The term Cloud Computing may sound familiar in this digital age, but if you’re new to this, not everyone fully grasps its essentials and characteristics. With the Internet revolutionizing most of our daily lives, it has been a driving force towards various technologies that have been developed, including cloud computing.
To start off with, what exactly is the cloud?
“The cloud” is a metaphor that refers to the delivery of computing services — including servers, data storage, networks, databases, analytics, intelligence, and software — over the Internet (hence “the cloud”) to facilitate faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale.
Before cloud computing, companies typically buy stacks of servers and hard drives to host their website in order to keep it running and monitor the traffic. The downside of this is that the setup of these servers can be expensive, troubleshooting problems can be tedious and may conflict with the business goals, bigger data storage is needed once the company grows, and since website traffic is varying, the servers will be idle most of the time.
Rather than companies having to make significant investments in managing physical servers or data centers, train staff, and provide continuous maintenance, some or all of these needs are managed by a cloud service provider that handles the cloud computing efforts.
How does cloud computing work, then?
For cloud service providers, the two most common services that they offer include:
- Compute power — comprises three compute options
- Virtual Machine: Cloud computing is possible due to a technology called virtualization as it allows the creation of an emulation that is remotely accessed through your computers. With virtual machines, there is no need to buy any hardware or install the operating system.
- Containers: Similar to a virtual machine, however, containers do not require an operating system. Containers are already a package of applications and store their dependencies that later execute the application.
- Serverless Computing: Breaks cloud applications down into even smaller components that only run when they’re needed.
- Cloud service providers take care of all your data storing needs.
- Cloud storage is scalable.
- If more storage is needed at a given time, you can simply pay more to expand the storage capacity.
Benefits of Cloud Computing for Businesses
Cloud service providers enable businesses to rent access to anything from applications to storage, instead of having businesses possess their own computing infrastructure or data centers. It’s important for businesses to shift their traditional IT resources to cloud computing services due to the benefits it offers for sustainability, namely:
- Cost-effective: cloud computing provides a pay-as-you-go model, which means that you only have to pay for the resources that you use.
- Scalable: Companies can increase or decrease the resources and services at any given time according to their needs, both vertically (adding resources to increase the power of an existing server) or horizontally (adding more servers that function together as one unit).
- Reliable: Cloud computing authorizes businesses to have data backup, disaster recovery, and data replication services.
- Security: Cloud service providers strictly implement policies, controls, and technologies that strengthen data, apps, and infrastructure protection from threats.
- Elastic: Through automatic adding or removing resources, the cloud computing system will adjust for workload changes due to its high or low demand.
Types of Cloud Computing: Cloud Deployment Models
Clouds are established in different models, types, and services that help companies offer the right solution depending on what the business need. The first thing to consider when determining the type of cloud deployment or cloud computing architecture that is going to be implemented in the cloud services is the three different ways to deploy cloud services: on a public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud.
- Public Cloud: A service run by a third-party cloud service provider that may include servers in one or multiple data centers. Using virtual machines, individual servers are shared by multiple organizations. Major hypescalers for the public cloud include Microsoft (Azure), Amazon (Amazon Web Services or AWS), Alibaba (Alicloud), and Google (Google Cloud).
- Private Cloud: Refers to a cloud environment in a data center that is dedicated exclusively to companies or organizations who are concerned with sharing their resources to the public cloud. Private clouds are implemented on the servers owned, managed, and accessible by the company through the Internet or private internal network.
- Hybrid Cloud: Combines the public and private cloud. Hybrid cloud facilitates companies greater flexibility, more deployment options, and helps optimize your existing infrastructure, security, and compliance.
Types of Cloud Computing: Cloud Service Categories
After considering the deployment model for the company’s cloud environment, most cloud computing services fall into four broad categories: infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS). Often they are called the “stack” cloud computing because of how they build on top of one another. It is more convenient to achieve your business goals by knowing what they are.
- Infrastructure as a service (IaaS): IaaS is the simplest option for businesses. Businesses migrate their hardware by rents the infrastructure and storage they need from the cloud vendor and then use that cloud infrastructure to build their application instead of purchasing and maintaining its own infrastructure. Example: Digital Ocean.
- Platform as a service (PaaS): For businesses that want to build unique apps without significant financial investments through vendors in terms of building your applications like development tools, infrastructure, operating systems, PaaS is a popular choice. Example: Microsoft Azure, Heroku, Google App Engine.
- Function as a service (FaaS): Overlapping with PaaS, FaaS is also known as the serverless computer. The main idea of FaaS focuses on building app functionality so that it doesn’t continually spend time managing the servers and infrastructure. It breaks down the application into separate functions that run when triggered by some action.
- Software as a service (SaaS): SaaS is the most frequently used cloud computing infrastructure which became the dominant way to access software applications for businesses. SaaS delivers its software applications over the Internet, on-demand, and applies a pay-as-you-go service. Example: Google Apps, Dropbox, Salesforce.