).

Another iteration of cloud services is the PAAS model, in which providers avail a collection of infrastructure software alongside middleware components to allow users to develop their applications in cloud environments (Hussein & Khalid, 2016). This model differs from SAAS since, in the latter, the providers avail a complete solution that targets users with a need for that particular software without requiring them to install it on their local computing infrastructure. For PAAS, the providers take it a step further by providing users with a full-service platform incorporating the development tools and middleware components that they need to develop their own solutions and deliver them to their intended markets (Duan, et al., 2015). PAAS serves as the most prevalent model in cloud computing due to its applicability in environments such as IT departments that require third-party infrastructure to ensure the delivery of their applications or services. In this regard, PAAS decentralizes the multi-tier frameworks required for the creation of software solution as well as the provision of these solutions through cloud computing infrastructure.

On-demand availability is one of the key selling points of cloud computing and on this aspect, IAAS serves as an example of ways through which cloud computing completely revolutionizes the IT industry. In the traditional computing model, users and organizations had to make an active commitment to the retention and maintenance of hardware assets that could serve not only their existing needs but also nascent requirements arising due to changing user needs and market environments (Duan, et al., 2015). Such commitments remain a reality in the modern context and IAAS provides an avenue through which users can provision resources depending on their actual needs and thereby reduce the cost burden associated with intermittent provisioning. Rather than committing to specific resources, IAAS enables users to allocate computing and storage resources depending on their real-time needs and optimize their cost profiles effectively. Consequently, IAAS providers not only offload the calculated risk of obtaining computing resources as incurred in the traditional model but also provide users with a solution to the elasticity of demand.

Cloud environments exist in three variants, namely the community, hybrid, and private cloud infrastructures that all require the use of internet services to access them. In the modern business landscape, organizations with similar needs can collaborate to develop a shared cloud environment that allows them to collate resources to meet their individual and collective needs (Chou, 2015). However, this also means that they share similar vulnerability profiles, with Hussein and Khalid (2016) noting that the ability to require all users to comply with particular security standards offers additional security for the shared infrastructure if applied in an effective manner. In hybrid clouds, users utilize a mix of cloud hosts and self-managed cloud setups in a way that combines these two elements to deploy organizational assets outside the physical locations of these entities. Private clouds offer a different experience whereby organizations have full control over their cloud computing environments and even when they host these on external data centers, they retain administrative oversight over the cloud resources.

Analyzing the advent of cloud computing reveals a distinct dependence on the internet as a resource that enables the outsourcing of computing tasks that previously required discrete corporate computing space. Rather than moving from one centralized environment to another, Puthal et al. (2015) argue that cloud computing provides companies with an ability to make case-specific decisions that distribute their cloud computing environments to suit organizational needs. One key advantage is that companies no longer have to maintain and upgrade hardware assets to capitalize on innovations in the IT industry since they outsource this responsibility to cloud computing service providers. Chou (2015) notes the existence of a collaborative environment in which the service providers increase the efficacy of companies’ use of these technologies as part of their proposed value in the industry. As a result, the use of cloud computing allows companies to leverage technology in a way that maximizes their productivity while minimizing the costs incurred in adopting new innovations to sustain their participation in their respective sectors.

Even with the inherent advantages of outsourcing computing tasks to cloud service providers, it is also prudent to acknowledge what users give up when choosing to offload some of these responsibilities. For instance, the availability of storage as part of the cloud computing offer can limit users’ utilization of local data repositories, which subjects their data to as much vulnerability as the providers themselves face (Hussein & Khalid, 2016). In this regard, outsourcing critical elements of an organization’s computing infrastructure introduces security risks unique to the individual service providers as well as the organization’s effectiveness in utilizing its cloud framework (Avram, 2014). A unique risk that arises in cloud environments is that organizations entrust their data to third parties who also deal with other companies, further increasing the computing footprint of these service providers. As a result, issues such as system downtime become a factor that organizations cannot control in cloud computing environments compared to their ability to control such problems in the context of local computing setups.

Effective management of the risks inherent to cloud computing requires an in-depth analysis of the tools and systems that comprise the cloud structure. One of the fundamental components is dynamic computing, whereby scalability concerns and varying user needs lead to the creation of redundant levels that can grow organically based on user needs (Duan, et al., 2015). By focusing on virtualized environments, cloud computing providers can leverage standardized hardware that can scale up without requiring a rework of the architecture supporting cloud-based activities. Furthermore, automation helps to reduce the challenge faced in provisioning and de-provisioning cloud resources for a variety of users with individual needs (Puthal, et al., 2015). To this effect, the standardization of software and hardware components makes scaling easier while also minimizing the complexity of management operations in a service-centric environment. The outcome is a flexible environment that can meet the needs of users with varying resource requirements without exposing their individual installations to access by other users who utilize the same cloud computing platforms.

One of the ways that cloud computing offers flexibility to users is the variability in the approaches utilized in serving user needs. Overall, users have a need for either systems or applications that they provision on an independent basis, with the services taking on either managed or self-managed operational models (Puthal, et al., 2015). Self-management implies the ability of individual users to know the systems that they utilize and utilize them effectively in ways that ensure that they obtain maximum benefit from their ability to choose and change cloud services independently. For the service providers, this also reduces the amount of money and time expended in administering the end-services since proficient users take on this responsibility as part of the overall benefits of their empowerment (Chou, 2015). Arguably, this also means that users control the exposure of their selected cloud environments to the risks that cloud computing imposes on their operations. However, the tradeoff also allows them to provision cloud resources in ways that match their unique needs.

The popularity of cloud services from the perspective of individual and corporate end-users is evident in the breadth of applications to which these user bases apply cloud computing technologies. For instance, Puthal et al. (2015) report widespread use of cloud computing setups for software developers, whereby the availability of discrete and low-cost testing environments provides them with a means to engage in rapid prototyping without incurring inhibitive costs. Comparatively, the traditional computing model would prove a hindrance to such activities since, in the case of cloud computing, users only incur costs for active computing time between the provisioning and de-provisioning stages. Furthermore, the availability of these resources over the internet further increases the utility of cloud computing in the overall IT industry since it leads to the rapid development and adoption of innovations that would otherwise require extensive investments to achieve (Chou, 2015). The resulting tradeoff between ownership and flexibility provides opportunities for users with different needs to capitalize on the existence of the cloud services market.

The reduced technicality of maintaining access to a computing environment that serves a user’s needs adequately enables both small and large players to participate in the cloud computing industry in a variety of positions.         Having access to hardware and software at a fraction of the costs is an enormous benefit to the user end of the industry since it reduces the emphasis placed on maintaining in-house computing capacity and enables the reallocation of resources to other activities (Chou, 2015). Furthermore, cloud computing service providers also operate from multiple locations, providing users with service redundancy that reduces their exposure to the risks associated with service downtime (Avram, 2014). Adherence to conventions in the IT industry further complements the use of cloud resources, increasing cross-service compatibility and allowing users to create redundant computing environments in the cloud. The ability to secure business-critical services against downtime and scale computing resources to suit individual demands thereby makes the case for cloud computing as a critical component of organizational IT policies.

As noted, cloud computing has a strict dependence on internet availability, which means that the proliferation of the internet in personal and corporate environments creates a diverse market for cloud computing as a field. For instance, Duan et al. (2015) highlight that it led to a revolution in how individuals and organizations solve computing and storage problems, providing a customer base for service providers who now show motivation to innovate continuously. As the companies operating in this field compete, they also introduce new products and services that further legitimize cloud computing and increase its relevance to end-users. Furthermore, awareness of cloud computing technologies continues to become mainstream as more users interact with products and services that utilize cloud infrastructure and perceive the benefits inherent in the cloud (Puthal, et al., 2015). Therefore, there is an impetus for users to investigate further ways to capitalize on the availability and flexibility of cloud resources, especially due to the innovative and low-cost nature of offers by providers in this field.

Although cloud computing appears as the next frontier in the IT industry, it is also prudent to note that the evident tradeoff between the benefits of cloud infrastructure and the shortcomings of retaining data off-site. As users become more adept at handling the challenge of ensuring the security, resilience, and availability of their cloud infrastructure, this tradeoff should become less of a concern in the organizational setting (Chou, 2015). In addition, the high tolerance that cloud environments have for innovation and experimentation make them an asset that the It industry can leverage to enhance the pace at which it uncovers and learns to implement new technologies. The culture of rapid prototyping on PAAS systems provides a distinct example of the possibilities that lay ahead for cloud computing, with this becoming a necessity in a world that requires innovative solutions in fields such as data mining among others (Duan, et al., 2015). Therefore, cloud computing represents a field whose importance to the IT industry suggests that it has a future as a central element of individual and organizational computing environments.

Cloud computing describes the online computing resources accessed through the internet in either assisted or self-managed setups. This field represents a diversion from the traditional computing model where users maintained local computing resources and incurred the costs involved in upgrading, maintaining, and replacing these systems. In contrast, cloud service providers avail these resources at a fraction of the cost, allowing users to scale their installations to suit demand. Cloud service providers avail three service variants namely software-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service, and platform-as-a-service, the last of which serves as the most prevalent model in the market. The competitive nature of the cloud services sector increases innovation in the sector and reduces costs while providing end-users with a variety of configurations to match their context-specific needs. Regardless of the tradeoffs between cloud computing and traditional computing models, it is evident that cloud computing stands to revolutionize the IT industry through its emphasis on experimentation and innovation.


Avram, M. G. (2014). Advantages and challenges of adopting cloud computing from an enterprise perspective. Procedia Technology, 12, 529-534.

Chou, D. C. (2015). Cloud computing: A value creation model. Computer Standards & Interfaces, 38, 72-77.

Duan, Y., Fu, G., Zhou, N., Sun, X., Narendra, N. C., & Hu, B. (2015, June). Everything as a service (XaaS) on the cloud: origins, current and future trends. In 2015 IEEE 8th International Conference on Cloud Computing (CLOUD) (pp. 621-628). IEEE.

Hussein, N. H., & Khalid, A. (2016). A survey of Cloud Computing Security challenges and solutions. International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security, 14(1), 52.

Puthal, D., Sahoo, B. P. S., Mishra, S., & Swain, S. (2015, January). Cloud computing features, issues, and challenges: a big picture. In Computational Intelligence and Networks (CINE), 2015 International Conference on (pp. 116-123). IEEE.

September 04, 2023
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