Cloud computing helps people and organizations securely access data and applications anywhere, anytime; but what is ‘the Cloud’?
Cloud is like one global, massive hard drive that everyone can connect to via the internet. It is always there; it is dependable, and it can be securely accessed anytime, anywhere, by anyone. Most of us use cloud services every day in our personal lives to sync and share photos, listen to music and read our favourite books or magazines.
Thinking about cloud as a giant hard drive is easy to visualize, but cloud computing is a collection of servers, networks, tools, storage, services and applications powered by the internet. Instead of investing capital to build and own technology infrastructure to manage data, software and applications, cloud computing allows you to pay only for what you use; this reduces and optimizes operational costs. Cloud environments are also on-demand and elastic, so you can set up services quickly and scale up or down, depending on your organization’s needs.
Cloud can be deployed via public, private, hybrid or multi-cloud models, and organizations can opt for different service models, including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS).
Public cloud is a shared platform for storage or computational service, accessible to anyone, via the internet, and each customer's information is secure and isolated; a private cloud offers computational and storage services too, but it is dedicated to a particular enterprise; a hybrid environment uses a combination of public and private cloud models; a multi-cloud strategy typically uses multiple public clouds and possibly multiple private clouds to eliminate the reliance on any single cloud provider.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service offers storage and network compute capabilities via the internet. Users don’t own these workloads, they pay only for what they use, and they can increase or decrease their usage based on current needs. So, it is cost efficient and flexible. IaaS has been around for more than a decade and is getting more sophisticated with new technologies and service models like containers, microservices and serverless models.
Platform-as-a-Service allows users to develop applications quickly,and run and manage them, without the complexity and cost of owning these platforms. Users can choose how they manage and pay for these services. PaaS gives organizations the ability to build, test and deploy applications swiftly.
Software-as-a-Service is the use of application software, like Microsoft 365, Salesforce, Slack, Dropbox etc. via the internet. In this cloud computing model, organizations don’t own the software, rather they pay for their use via a subscription model. This model allows organizations to use software without the complexity and cost of setting up the infrastructure or running and managing it.
Cloud computing was initially used to create cost efficiencies and ease of data storage. Today, organizations are realizing its true benefits of flexibility and allowing organizations to innovate quickly to respond to rapid changes in customer expectations. Cloud also enables organizations to take advantage of data analytics, artificial intelligence and other emerging innovations to improve experiences and drive strategic value.
When should you consider cloud computing?