Understanding Cloud Computing

Companies are seizing on Cloud as the key enabler to complete their digital transformation, and the COVID pandemic has further accelerated this mandate. Cloud is becoming a top C-suite agenda item as businesses are transitioning from a piece-meal approach to a more holistic end-to-end digital transformation with Cloud at its core. The winners of tomorrow will be the ones that navigate this change rapidly, make the right choices and engage with the appropriate partners to augment their own capabilities.

What is Cloud Computing and How Does It Work?

When the internet was in its infancy the word ‘cloud’ was used as a metaphor to describe how the complex telephone networks connected. Now, many people and organizations refer to it as ‘THE cloud’ but it’s not a single entity, and it doesn’t exist in just the one place. So, what exactly is it?

A simple definition of cloud computing involves delivering different types of services over the Internet. From software and analytics to secure and safe data storage and networking resources, everything can be delivered via the cloud.

Cloud is a model of computing where servers, networks, storage, development tools, and even applications (apps) are enabled through the internet. Instead of organizations having to make major investments to buy equipment, train staff, and provide ongoing maintenance, some or all of these needs are handled by a cloud service provider.

You probably use different cloud-based applications every day. You are benefiting from cloud solutions every time you send a file to your colleague via the web, use a mobile app, download an image, binge a Netflix show, or play an online video game. All these services are stored in the cloud and exist in some digital space.

For businesses, cloud computing means improved collaboration and productivity, as well as significant cost reductions. It means better data protection, improved availability, and expanded access to cutting-edge technologies.

Characteristics of cloud

On-demand self-service: A consumer can unilaterally provision computing capabilities, such as server time and network storage, as needed automatically without requiring human interaction with each service provider.

Broad network access: Capabilities are available over the network and accessed through standard mechanisms that promote use by heterogeneous thin or thick client platforms (e.g., mobile phones, tablets, laptops and workstations).

Resource pooling: The provider’s computing resources are pooled to serve multiple consumers using a multi-tenant model, with different physical and virtual resources dynamically assigned and reassigned according to consumer demand. There is a sense of location independence in that the customer generally has no control or knowledge over the exact location of the provided resources but may be able to specify location at a higher level of abstraction (e.g., country, state or datacenter). Examples of resources include storage, processing, memory and network bandwidth.

Rapid elasticity: Capabilities can be elastically provisioned and released, in some cases automatically, to scale rapidly outward and inward commensurate with demand. To the consumer, the capabilities available for provisioning often appear to be unlimited and can be appropriated in any quantity at any time.

Measured service: Cloud systems automatically control and optimize resource use by leveraging a metering capability at some level of abstraction appropriate to the type of service (e.g., storage, processing, bandwidth and active user accounts). Resource usage can be monitored, controlled and reported, providing transparency for the provider and consumer.

Types of Cloud Computing

Public Cloud

Public cloud services are best for development systems and web servers. Your cloud computing provider will give you a slice of their digital space that they must share with other tenants.

These types of clouds are cost-efficient since a pay-as-you-go model operates most. You pay for the number of hours you need to use the cloud and can exit whenever you complete your work. There are no obligations that require you to pay more than you need.

Private Cloud

Private clouds offer what their name suggests: privacy. You do not have to share your digital space with anyone else. Private cloud platforms are typically built in-house, and they belong to you and your business. They can also be configured in a  third-party data center and still provide an advanced level of privacy.

Larger organizations and clients who are concerned about security favor private clouds. The reason for this is primarily the fact that these clouds offer more defense than their public counterparts. Companies that need to protect sensitive information like customer data rely on private clouds.

If you are using a private cloud, you know who has access to the data, know if anyone made changes, and know what to do in case of an emergency. You have full control over what happens to the cloud and don’t have to worry about some third party vendor making changes that would negatively affect you. A firewall protects everything in your cloud from outsiders.

Hybrid Clouds

Hybrid clouds are the best of both worlds. If you are using a hybrid cloud, you can control an internal database and use the public cloud when needed. There might be times when you will need to move data and applications from the private cloud to the public cloud, such as scheduled maintenance, blackouts, and natural disasters. The ability to seamlessly migrate information is perfect for cloud-based disaster recovery and preventing data loss.

The flexibility of hybrid clouds is excellent for scaling as any overflow can regulate in the public cloud. Furthermore, you can keep all non-sensitive tasks in the public cloud while safeguarding the essential data in the private cloud.

Types of Cloud Services

Cloud services are as varied as the types of clouds themselves. You can purchase three different kinds of cloud services:

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) saves you money on buying physical data centers or servers. You pay as you go and only pay for as long as you need or use the service. IaaS allows you to adjust your scale depending on your demand quickly.

Platform as a service (PaaS) has everything you need for your business applications. It comes complete with infrastructures such as networking, online storage, and servers, as well as database management systems, development tools, and more. PaaS is designed to help create, test, develop, and update your application.

Software as a service (SaaS) is what you get whenever you download a new app for your phone. Companies create and develop their software and then lend it out to buyers. Businesses such as Autodesk, Lending Club, Microsoft, and IBM all generate revenue from SaaS

Benefits of Cloud Computing

1. Cost optimization and no initial investment
One of the greatest benefit of Cloud Computing is cost saving. The Cloud allows to use resources, networking and security solutions without infrastructure cost or high initial investments. You can avoid to purchase hardware like storage, switch, hypervisor, backup software programs and more, because all the infrastructure elements are provided by the Cloud vendor.
2. Availability
Cloud resources are available just in time! They can be activated in a few minutes and the infrastructure is available remotely from any place and at any moment. For instance, do you need to deploy a new application or to activate a development environment rapidly? Well, you got it!
3. Productivity
Thanks to Cloud Computing you can optimize costs but also resources, by maximizing the system productivity and effectiveness. Indeed, Cloud enables to reach the highest price-service ratio, even when business needs change.
4. Pay-per-use model
The use of Cloud Computing has a good effect on costs also because of the pay-per-use billing model. With that model, you pay only the resources actually used, resulting in a great cost saving.
5. High-scalability
Cloud allows to avoid dangerous downtimes by offering the highest scalability possible during traffic peaks or fast increase/decrease of computing resources.
6. System security
Cloud infrastructure are designed to ensure to customers the maximum security, by using the latest technologies and tools to protect business data and systems. Security measures include:
– Data Center security
– Backup and Disaster Recovery
– Log & Identity Management
– Management and prevention of threats
7. IT outsourcing
Cloud Computing is the ideal tool to rethink the business structure by giving in outsourcing IT processes. This way the company is free to focus on the growth of its core business, without worrying about infrastructural aspects.
8. Applications
Cloud Computing allows to develop new application solutions thanks to the strong automation of IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and the As-a-Service solutions in general. The use of API and turn-key solutions cut down costs and allows to get unparalleled performances and scalability.

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