What is Cloud Computing?

A few years ago, the basic premise of the cloud was mocked by reducing it to the idea of “someone else’s PC,” a phrase that now adorns the coffee cups of many IT workers. Larry Ellison, CTO of Oracle, was likewise cautious, claiming that “we’ve redefined cloud computing to cover everything that we already do.”

However, in its most basic form, cloud computing is defined as follows:

A decentralized digital infrastructure resource that provides hosted services across the internet.

And, while there are several ways to describe cloud computing, it ultimately boils down to five important aspects:

  • Networking

Cloud Service Types

The cloud computing service sector has grown into a multibillion-dollar business that is rapidly expanding. To put this in context, Gartner predicts that cloud spending will exceed $260 billion by the end of 2018. And Gartner is not alone in emphasizing cloud computing’s rising market dominance.

Wikibon expects that the enterprise cloud will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19 percent from 2016 to 2026 in their Cloud Vendor Revenue Projection Project, 2017. Traditional infrastructure, on-premise software, and legacy business process outsourcing approaches, on the other hand, will see a negative 3 percent CAGR.

The dynamic consequences of cloud adoption are already seen, most notably in the three broad and typical forms of cloud computing services:

software-as-a-service (SaaS), infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), and platform-as-a-service (PaaS).

Another distinguishing feature of the cloud is that the processing, storage, networking, and integration capabilities of each SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS product are essentially owned by the vendor and supplied as a service to the user on an on-demand, subscription basis.

These three categories are meant to be stacked on top of one another, which means they may operate individually or in tandem. Consider a three-tiered pyramid, with SaaS on top serving end users, PaaS in the center supporting developers and meeting integration needs, and IaaS at the bottom serving system administrators.

1: SaaS (Software-as-a-Service)

SaaS, sometimes known as “on-demand software,” is the most widely used cloud computing service for corporate clients. SaaS is replacing or supplementing traditional enterprise systems such as ERP, accounting, human resources management, content management systems, supply chain, and inventory management, and customer relationship management (CRM) programs, among others, with a wide range of application and service types. Because SaaS does not necessitate the purchase of costly licensed software, customers can use a variety of cloud apps on an as-needed basis. The typical organization has 16 SaaS apps installed, a 33 percent increase over the previous year, according to the 2017 State of the SaaS-Powered Workplace Report. Read our top SaaS FAQ compilation for more information about SaaS.

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

Think of PaaS as the cloud service’s intermediary, between SaaS and IaaS. This cloud service gives users all of the tools they need to build a digital platform. It provides the foundation for storage, networking, and virtual servers, as well as the software and hardware required for designing, developing, testing, implementing, managing, and operating applications while integrating, analyzing, and sharing data.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

The IaaS layer provides basic building elements as well as database storage and a virtual platform. The sophisticated and expensive hardware is outsourced to a third-party cloud vendor by developing cost-effective and scalable IT solutions. All of these IT components are automated for clients who can self-provision IaaS platform storage or processing power. The vendors are also responsible for ongoing maintenance, including system upkeep, backing up data, and business steadiness.

Cloud Deployment Types

How a company manages and secures its business assets and demands may be seen in how it delivers its cloud service. However, cloud adoption is more than a “private cloud vs public cloud” discussion. The development of hybrid cloud deployment has brought a new dimension.

1. The Public Cloud

A third-party IaaS cloud provider manages a public cloud. The internet is used to distribute servers, storage, and other digital resources. Because the provider bears all infrastructure and bandwidth expenses, all a consumer needs to access service and manage accounts is a web browser.

Pros: Reliable service, cost-effective due to economies of scale, no maintenance, scalability that is elastic

Cons: Often judged dangerous for handling extremely private and sensitive data; must adhere to stringent security protocols.

2. Personal Cloud

In a private cloud, cloud computing services, infrastructure, and networking are managed by a single entity that is not connected to other businesses or public platforms. A company’s data center can be physically housed in-house to maintain a private cloud, or a third-party vendor is paid to host everything in a private instance.

Advantages: more control, customization, scalability, flexibility, and security

Cons: More costly and requires more care (if kept on-site)

3. Cloud Hybrid

A hybrid cloud deployment, as the name implies, is a combination of private and public clouds. This infrastructure enables the interchangeability of data, information, and apps. The private side can handle sensitive activities like money and data recovery, whilst the public side can handle high-volume operations.

  • Pros: Enhanced agility, accessibility, security

Examples of Cloud Computing

In this day and age, it’s nearly difficult to avoid being affected by the cloud. Cloud computing is used in some of the most ordinary (and even monotonous) daily chores. Here are a few simple examples:

  • Email is used for both personal and professional purposes. However, this standardized communication technique has completely transitioned from a downloaded and stored manner to a cloud-based way. That applies to all devices, from desktop computers to smartphones.

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