What is Cloud Computing?
Simply put, 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. You typically pay only for cloud services you use, helping lower your operating costs, run your infrastructure more efficiently and scale as your business needs change.
Cloud computing is a general term for anything that involves delivering hosted services over the internet. These services are divided into three main categories: infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS).
A cloud can be private or public. A public cloud sells services to anyone on the internet. A private cloud is a proprietary network or a data center that supplies hosted services to a limited number of people, with certain access and permissions settings. Private or public, the goal of cloud computing is to provide easy, scalable access to computing resources and IT services.
What cloud computing services are available?
Cloud computing services cover a vast range of options now, from the basics of storage, networking, and processing power through to natural language processing and artificial intelligence as well as standard office applications. Pretty much any service that doesn’t require you to be physically close to the computer hardware that you are using can now be delivered via the cloud.
Why is it called cloud computing?
A fundamental concept behind cloud computing is that the location of the service, and many of the details such as the hardware or operating system on which it is running, are largely irrelevant to the user. It’s with this in mind that the metaphor of the cloud was borrowed from old telecoms network schematics, in which the public telephone network (and later the internet) was often represented as a cloud to denote that the just didn’t matter — it was just a cloud of stuff.
How does cloud computing work?
Cloud computing is possible because of a technology called “virtualization.” Virtualization allows for the creation of a simulated, digital-only “virtual” computer that behaves as if it were a physical computer with its own hardware. The technical term for such a computer is virtual machine. Cloud computing works by allowing client devices to access data over the internet, from remote servers, databases and computers.
An internet network connection links the front end (includes the accessing client device, browser, network and cloud software applications) with the back end, which consists of databases, servers and computers). The back end functions as a repository, storing data that is accessed by the front end.
Communications between the front and back ends are managed by a central server. The central server relies on protocols to facilitate the exchange of data. The central server uses both software and middleware to manage connectivity between different client devices and cloud servers. Typically, there will be a dedicated server for each individual application.
Types of Cloud Computing
The three main types of cloud computing include Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Software as a Service. Each type of cloud computing provides different levels of control, flexibility, and management so that you can select the right set of services for your needs.
Cloud Computing is divided into three categories based on deployment, including:
• Public cloud
• Private cloud
• Hybrid cloud
The remaining three categories are divided based on the services they offer, including:
• Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
• Platform as a Service (PaaS)
• Software as a Service (SaaS)
Cloud computing vendors
The cloud service market has no shortage of providers. The three largest public cloud service providers, who have established themselves as dominant fixtures in the industry, are:
• Amazon Web Services (AWS)
• Google Cloud Platform
• Microsoft Azure
Other major cloud service providers include:
• Oracle Cloud
Cloud computing provides advanced computing resources available on-demand, that scale as needed, with regular updates and without the need to buy and maintain an on-premise infrastructure. With cloud computing, teams become more efficient and reduce time to market as they can rapidly acquire, scale services, without the considerable effort that requires managing a traditional on-premise infrastructure.
Most organizations and businesses are finding ways to migrate to the cloud for better storage opportunities, scalability, and various other services that the cloud offers. Even with all of this, the cloud journey for many organizations has just begun, and the future with cloud services looks very bright with endless opportunities to explore.