Cloud Computing is the delivery of computing services such as: servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics and lots more over the Internet. Companies offering these computing services are called cloud providers and typically charge for cloud computing services based on usage, similar to how you are billed for gas or electricity at home.
Why Choose Cloud Computing?
If you use an online service to send emails, edit documents, watch films or TV, listen to music, play games, or store pictures and other files; then it is more than likely you are using cloud computing without even realising. The first cloud computing services are barely a decade old, but already a variety of organisations – from tiny start-ups to global corporations, from government agencies to non-profits – are embracing the technology for all sorts of reasons.
Cloud Computing can be used for the following;
- Create new apps and services
- Store, back up and recover data
- Host websites and blogs
- Stream audio and video
- Deliver software on demand
- Analyse data for patterns and make predictions
How Cloud Computing Works
Cloud computing services all work a little differently, depending on the provider. But many provide a friendly, browser-based dashboard that makes it easier for IT professionals and developers to order resources and manage their accounts. Some cloud computing services are also designed to work with REST APIs and a command-line interface (CLI), giving developers multiple options.
Types of Cloud Services
There are three broad categories in which most cloud computing services can fall into: the IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. These can sometimes be called the cloud computing stack, as they build up on top of one another.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
The Infrastructure as a service is the most basic category of cloud computing services. With Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), you rent IT infrastructure – servers and virtual machines (VMs), storage, networks, operating systems – from a cloud provider on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Platform as a service (PaaS) refers to cloud computing services that supply an on-demand environment for developing, testing, delivering and managing software applications. PaaS is designed to make it easier for developers to quickly create web or mobile apps, without worrying about setting up or managing the underlying infrastructure of servers, storage, network and databases needed for development.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Software as a Service (SaaS) is a method for delivering software applications over the internet, on demand and typically on a subscription basis. With SaaS, cloud providers host and manage the software application and underlying infrastructure, and handle any maintenance, such as software upgrades and security patching.
The Benefits of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is a big shift from the traditional way businesses think about IT resources. Here are some reasons as to why organisations are turning to cloud computing services:
- Cost – Cloud Computing allows you to eliminate the capital expenses of buying hardware and software, and setting up and running on-site data centres – the racks of servers, the round-the-clock electricity for power and cooling, the IT experts for managing the infrastructure.
- Speed – Vast amounts of computing resources can be provisioned in minutes, typically with just a few mouse clicks, giving businesses a lot of flexibility and taking the pressure off capacity planning.
- Productivity – On-site data centres typically require a lot of hardware setup, software patching and other time-consuming IT management chores. Cloud computing removes the need for many of these tasks, so IT teams can spend time on achieving more important business goals.
- Performance – The biggest cloud computing services run on a worldwide network of secure data centres, which are regularly upgraded to the latest generation of fast and efficient computing hardware.
- Reliability – Cloud computing makes data backup, disaster recovery and business continuity easier and less expensive, because data can be mirrored at multiple redundant sites on the cloud provider’s network.