Cloud Computing is the delivery of computing services including servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence over the Internet (“the cloud”) to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale.
Cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of IT resources over the Internet with pay-as-you-go pricing. Instead of buying, owning, and maintaining physical data centers and servers, you can access technology services, such as computing power, storage, and databases, on an as-needed basis from a cloud provider like Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Rather than keeping files on a proprietary hard drive or local storage device, cloud-based storage makes it possible to save them to a remote database. As long as an electronic device has access to the web, it has access to the data and the software programs to run it.
Cloud computing is a popular option for people and businesses for a number of reasons including cost savings, increased productivity, speed and efficiency, performance, and security.
Compared to traditional on-premises IT, and depending on the cloud services you select, cloud computing helps do the following:
Lower IT costs: Cloud lets you offload some or most of the costs and effort of purchasing, installing, configuring, and managing your own on-premises infrastructure.
Improve agility and time-to-value: With cloud, your organization can start using enterprise applications in minutes, instead of waiting weeks or months for IT to respond to a request, purchase and configure supporting hardware, and install software. Cloud also lets you empower certain users specifically developers and data scientists to help themselves to software and support infrastructure.
Scale more easily and cost-effectively: Cloud provides elasticity instead of purchasing excess capacity that sits unused during slow periods, you can scale capacity up and down in response to spikes and dips in traffic. You can also take advantage of your cloud provider’s global network to spread your applications closer to users around the world.
The term ‘cloud computing’ also refers to the technology that makes cloud work. This includes some form of virtualized IT infrastructure servers, operating system software, networking, and other infrastructure that’s abstracted, using special software, so that it can be pooled and divided irrespective of physical hardware boundaries. For example, a single hardware server can be divided into multiple virtual servers.
Virtualization enables cloud providers to make maximum use of their data center resources. Not surprisingly, many corporations have adopted the cloud delivery model for their on-premises infrastructure so they can realize maximum utilization and cost savings vs. traditional IT infrastructure and offer the same self-service and agility to their end-users.
If you use a computer or mobile device at home or at work, you almost certainly use some form of cloud computing every day, whether it’s a cloud application like Google Gmail or Salesforce, streaming media like Netflix, or cloud file storage like Dropbox.
Cloud computing has two meanings. The most common refers to running workloads remotely over the internet in a commercial provider’s data center, also known as the “public cloud” model. Popular public cloud offerings such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Salesforce’s CRM system, and Microsoft Azure all exemplify this familiar notion of cloud computing. Today, most businesses take a multicloud approach, which simply means they use more than one public cloud service.
The second meaning of cloud computing describes how it works: a virtualized pool of resources, from raw compute power to application functionality, available on demand. When customers procure cloud services, the provider fulfills those requests using advanced automation rather than manual provisioning. The key advantage is agility: the ability to apply abstracted compute, storage, and network resources to workloads as needed and tap into an abundance of prebuilt services.
Cloud computing underpins a vast number of services. That includes consumer services like Gmail or the cloud back-up of the photos on your smartphone, though to the services which allow large enterprises to host all their data and run all of their applications in the cloud. Netflix relies on cloud computing services to run its its video streaming service and its other business systems too, and have a number of other organisations.
Cloud computing is becoming the default option for many apps: software vendors are increasingly offering their applications as services over the internet rather than standalone products as they try to switch to a subscription model.
However, there is a potential downside to cloud computing, in that it can also introduce new costs and new risks for companies using it.
Cloud companies, sometimes referred to as Cloud Service Providers (CSPs), are companies that offer services or applications on the cloud. These cloud companies essentially host tools and data centers that allow customers to retrieve and utilize information in a flexible, manageable and cost-effective manner. Through cloud companies, customers can easily access their cloud-based data via any network connection.
Cloud computing services are broken down into three major categories: software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS).
SaaS is the most common cloud service type. Many of us use it on a daily basis. The SaaS model makes software accessible through an app or web browser. Some SaaS programs are free, but many require a monthly or annual subscription to maintain the service. Requiring no hardware installation or management, SaaS solutions are a big hit in the business world. Notable examples include Salesforce, Dropbox or Google Docs.
PaaS is a cloud environment supporting web application development and deployment. PaaS supports the full lifecycle of applications, helping users build, test, deploy, manage and update all in one place. The service also includes development tools, middleware and business intelligence solutions. Notable examples include Windows Azure, AWS Elastic Beanstalk and Google App Engine.
IaaS provides users with basic computer infrastructure capabilities like data storage, servers and hardware all in the cloud. IaaS gives businesses access to large platforms and applications without the need for large onsite physical infrastructures. Notable examples of IaaS include DigitalOcean, Amazon EC2 and Google Compute Engine.