Traditionally, computing infrastructures in the business world have consisted of complex hardware and software arsenals. In order for a company to implement a program, a series of steps would have to be performed to ensure that the software was properly configured and sufficiently secure. Since the tail–end of the noughties, however, processes have simplified across the corporate sector thanks to the innovations of cloud computing. For people who work in the field of information technology (IT), cloud expertise has swiftly become one of the foremost assets for a completive, lasting career.
The impact of cloud computing on the business sector has led to new expectations for IT professionals. On today’s job market, companies demand advanced cloud–based skill sets of anyone seeking a job as an IT programmer. At many companies, steps are underway to eliminate storage facilities and computer–administrative centers and move all such networking onto cloud servers. While this trend has ultimately lowered the demand for onsite programmers, it has led to an increased need for people with advanced knowledge in cloud–based programming. As such, IT professionals are having to update their resumes with newly listed skill sets and credentials.
The Infrastructure of Cloud Computing
Infinite benefits. The impact of cloud computing on the business sector is having numerous positive effects, but when people ask how cloud computing is changing the world, the answer could be framed in two ways. On one hand, cloud computing is making the world smaller by allowing local entities to compete on an international scale. By the same token, cloud computing is making big dreams come true for the smallest of operations, because cloud servers make it easier for upstarts to compete with established entities.
Global connectivity. In contrast to traditional computing infrastructures, which need to be maintained at onsite or offsite physical locations, cloud computing is carried out through cyberspace. Therefore, information can be exchanged between different parties within the same company around the world. Since the storage capacities on cloud servers are infinite, there’s no limit on the amount of data that can be shared at any given moment.
Remote access. Gone are the days where software programs would have to be physically distributed on discs or downloaded from an ftp server. On a cloud server, software programs of any size and capacity can be implemented for authorized personnel to activate from any location. Even on small–capacity handheld devices, complex software prompts can be triggered by the touch of a screen, because the software itself is run on the cloud.
Complex graphics. In the past, a company’s graphics applications would usually require big hardware layouts, which would have to be downloaded onto each employees PC or laptop. Now, graphics applications can simply be run on cloud servers and interacted with via smartphones and pads. For IT programmers, this marks a shift away from running such applications at onsite locations, because now the demand is for cloud–based graphics programming.
Secure data. When it comes to the uploading and distribution of data among a company network, the prevention of data loss is of paramount concern for IT administrators. Thankfully, cloud servers provide infinite space for redundant backups, which eliminates the need for onsite, vulnerable storage discs of finite capacity.
Selective access. Access to a cloud server can be restricted to one group of individuals or opened up to other groups within a network. For instance, if one business wishes to link with others in a co–op, personnel from each entity can be granted access to collectively coordinated programs through a cloud server. For IT administrators, the work here would involve coordinating such programs via cloud–based protocols.
Leveled fields. For large–scale companies, cloud computing has made things easier on numerous fronts, but for smaller companies, the revolution has come with the added benefit of a leveled playing field. Now that it’s no longer necessary to run a large, costly technical infrastructure just to be competitive, upstart companies are computing via cloud servers. The result is that new companies can quickly and easily make headway in tight markets with minimal seed capital. In short, cloud servers make it possible for small businesses to achieve the following:
- launch with little money
- reach broad areas from a small base of operations
- compete with big names with just a fraction of the overhead
The democratization of cloud computing has also spurred a solutions model in which innovation is driven by participation.
Inter–departmental communication. In traditional corporate infrastructures, IT programmers operated on what often seemed like a different island from marketing or human resources departments. Consequently, communications could sometimes get strained, and implementations would stall at certain junctures. With cloud computing, localized technical questions can now be handled quickly and more effectively by personnel within a given department, regardless of whether IT staff are reachable or on hand.
Integrated demands. As a result of these shifting dynamics, the role of IT in companies going forward will be less about performing operations from one end of the chain, and more about expediting the means through which departments can access clouds and handle things independently. Additionally, IT staff will need to have a deeper understanding of various concerns on the marketing end — most importantly the return on investment of assorted cloud–based undertakings.
Streamlined infrastructures. When it comes to sales and marketing, companies that utilize cloud–based servers are relieved of the need to analyze data at a centralized headquarters, because cloud technology allows for an easier and more reliable set of up–to–date analytics. Therefore, companies can streamline infrastructures and reduce overhead while conquering markets and maximizing sales. IT staff will play a crucial role in these developments by implementing cloud programs for entire companies to utilize with utmost efficiency.
Service expansion. Among small and medium–sized businesses, the adoption of cloud computing continues to grow as server prices come down. Since 2013, cloud–based computing services such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) have grown into multi–billion dollar industries. As part of these developments, IT departments are now expected to manage relationships between companies and cloud vendors, and to ensure that software programs are cloud compatible.
The Impact of Cloud Computing on Jobs
Training modules. For in–field service specialists, the ability to fix things at the scene is crucial. For example, if a plumber or furnace technician is unable to rectify a certain problem or replace a malfunctioning component, it can damage the credibility of the service company. Sometimes, however, there are problems that fall outside the scope of anything covered in all the memorized books and training manuals, including the following:
- damage of components that are long antiquated or undocumented
- damage resulting from rare causes
In these instances, cloud–based training modules can save the day, because here the technician can access all the needed info for fixing unusual problems and repairing rare furnace types.
Information access. Before cloud, modules could only be accessed on computers or laptops with high enough capacity to run complex programs, whereas cloud servers allow in–field personnel to access such modules remotely from the simplest handheld devices. For IT programmers, the challenge is to ensure that modules are up to speed and fully optimal, 24/7, for staff who need to connect, regardless of the time or place.
Smart buildings. As company headquarters get more elaborate with smart–building technology, cloud–activated software might ultimately power numerous sensors that could respond to the touch–free requests of staff and visitors. However, the implementation and maintenance of such software will largely rely on the cloud–based skill sets of new influxes of IT graduates.
Sales/inventory tracking. Cloud technology has been a boon for web–to–store sales, in which customers browse for merchandise in nearby stores via smartphones and pads. Retail chains that first employed such capabilities would often disappoint customers by not having certain items on hand, despite the items being listed on product–inventory apps. For obvious reasons, retailers must provide the following customer experiences, without fail, everyday and every hour:
- accurate information on product availability
- accurate descriptions of product conditions
On cloud servers, store inventory records are much more accurate and up to the minute, thereby preventing the kinds of product–app inaccuracies that could ultimately lead to wasted trips and customer complaints on Yelp and social media. Programmers who work in the IT departments of retail chains will need to ensure that cloud–based inventories are responsive and updating on a sale–by–sale basis.
Buyer’s assurance. With the advent of social media and ecommerce websites, shopping has become a less personalized activity for a growing number of consumers. Gone are the days when people only felt comfortable buying products from a human behind a cash register. Today, people will browse websites and apps for a whole range of products, and also get product recommendations and advice from online communities.
Consumer analysis. Cloud servers enable retailers to stay ahead of evolving consumer trends by making it possible to profile customers based on an individual’s online footprints. By studying a person’s online activity, a retailer can draw a fairly accurate profile on a customer’s interests and buying habits. Using this information, a retailer can then target the individual with offers according to his or her product selections and buying intervals. Basically, cloud servers allow retailers lean:
- the types of products that a customer likes
- the volume at which a customer buys
- the frequency of a customer’s purchases
Additionally, this personalized method of cloud–enabled marketing can be directed through the mediums that an individual most often frequents, be it Google, YouTube or web television. The IT graduates of tomorrow will be expected to program and implement cloud–based software so that retailers can employ these automated forms of marketing.
Loss proof. According to a 2008 study conducted by the Ponemon Institute, roughly 10,278 laptops were being lost on a weekly basis at the 36 largest airports across the U.S. For any company that employs travelling personnel who exchange classified information from remote locations, the loss of just one laptop could result in a major security breach.
Universal legality. While companies have long had the option of data encryption, that can lead to its own set of problems, especially in countries with stricter laws regarding the kinds of information that can legally be stored on a laptop. For example, when company personnel land in certain counties to attend business meetings, an encrypted laptop might be confiscated pending a review, which could in turn lead to data exposure. Such problems are eliminated altogether by cloud servers, which store protected info online for private access by authorized personnel.
Chart analysis. The dawn of the 2010s witnessed a growing influx of medical graduates who access information via mobile devices rather than computers. With cloud–computated dashboard apps, doctors can pull up a patient’s charts and enlarge images with the zoom–in prompts of the mobile touch screen. If a doctor is responding to an emergency in a remote location, information can be accessed via cloud servers. Essentially, cloud servers give doctors the ability to access the following at any given moment:
- records on a patient’s medical history
- information on a patient’s prescription–drug background
Using this information, the doctor can then make crucial medical decisions in only a fraction of the time it would take to return to a medical facility. Likewise, among wellness experts, cloud–based apps are being used to educate patients on the benefits of certain drugs and self–help techniques.
Patient monitoring. Doctors can also use cloud servers to remotely monitor patients with serious conditions, such as sleep anemia. Patients can even utilize cloud technology to document themselves for medical analysis. An infrared camera, for example, can be placed above a household mirror to gather day–by–day images of a patient’s face. The images can then be examined by a doctor at 12–month intervals for traces of abnormalities, such as early cancerous skin developments. With this information, both parties have a heads up on the immediate need for action, before the problem becomes malignant.
How Cloud Computing is Changing the World
In numerous fields across the business sector, the impact of cloud computing has benefited companies and customers alike. Behind the scenes, this has led to a radical restructuring in the way businesses are run. Likewise, IT programmers are faced with new expectations as industries demand a more expanded and integrated range of skill sets.
Still, the question might linger on the minds of new enrollees: what are cloud computing services to an incoming student who’s weighing the benefits of an IT program? The answer is an ever–expanding field of opportunities for anyone committed to gaining the skills and expertise that are taught in the Information Technology program at Vista College.