What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing delivers software applications and computing services from the internet (“the cloud”). Users access cloud-based services from a web browser to create, manage, and store files and other data securely. Cloud computing teams manage IT administration remotely to minimize user requirements to maintain/update applications or other services.
The centralized cloud computing model is different than on-premises (on-prem) deployments, which store all IT infrastructure onsite – and sometimes across multiple sites depending on the organization’s size and network architecture. On-prem also requires an organization’s IT team to manage all technology updates, enhancements, deployments, etc., across servers, computers, and other hardware and software.
Cloud computing relies on a network of remote servers hosted on the internet to store, manage, and process data. This architecture is designed to enhance efficiency and scalability, deploy new services rapidly, and provide reliable and secure computing services.
What are the different types of cloud computing?
The following three types of cloud computing each provide varying degrees of control, performance, administration, and services to serve myriad use cases.
- Software as a Service (SaaS) provides fully managed applications that are delivered to users via a web browser. Also known as cloud application services, SaaS, eliminates the need to download client-side applications and is responsible for all technical issues (e.g., data management and storage, server capacity, etc.). It’s the most common cloud service, with examples including Salesforce and Google Apps.
- Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provides traditional data center capabilities in a managed services model so customers aren’t responsible for purchasing, maintaining, or managing the infrastructure. IaaS cloud virtualization services include servers, storage, operating systems, and networking services managed through a user dashboard or API. IaaS examples include Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.
- Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) provides a virtual space for software development. The PaaS delivery model is similar to SaaS – but instead of providing software over the internet, PaaS provides a platform for software creation. In this model, users can focus on software development (DevOps) and enlist a third-party PaaS provider to manage the underlying infrastructure, including operating systems, servers, and other foundational requirements for software development. PaaS providers include DigitalOcean, Red Hat OpenShift (Kubernetes-based), and Google App Engine.
What are the different models of cloud computing?
There are three primary cloud computing deployment/service models: public, private, or hybrid:
- Public Cloud services are delivered over the public internet and offered to any customer. Third-party cloud service providers own and operate public clouds. Examples include AWS and Microsoft Azure.
- A Private Cloud is used exclusively by a single organization. It offers greater control and security over resources and data, making it suitable for businesses with strict data security and privacy concerns.
- The Hybrid Cloud combines public and private clouds using technology that allows data and applications to be shared between them. Hybrid cloud offers businesses greater flexibility by moving workloads between cloud solutions as needs and costs fluctuate.
What are the benefits of cloud computing?
Key cloud computing advantages include:
- Cost-effective: Reduce capital expenses for hardware, software, and other data center operational and administrative costs. Cloud users also minimize the IT administration (staff) responsible for system integration, deployments and upgrades, performance, and other technology requirements.
- Scalability: Provision/reallocate bandwidth and other resources on demand to meet user requirements and take advantage of cloud computing resources.
- Performance: Take advantage of the computing resources (including redundancies) run by public cloud providers. This includes regular updates to improve security and performance, reduce latency, etc.
- Configurability: Set up and manage your cloud computing application or system to support existing workflows or other operations. And enable integration between multiple cloud computing systems or on-prem and cloud solutions to address business goals.
- Productivity: Onsite data centers typically require hardware setup, software patching, and other time-consuming IT management responsibilities. Cloud computing removes the need for many of these tasks, so IT teams can spend time on achieving more important business goals.
- Reliability and Continuity: Strengthen business continuity by using cloud computing disaster recovery services to store an organization’s data on redundant sites across the globe.
- Security: Public cloud computing services have dedicated information security teams to implement security updates, address threats, and monitor for malicious activities. Often, public cloud computing providers are better equipped to maintain an aggressive security posture against known and emerging cyber threats.
What are some cloud computing challenges?
Cloud computing faces hurdles such as:
- Security: Storing sensitive data with cloud service providers involves the risk of unauthorized access and data breaches.
- Management complexity: Cloud infrastructure can be complex to manage in the backend, especially in hybrid or multi-cloud environments.
- Compliance: Businesses must ensure that their use of cloud services complies with all relevant laws and regulations, which can vary by country or industry.
- Reliance on internet Connectivity: Cloud services require a stable and high-speed internet connection for optimal performance.