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Exploring the connections between cloud computing & IT

March 01, 2022
Men standing, working inside cloud computing server room

The combined popularity of cloud computing and the open source software movement has seen the options for developers to build and run more scalable, resilient, modular and updatable applications rise at an inexorable rate. It has also created a sizable overlap between cloud computing and information technology (IT), especially for data storage, security, and communications in business.

To realize the full potential of cloud computing in IT, we first need to understand the relationship between the two. Keep reading to take a closer look at these burgeoning technologies, including what kinds of skills are needed for professionals who facilitate the connections and carry out the functions between them.

What is Cloud Computing?

Generally speaking, the cloud is a vast network of remote servers around the world that are hooked together and meant to operate as a single ecosystem. These servers are used to store and manage data, run applications, or deliver content or a service such as streaming videos, web mail, office productivity software, or social media.1 Thus, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—including servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence—over the cloud.2 Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon are among the top providers of cloud security and cloud computing services.

There are currently four main types of cloud computing available: infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), serverless, and software as a service (SaaS). IaaS is the most basic of the cloud categories and involves renting IT infrastructure from a cloud provider. This includes servers, virtual machines, networks and operating systems. In PaaS, web developers have complete access to an open environment platform to create, test and manage software applications without having to worry about all of the set-up and upkeep.

As the name implies, serverless computing allows for the app-building functions above without having to manage the servers or infrastructure that make it possible—the cloud provider does all of that for you. Lastly, SaaS is a fast and convenient way to deliver software applications through the cloud, typically on a subscription basis. Gmail and Microsoft Outlook are good examples of SaaS.2

The Benefits of Cloud Computing

According to a study by the International Data Group, 69% of businesses are already using cloud technology in one capacity or another, and 18% say they plan to implement cloud computing solutions at some point.3 To understand its relatively recent rise in popularity, let’s walk through some of the most common benefits of cloud computing.

  • Cost Effective

Gone are the days of buying hardware and software, setting it up, and paying for the electricity and personnel to keep it running 24/7. Cloud computing puts all of your applications and programs in one place and minimizes the resources needed to power them. It also eliminates the need to hire and pay a large team of IT professionals to handle all of its parts and functions.

  • Safe & Secure

Data backup, file encryption, strict user settings, and nearly constant cloud computing security checks will keep your information exponentially more secure than, say, a hard drive stored in a desk. Additionally, the cloud provider with whom you work will take on the burden of monitoring and protecting all of your data, then alerting you and deploying various patches or updates when necessary. While your cloud IT team might have to step in where there are outages or breaches, it usually runs entirely independently.

  • Flexible

Your organization’s needs are unique, and cloud computing solutions are designed to adapt to fit them. Cloud computing has very few limitations; the amount of resources it requires, the speed at which it works, and the locations from which you can access its contents are vast, reliable and ever-expanding. You can adjust as your business expands, adding or removing features as you see fit.

  • On Demand

Team members can view and share information easily and securely across a cloud-based platform. Whenever and wherever they are, on almost any device they prefer, it will remain consistent and accessible. This allows your organization to connect disparate teams, work on the go and monitor progress almost instantly to improve your workflow.

  • High Performing

Almost all of the cloud computing services available today run on a worldwide network of data centers, all of which are upgraded regularly with the latest technologies and best practices. You don’t need to wait for system updates to load or burden your IT team with purchasing and installing new software— the performance benefits of cloud computing include reduced lag time, faster network speeds and minimal roadblocks.

The Role of the Cloud Computing Security Professional

As more and more organizations replace their outdated IT systems with cloud platforms, they’re also creating internal teams of security and/or cloud IT professionals to handle all of the cloud’s functions and users. Their duties go far beyond onboarding and tutorials; these cloud computing experts determine which platforms are used where, by whom, how often, and through which devices. They also perform regular security checks of their own, educate users on best practices, and are the first to respond to any and all issues.

Cloud computing security professionals should be well-versed in the following topics:4

  • Cloud migration and employment
  • Machine learning and artificial intelligence
  • Database skills
  • Programming languages (NET, Java, Python, and SQL)
  • Serverless architecture

If you’re interested in assuming one of these roles, consider a master’s degree in computing or a related field. The online Master’s in Computer and Information Science at Marquette University, for example, has an entire course dedicated to cloud computing and web applications. These skills can translate to lucrative positions for a cloud provider, or in a more senior role leading cloud IT and development operations for an organization.

Navigating Digital Turbulence

As we touched on above, one of the main benefits of cloud computing is the protection and privacy that it offers. RapidScale, a global managed cloud services provider, claims that 94% of business saw an improvement in security after switching to the cloud, and 91% said the cloud makes it easier to meet government compliance requirements.5 Depending on the cloud platform, there are several layers of security that an organization can choose from and implement: two step authentication, individual user settings, encrypted data, automatic backups, etc.

Unfortunately, for all of the benefits of cloud computing and its army of resources, we have to remember that technology is not infallible. Cyberattacks, system outages, and other errors will occur from time to time, despite your cloud provider’s best efforts to ensure that they don’t. While they can alert you of the issue, recommend next steps, and release an eventual upgrade or patch, your provider can only do so much, and they certainly can’t be on site to walk you through the recovery process themselves. That’s why having a dedicated team of savvy security professionals is crucial for long-term success. A prominent example of this is the Log4j vulnerability of 2021, which some teams are still working through a few months later.

Get Ahead of What’s Next

As the demand for and adoption of cloud computing platforms grows, so do the number of jobs tied to them. From machine learning to engineering to cybersecurity, today’s information technology field is facing an unprecedented shortage of experienced professionals. By 2029, it’s expected to outpace other industries with 11% growth.6

Ready to seize your next opportunity? In as few as two years, you can join the rest of our Marquette online M.S. in Computer and Information Science alums as software engineers, lead systems engineers, business analysts, and senior risk engineers at impressive companies around the world. To start your journey, all you have to do is apply.