Nigeria: The Growing Importance of Cloud Computing in ICT

23 February 2021

Abuja — Over the past several years, computing has accelerated its fantastic pace of innovation that has manifested into cloud and mobile computing, extending businesses far beyond the confines of enterprise. In cloud computing, resources such as infrastructure, application platforms, and business processes are provided through the internet to users in an on demand basis. Cloud computing comes with both benefits and demerits, and its impact will depends on whether professionals can increase its potencies and evade its demerits, thereby increasing its productivity, efficiency, security and cost effectiveness.

Cloud computing is an internet based technology, that offers assistance to business owners in order to advance their businesses. The cloud is surrounded by network of hardware and software for resource sharing purpose. According to literary study, the shared resources are automated and virtualized in order for them to be simply accessed. The cloud computing also help industrialist to lessen infrastructure and operational cost, hence the users are only anticipated to pay for the resources utilised. It is helpful for organisations with active infrastructure or with limited duration of resources. Cloud computing is described with varying terms which disseminates shared resources over the internet platform. The servers hosted and shared are mainly grouped into three classes, namely; Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). A cloud service is mainly employed by end-users from time to time, usually on the hourly basis. It has a "pay as you go" feature which makes cloud service a simple platform. Cloud service is mostly managed and controlled by the provider. Joel Weis states that there are public and private varieties of the cloud. When a third party offers computing resources as a service it is considered as a service, but in a private cloud a user operates as a sole user and as owner of the resources. Hence a public cloud engages and sells services to any individual user having internet accessibility. Presently, Amazon is an example of web services provider that offers mainly public cloud provider type. A private cloud employed stringent policy for network accessibility for end users, which utilise hosted services of data centre. When a service provider employs public cloud resources in the production of private cloud, the resultant cloud is called virtual private cloud. The main aim of cloud computing is to assist in making computing resources to be more scalable.

There are various types of cloud computing based on services rendered namely; SAAS (software as a service), PAAS (platform as a service) and IAAS (infrastructure as a service) respectively. These services are hosted remotely and accessed by end users via websites.

Cloud environment is broken down into public private, hybrid and community cloud respectively. Services are available to the public on a lager range on the internet in public cloud. It also provides flexible and cost effective means of solution deployment, management and providing infrastructural deployment. It can be used by companies such as Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) on demand. In private cloud, authorised users are usually by one customer in a private network whose basic task is data security. The problem of this type of network is that the Total Cost of Ownership has to be handled by the customer and at the same time maintaining the network alone.

Hybrid clouds are usually employed where a customer has the hardware and software requirement to employ peer to peer typed of computing environment. The customer is expected to have a dedicated server in order to have its secured data and concurrently link client computer systems to the public, for example an organisation may wish to store some of its sensitive data in the cloud. Community clouds are mostly places where customers with similar IT requirement and share an infrastructure offered by a single supplier. Customer cost of services is spread amongst stakeholders, which makes this model a better option economically. The total cost of ownership of public cloud environment is reduced.

The popularity of cloud computing is a significant trend in the field of information technology today. Notwithstanding even though not all things will migrate into the cloud, it is justified to say that almost every organisation will employ this new trending discovery in its operations. For experts of geographic information system (GIS), Cloud computing provides numerous possibilities. First, its easier development, ESRI offers an already configured Amazon Machine image AMI which contains Arch GIS Server. The developer of VM specifies an AMI by which the instance can be created. An AMI can domicile in Linux or windows server. Instead of installing and configuring the product on a machine in your data centre, EC2VM can be created from AMI Faster deployment: several organisations employing a new server machine to run new software for its operations required tedious and time consuming processes. It can take more than one week engaging AWS. On the contrary, any individual with valid credit card can obtain an EC2VM on the internet within minutes only. If having ARCGIS server, the application employs it and gets it running by using AWS option. AWS can be cost effective depending on costs set by different data centre. It is true when an application with elastic (i.e., widely varying) demand is involved. Due to the fact that software running on AWS can be accessed by the public user having access to the internet connection similar GIS services hosted by ARCGIS SERVER IN an EC2VM can also be accessed through its availability. It is an eloquent approach for offering some types of information, but it raises a security questions. ArcGIS Server provides support and hosts several kinds of applications and data analysis on GIS data. Deployment of numerous instances of ArcGIS server in numerous EC2 VMs and at the same time running applications on AWS, is expected to require large amount of bandwidth but these instances and applications are managed efficiently. Running ArcGIS server in the cloud is not always encouraged in several organizations for example keeping sensitive data without security measures is not always safe but this deployment option stands better. ESRI on the Cloud ESRI offers data and other features such as layers and base maps. ESRI develops applications for the website. A data centre website for GIS applications research and assessment which employs the data on combining applications which runs on workstations in non -ESRI data centre. ArchGIS server as a platform provides GIS services to software on other work stations on the ArchGIS server hosted by Amazon EC2. Presently, customers deploy ArcGIS server on a computer running in their organization's data centre. It is also possible to deploy ArcGIS server in the cloud employing Amazon web services, although numerous providers provide public cloud platforms, which was pioneered by Amazon.

New technological advancement is expected to considerably decrease the cost of available and present technologies. However, cloud computing comes with both benefits and demerits. In finalizing its impact depends on if we can increase its potencies and evade its demerits. In this manner the cloud can increase in productivity, efficiency, security and cost effective. The most significant of these is security of data in public domain for example, running ArcGIS server in the cloud is not always encouraged in several organizations such as keeping sensitive data without security measures is not always safe but this deployment option stands better.

Aminu Ola Rasaq, a researcher, writes from Abuja

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