What Is Cloud Computing? Skills Required and Career Outlook
Cloud computing offers on-demand delivery of off-site computing resources through the internet. Most often utilized for convenient file storage, cloud computing’s origins go back as far as a 1960s computer network theory from a U.S. Department of Defense scientist. About 30 years later, AT&T introduced Personal Link Services, its web-based storage service. In 2006, when Amazon launched Amazon Web Services (AWS), the term “the cloud” became part of the vernacular.
Cloud computing is decades old. But it is ever-evolving and remains a catalyst for innovation and the foundation for many emerging technologies. Cloud computing underpins advancements in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics. Individuals interested in exploring what cloud computing is can take advantage of a bootcamp education program to learn how to use, implement, and innovate cloud computing concepts and help shape the future of technology.
What Is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing works through a distributed network of servers that handle data storage and processing for users to access via the internet. For example, when someone saves a document from their device using cloud computing, the document is stored on a remote server. The server could reside in a data center thousands of miles away. But, when the user is ready to continue working on the document, they can access it anytime, right from their device (or multiple devices). Also, any other person authorized by the user can access the document from anywhere.
Cloud computing eliminates the need for an organization to own certain physical computing infrastructure, which can be expensive and difficult to maintain. In the cloud computing model, the responsibility for managing the servers and their associated hardware belongs to a service provider, such as Microsoft Azure.
Besides servers, other critical components of cloud computing include:
Storage: Technology such as computer components and recording media used for preserving digital data
Applications: Software that enables computers to execute specific tasks
Services: Technology that enables users to access and manage cloud applications via the Internet and on-demand
Cloud Computing Categories
Organizations are turning to cloud computing to prepare for the future. According to Google, over 41% of business leaders report increased cloud adoption. The growing popularity of cloud computing has led cloud computing providers to develop different models to meet different user needs. These include infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS) models:
Infrastructure as a Service
In the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) model, a cloud services provider provides computing resources virtually. This format eliminates the need for users to maintain their own data center resources on-site. Managing and maintaining this infrastructure is the responsibility of the cloud services provider—allowing organizations to focus on business operations. Examples of IaaS include Microsoft Azure and AWS.
Platform as a Service
The platform as a service (PaaS) model offers users an on-demand platform where they can develop, test, and deploy applications. In this model, the service provider still manages the underlying infrastructure, which allows developers to optimize their app development process. It can also help improve collaboration among individuals working in different locations. PaaS can ease the integration of applications and permit faster application development. Examples of PaaS include Salesforce and Dropbox.
Software as a Service
Cloud computing users can access various software as a service (SaaS) cloud-based applications. The types of applications available vary—from office software to specialized services like machine learning and content delivery. These applications run on cloud infrastructure instead of users’ physical devices or servers. Examples of SaaS include Google Workspace and Slack.
5 Benefits of Cloud Computing
When researching what cloud computing is, individuals may be most interested in its benefits. Cloud computing is ideal for storing, processing, and accessing large volumes of data. It also can facilitate collaboration and real-time data analysis. This allows businesses and individuals to rapidly innovate, develop, and deploy applications. Cloud computing can help organizations achieve formerly unprecedented efficiency, connectivity, and technological advancement.
Below are some of the most cited benefits of cloud computing by leaders adopting it for their organizations.
Cloud scalability can enable an organization to stay agile as the business and market evolve. It means a company does not have to buy or manage physical hardware to expand. Rather, a cloud service provider adjusts the computing resources it provides to the company as needed. This can help the company optimize performance and efficiency while saving costs.
Cloud computing provides employees with the flexibility to access files through various web-enabled devices, which can foster productivity and promote efficient operations. Additionally, organizations that outsource their information technology (IT) to a service provider gain the added time to focus on their core goals and customer satisfaction.
Cloud computing eliminates the need to purchase expensive on-premises hardware and licenses. Some models offer pay-as-you-go packages to help businesses stay within their budget. Additionally, cloud computing allows organizations to enjoy the benefits of updated IT without the upgrade costs.
Easier Access to Data
Cloud computing can simplify data access for organizations; all that's needed is internet connectivity. Access to data is secure as service providers offer comprehensive security policies, technologies, and controls to safeguard data against potential threats. Cloud computing can also facilitate an organization’s data storage, backup, and recovery, as data can be stored in more than one cloud provider site.
Cloud-based applications offer automatic refreshes and updates, eliminating the need for IT departments to do manual organization-wide updates. The servers can be easily maintained, enabling minimal or even zero downtime.
Cloud Computing Skills
Though they typically do not require coding knowledge, cloud computing roles do require a number of other competencies. Individuals need to understand what cloud architecture is and how to manage cloud resources effectively. Here are some of the key skills and knowledge areas cloud computing job applicants need:
System Management: System management encompasses overseeing computer systems in an enterprise—including performing diagnostics, distributing software, conducting backup and recovery tasks, checking file and disk integrity, and scanning for viruses and other system threats.
Virtualization: Virtualization is the creation of virtual systems using software to mimic hardware capabilities. It involves dividing a computer's components—such as its processors, memory, and storage—into virtual machines.
Troubleshooting: Troubleshooting is a type of problem-solving. It is a systematic approach to finding the source of computer issues and correcting them.
Application Migration: Application migration involves transferring an application from one computing environment to another. The migration can include moving from on-premises applications to the cloud or moving cloud applications from one cloud platform to another.
Performance Testing: Performance testing is a type of software quality assurance activity. It involves testing the performance of a system under various scenarios or workloads to determine the system’s responsiveness and stability.
Cloud Workloads: A cloud workload comprises assets such as servers, virtual machines, data, and applications. Assessing a cloud's workload is essential to ensuring its performance and stability.
Identity Access Management: Identity access management is a framework for managing access to computing resources. It helps ensure that only authorized individuals can access computers, data, software, networks, and more while keeping unauthorized users out.
Disaster Recovery: Disaster recovery is the process of recovering and restoring critical IT systems, data, and services after a disruptive event, such as a natural disaster, a human error, or a cyberattack.
Web Services and API: Web services are applications typically accessible via web browsers, and application programming interfaces (APIs) allow two applications to connect and interact.
Database Management: Database management entails a structured set of procedures—such as administrative and maintenance procedures—that securely organizes, stores, and retrieves data to ensure its integrity, availability, and performance.
Cloud Computing Career Outlook
Cloud computing roles can vary widely. For example, a cloud solution architect works closely with business decision-makers to determine the right architecture, configurations, and designs required to meet the business’s objectives. The job is technical in nature but typically requires business acumen. A cloud developer focuses on building cloud-ready applications. The job encompasses coding and debugging software. Other common roles include cloud engineer and cloud administrator.
Most businesses and organizations use cloud computing at some level. Cloud computing’s footprint is large in industries like banking and financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, marketing, retail, supply chain, and technology. Cloud computing is also a primary driver of the burgeoning gig economy.
Widespread digital transformation is a primary factor in the growing adoption of the cloud. According to Grand View Research, the cloud computing market is projected to reach nearly $1.6 trillion by 2030, which represents an annual growth rate of more than 14% from 2023 to 2030.
Gartner projects that most new digital workloads (95%) will be deployed on cloud-native platforms by 2025. With growing adoption, demand for individuals with cloud computing skills will increase. While compensation for cloud computing roles can vary, the median annual salary for individuals with cloud computing skills was about $133,000 as of July 2023, according to Payscale. The median salary for cloud architects in February 2023 was about $139,000, according to Lightcast™.
Prepare for a Career in Cloud Computing
As the digital landscape evolves, cloud computing helps organizations keep up. If you want to be part of this growing field, the first step is to understand what cloud computing is. The next step is to know that you must evolve as well. This means building the skills for a career in cloud computing.
Enrolling in Fullstack Academy’s live online Cloud Computing Bootcamp can help accelerate your career journey. The part-time program can prepare you to obtain certifications that show your qualifications in AWS and Azure, the platform leaders in the cloud computing space. Explore the advantages of a Fullstack Academy 100% online bootcamp.
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