Although the term ‘cloud computing‘ has become a buzzword, many people don’t yet know what it is and why it is an inevitable shift for businesses aiming for success and profitability within the Digital Era. In this guide, you will learn everything there is to know about cloud computing and how implementing this technology can benefit your business. Keep reading!
What is cloud computing?
Before anything else, let’s get started by defining this technology. Cloud computing may be defined as on-demand access via the internet to computing resources, including servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence. The delivery of computing services over the internet (a.k.a ‘the cloud’) without direct active management by the user.
What this means in simpler terms is that instead of all the computer hardware and software you’re using on your desktop or somewhere inside your company’s network, you use the service provided to you by a third party. Rather than have your data stored and software installed locally on your computer, they are located on a server you can access over the internet.
Examples of cloud computing
However we define cloud computing, there’s no doubt it’s easier to understand concepts by using simple, real examples. If you’re like most people, you probably use cloud computing in some way every day without realizing it. Some of the most common tasks we carry out daily (like using software or storage) rely on cloud computing. Examples of cloud computing include:
- Google Docs, Microsoft Office 365: When you access Google Docs and Microsoft Office 365 through the internet, you use cloud computing since there is no need to install anything on your computer. You can access documents, presentations, and spreadsheets stored online from any device and anywhere in the world.
- Email and WhatsApp: People send billions of emails and WhatsApp messages every day. They can access the data remotely whenever and wherever they want. None of these would be possible without cloud computing.
- Netflix: Another tangible example of cloud computing is Netflix. This cloud-based software platform allows users to stream videos and provide almost instantaneous video downloads to its customers.
Other cloud computing apps you’re probably using on your computer or mobile devices include Google Drive, iCloud, OneDrive, DropBox, Slack, Zoom Meeting, etc. All these apps rely on cloud computing to work seamlessly.
Use Cases of Cloud Computing
With regards to what’s possible today with cloud computing services, here are some uses of the technology:
- Create native applications
- Test and build applications
- Store, backup, and recover data
- Analyze big data
- Stream audio and video
- Embed intelligence etc.
Characteristics of cloud computing
Now that we have explained what cloud computing is, we can list the main attributes of the technology. Many people think it is essentially the same as downloading files or regular internet, but it’s not. Here are five defining characteristics of cloud computing:
- On-demand self-service: Users can access cloud computing services by their means when they want to without any assistance from the service provider.
- Broad network access: Users can access cloud computing services via any of the users’ preferred tools like laptops, desktops, and smartphones with internet connectivity.
- Resource pooling: Cloud computing resources such as storage, memory, processing, and network bandwidth are pooled and assigned to multiple users based on demand.
- Elasticity: Resources can be allocated quickly to accommodate significant increases and decreases in demand without service interruption or quality degradation.
- Metering: Following the utility model, cloud computing services can be measured and metered so usage can be tracked by both the service provider and the user.
Types of cloud computing services
Cloud computing is not a single piece of technology like a microchip. Rather, it is a bundle of solutions that come in four different service models. These services are sometimes referred to as the ‘cloud computing stack’ because they build on another.
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Also known as Hardware as a Service (HaaS), this service model offers storage and computing services on a pay-as-you-go basis. With IaaS, you rent IT infrastructure like servers and virtual machines, storage, networks, and operating services while you’re responsible for managing your apps, data, middleware, etc. The service providers are in charge of housing, backup, maintenance, and business steadiness.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): With PaaS, developers can access all the tools needed to create a digital platform and make it available to the public. This service aims to make it easier for developers to quickly create web or mobile apps with minimal costs and no burden of managing the platform. The service provider makes sure that the apps run stable no matter how many times they are used.
- Serverless computing: Also called simply serverless and Function as a Service (FaaS), this computing model focuses on building app functionality while offloading all the backend infrastructure management tasks like provisioning, scaling, scheduling, and patching to the cloud provider. That way, you can run your code without having to manage servers, thus its name physically.
- Software as a Service (SaaS): This type of cloud computing service delivers apps over the internet, so organizations don’t have to worry about maintaining and managing the infrastructure. The service provider is responsible for the setup, capacity planning, server management, software licensing, installation, and support to be readily available to the end-users.
Cloud computing deployment types
When it comes to deploying cloud services, there are three main options to choose from. Each deployment type has its pros and cons, allowing you to choose the solution that meets your organization’s needs.
1. Public cloud
This deployment model operates through a third party that delivers the cloud service over the internet. All the benefits and supporting infrastructure may be free in this model, or access may be sold according to the subscription-based or pay-per-usage pricing models.
The most notable characteristic of a public cloud is that it uses a multi-tenant architecture. Large amounts of computing services and infrastructure are shared between many customers. Merits of a public cloud allow for increased efficiency while decreasing costs since the resources are shared between users.
However, this deployment model is considered unsafe for handling private and sensitive data. Plus, users have no control of data or infrastructure on the cloud.
A private cloud is used exclusively by organizations concerned about sharing resources on a public cloud. As a result, cloud computing services, infrastructure, and networking are operated solely by the organization and are not shared by anyone outside the company.
Organizations can decide whether the data center should be located in-house or whether third-party service providers should host the cloud services for them. Either way, this model is great because it offers maximum security control and customization. However, it is expensive to operate.
3. Hybrid cloud
As assumed, this model combines features of both private and public clouds. It involves the creation of parallel environments in which applications and data can move easily between private and public clouds, thus offering greater flexibility and security compliance. It also eliminates reliance on a single cloud provider and allows for increased control. Thus, the hybrid cloud provides the best of both worlds.
Advantages of cloud computing
Cloud computing offers a lot of advantages that an enterprise can expect to achieve upon adoption. Here are some of them.
Perhaps, the biggest benefit of cloud computing is that it can help organizations cut down on costs. With any form of cloud computing, a company doesn’t have to invest in expensive hardware or buy expensive software licenses since the cloud provider is responsible for these expenses. The company only pays for the resources and services it uses via the pay-as-you-go model. This is particularly beneficial to businesses with the capital to build or manage their own IT infrastructure.
The cloud brings a level of portability unheard of with traditional IT delivery. By moving your data and infrastructure to the cloud, you can access them from anywhere in the world and from any device with internet connectivity. In effect, this means access to your data and apps is just a click away. This allows for collaboration between remote teams and those in the office and improved efficiency with workflows.
Another attraction to cloud computing is that it offers a high level of security. Cloud service providers typically have a set of security protocols in place to guard against unauthorized access. Additionally, all data is encrypted so it cannot be tampered with, and users are provided with sophisticated tools for data protection. Thus, your data will be kept safe from any potential threats.
Cloud computing can be highly beneficial to businesses looking to expand with minimal costs. With the cloud, businesses looking to expand don’t have to worry about purchasing hardware or software to build data centers as they can instantly upscale or downscale the number of computing resources they need.
5. Speed and performance
Technology might be imperfect, but cloud computing allows for a reliable performance with minimal downtime and service interruptions. Plus, the services are frequently upgraded and updated to the latest version for speed and efficiency. In terms of speed, the cloud is suitable for businesses that need more flexibility and better timeline streaming as the services can be accessed almost instantly when needed.
Cloud computing takes the burden of running and maintaining IT infrastructure onsite off your organization, giving your IT team more time to focus on ensuring your systems are up and running. Even more, cloud computing minimizes the risk of downtime, so your business doesn’t suffer losses or reputation damage. Business continuity will be strengthened with the right cloud solution, and the risk of disruptions will be greatly decreased.
Disadvantages of cloud computing
Despite its many advantages, cloud computing has a few shortcomings. As stated earlier, no technology is perfect, and that includes cloud computing. Here are some of its disadvantages:
- Internet connection: Perhaps, the biggest disadvantage of cloud computing is its reliance on an internet connection. If, for any reason, there is a drop in internet connection, it can affect access to data, apps, and infrastructure stored on the cloud.
- Security: One of the biggest concerns about cloud computing is the security of sensitive data. Cloud service providers use encryption to protect data on the cloud, but the data disappears if that encryption key is lost.
- Control: Third parties’ cloud computing services leave organizations with lesser control since they can only have access to the front-end management tooling for apps, services, and data but not the back-end infrastructure.
Leading cloud computing companies
There are several top players in the cloud computing industry, but we will focus on public cloud service providers for this guide. Here are the three biggest cloud computing companies to know:
First launched in 2006, this e-commerce giant is a force to be reckoned with in the cloud computing sphere. It offers an extensive list of services and boasts the largest market share in more than 240 countries.
Microsoft Azure is one of the biggest cloud computing service providers at the moment, providing customers with a large offering of cloud products numbering more than 200. Microsoft is ranked the second-largest service provider, with its beginning dating back to 2010 and presence in 140 countries.
Google Cloud Platform became public in 2011 and is a strong competitor in the industry. Its various services reside on the same cloud space, home to some of its proprietary services like Google Search, YouTube, and Gmail.
Many businesses rely on it to implement new technologies, store data, and boost productivity – all at the touch of a button. Ultimately, cloud computing is the way of the future as it has continued to gobble more of the services that power businesses. There might still be some learning curves to tackle, but more and more businesses will continue to leverage the technology for growth and profitability.
If you want to enjoy the cost-saving, scalability, flexibility, and minimal downtime advantages that cloud computing offers, then you should opt for our services. At DC Encompass, we offer professional and end-to-end cloud services for small and large-scale businesses. All of our solutions are tailored to meet your business needs.