Floating on a Secure Cloud

Floating on a Secure Cloud


When electricity was first used commercially, a factory that wanted to run electric motors had to build its own power plant on the premises of the factory grounds. Each factory had its own power plant. There were no public utilities for electricity. Nicola Tesla pioneered the first large, centralized, electrical utility company at Niagara Falls, using the force of the falling water for power and converting it to electricity, which would then travel long distances over copper wires to customers using the alternating current (AC) system he devised. Creating a centralized electric utility using alternating current that could travel large distances, instead of Thomas Edison’s direct current (DC) system, which was limited to short distances of a few miles, was revolutionary at the time. Companies quickly realized that it made much more sense to simply pay for electricity with a monthly utility bill rather than bother with the trouble and expense of having to maintain their own on-premise equipment for generating electricity. The same type of revolution is taking place within the computer industry today, where computing power is rapidly becoming a utility that you pay for monthly, and you no longer have to maintain your own local, on-premise computer servers. Rather than buy your own hardware equipment, you pay for a service, and the “utility company” (in this case, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, Google, Amazon, or Alibaba, to name the major players) takes care of the physical hardware computer equipment for you at its centralized locations. You connect to its centralized server farms by way of an Internet connection. (A server farm is a collection of interconnected computer servers housed together in a single physical location to provide massive computing power for large numbers of offsite users.) These service providers not only provide disk space for you to save your files but also hosts applications. The hosted applications are installed and upgraded by the centralized provider, so you no longer need to install and upgrade your software; instead, you create user accounts on its system and then simply log in by way of a web page. These hosted applications are referred to as Software as a Service (SaaS) rather than the software products. SaaS is software you rent rather than buy. Furthermore, you don’t need to buy a new computer if you run out of disk space or database space; you simply ask for more space, and it can be quickly partitioned for your use — for a price, of course. Your data is stored on the cloud provider’s computer system in communal computers, but separated by software that partitions your data into a separate area that is referred to as your tenant or your instance. The term tenant is now common usage because the SaaS software is rented rather than owned. 

This list describes some of the benefits of the SaaS/cloud computing model: 
» You always have the latest software. The hosted application is continuously upgraded by the SaaS provider. You avoid costly upgrades — and the dreaded problem of falling too far behind in application version. 
» You can add more capacity and increase performance incrementally. This way, you don’t have to purchase, install, configure, and maintain any additional hardware computer equipment. 
» Your data is backed up for you by the cloud computing provider. Your IT staff doesn’t have to purchase backup equipment and configure backup software and backup plans. 
» Your data is more secure from hackers. Though many company executives worried at first about the security of their data in the cloud, nowadays the prevailing wisdom is that the opposite is true: It may be easier for hackers to attack your data if you’re trying to safeguard it by yourself on your own small network rather than relying on the sophisticated security safeguards put in place by large corporations such as IBM, Amazon, Microsoft, and Oracle. 
» Your employees can connect to the cloud applications using an Internet connection from anywhere in the world. They aren’t restricted to getting on a virtual private network (VPN) connection. Most often, cloud applications are mobile enabled so that employees can use them on their smartphones and tablets as well.

Also check out my new article on Transitioning to the Cloud here.

Microsoft’s cloud service, Azure, is a leader in cloud computing. Public companies such as Microsoft and Amazon don’t always break out their revenue numbers in consistent and comparable categories when reporting financial results, so it’s hard to tell exactly who is in the lead at any given time. Nonetheless, Microsoft is typically listed in the top three of cloud providers, with IBM and Amazon. As a leader in providing cloud services, with Azure, Microsoft has a powerful and extensive cloud hosting environment. In other words, it has massive computing resources in data centers throughout the globe. When you get Dynamics 365 for ERP (enterprise resource planning) and CRM (customer relationship management), you also get the scalability, performance, security, and tight integration with other Microsoft cloud technologies that comes with Azure. Also, because Microsoft has its own cloud service infrastructure with Azure, it isn’t dependent on another company to provide it — and so it isn’t affected by another company catching it off guard and changing the rates or technology. That decreases your risk of a compatibility problem between the hosting company and the application development company. With Dynamics 365, the cloud provider is also the app developer.

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