The term ‘cloud computing’ became popular in the early 2000s with the emergence of the “big 3” hyper-scale cloud-computing providers: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure, but the computing concept as a service has been around for as far back as the 1960s when the idea of renting time on a mainframe from computer bureaus was the norm.
These renting services were primarily overtaken by the development of the PC and corporate data centers, making it more affordable to own a computer. Cloud computing then followed and took hold of the market with unique services.
Companies are now using the cloud as the vital enabler to complete their digital transformation, and the global pandemic (COVID 19) has further accelerated this call.
Cloud computing is the latest C-suite agenda item. Organizations are shifting from the traditional piecemeal approach to an end-to-end digital transformation with the cloud at the center. Now, more than ever, cloud computing is critical to help companies reinvent, reopen, and outmaneuver uncertainty.
What is Cloud Computing?
In simple terms, cloud computing involves delivering on-demand computing services, including applications, storage, and processing power, over the internet and through the pay-as-you-go model.
Cloud is a computing model where networks, servers, development tools, storage, and even apps are enabled over the internet. A cloud can be private (propriety network or data center supplying hosted services to only those who have specific access or permission settings) or public, selling to anyone on the internet. Public or private, cloud computing aims to provide computing resources and IT services with easy, scalable access.
Instead of companies making significant investments to buy hardware and software components necessary for cloud computing model implementation, train staff, and provide constant maintenance, most, if not all, of these needs can be handled by a cloud computing service provider.
How Does Cloud Computing Work?
One perk of using cloud computing services is that businesses can avoid the upfront cost and difficulty of buying and maintaining their own IT equipment or data centers and instead simply pay service providers for access to what they use when they use it. In turn, cloud computing service providers can benefit from great economies of scale by providing the same services to many customers.
Cloud computing allows customer devices to access data and cloud apps through the internet from remote physical computers, databases, and servers.
An internet network connection links the back end, which comprises servers, databases, and computers, to the front end, which consists of the accessed client device, network, browser, and software applications. The back end is designed to serve as the repository for storing data that has been accessed by the front end, and communication between the two ends is managed by a central server, which uses protocols to promote data exchange. The central server also uses middleware and software to control how different client devices and cloud servers connect. Typically, each individual application or workload has a dedicated server.
Cloud computing heavily relies on automation technologies and virtualization. Automation and other related orchestration capabilities give users a high amount of self-service to deploy workloads, provision resources, and connect services without direct interference from the service provider’s IT staff. On the other hand, virtualization enables accessible provision and abstraction of services and all cloud systems into logical structures that clients can request and utilize.
What Are the Benefits of Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing infrastructure demonstrates various characteristics that have resulted in meaningful benefits for different businesses. These include:
Elasticity-Businesses can scale up or down resource usage levels quickly and freely as needs change. Therefore, they can avoid the need for massive investments in equipment that might or might not be active.
On-demand self-service provisioning- End users can request services such as network storage and server time without traditional manual setup and configuration.
Broad internet access-Users can access the cloud data and applications or upload data to the cloud via an internet connection from anywhere, anytime.
Measured service-Cloud computing works on a pay-as-you-go model where you pay only for resources and workloads you use.
Workload resilience-There are often redundant resources that ensure resilient storage and maintain the running of important user workloads.
Resource pooling-Cloud’s multi-tenancy model allows several users to share a single application and physical infrastructure yet still retain privacy and security over personal data.
Types of Cloud Computing Services
There are three main cloud computing services :
IaaS (Infrastructure as Service)
This is the most common model offering the fundamental infrastructure of virtual servers, storage drives, networks, operating systems, and application programming interfaces (APIs). IaaS providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) allow for flexibility, reliability, and scalability that users seek with the cloud and eradicate the need for office hardware. It fully utilizes a pay-for-use service and is available for private, public, or hybrid infrastructure.
PaaS providers deploy infrastructure and software frameworks, but companies can develop and run their own applications over the internet using web portals, APIs, or gateway software. This cloud model is used for general software development and is ideal for situations involving an existing data source such as a CRM tool.
SaaS (Software as a Service)
This computing model delivers software applications via the internet to various businesses that use the pay-per-use or subscription model. It is managed from a central location to unburden users from maintaining it themselves. SaaS is handy for CRM and other applications that require excessive web access, such as mobile sales web management.
Cloud Computing Deployment Models
There are three common types of cloud deployment:
Private cloud- Delivers service from the business data center to various internal users. This model allows businesses to build and maintain their own underlying cloud infrastructure.
Public cloud- This delivers the cloud service through a third-party cloud service provider (CSP) over the internet on a pay-per-use model.
Hybrid cloud- This is a combination of private and public cloud services, with automation and orchestration between the two.
Cloud computing is becoming an increasingly attractive strategy for businesses seeking affordable, versatile data processing and storage solutions. The concept has been gaining traction for years. But the global pandemic and subsequent shift to remote work make cloud computing imperative. As a result, cloud security is similarly essential.
The Future of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing has rapidly developed and is settling as the default position for many users and providers. Software providers are increasingly offering their apps over the internet as services rather than standalone products as they switch to a subscription model. However, cloud computing has some potential downsides, such as new costs and increased risks for companies using it.
Thus, businesses must first understand all aspects of the concept before going all in and implementing the technology. If you are considering the idea of cloud computing for your business, contact us and find out how we can help.