Cloud computing is the delivery and on-demand availability of computing resources (e.g., servers, network, and storage) over the internet without requiring direct active management by the customer. Cloud computing can also be described as data centers that are distributed over multiple locations from central servers and are available to many users. When cloud resources are located close to the end user, it may be defined as an edge computing.
Cloud Computing Models
- Enterprise cloud/private cloud. A private network used by a single organization that also maintains the infrastructure. Some organizations pay third-party providers to host their private cloud.
- Public cloud. Owned and operated by third-party providers such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services who maintain all the hardware, software, and other infrastructure. End users can access services and manage their account via a web browser.
- Hybrid cloud. A combination of public and enterprise cloud in which data and applications can be shared between them, allowing for greater flexibility, more deployment options, improved efficiency of infrastructure resource utilization, and enhanced security and compliance.
Top Benefits of Cloud Computing
- Reduced costs. Organizations benefit from cloud providers’ economies of scale and do not have to manage their own infrastructure such as deploying and maintaining IT equipment or managing power, space, and cooling.
- Scalability. Cloud providers can deliver more or less resources as needed to meet demand.
- Improved performance. The largest cloud computing services offer a vast network of highly efficient and state-of-the-art data centers.
- Enhanced security. Cloud service providers have policies and technologies in place to help protect customers’ data, applications, and infrastructure from security threats.
- Increased deployment speed. Due to the on-demand availability of cloud computing services, organizations can provision computing resources in moments, allowing them to focus on the business instead of capacity planning or other data center management concerns.
- Boosted productivity. IT teams can focus on business goals rather than time-consuming “racking and stacking” tasks.
- Improved reliability. Data backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity are all easier and more affordable with cloud providers because data is mirrored at multiple redundant sites.
Types of Cloud Services
- Infrastructure as a service (IaaS). The end user rents IT infrastructure such as servers, storage, network, virtual machines (VMs), and operating systems from a cloud provider on a pay-as-you-go basis.
- Platform as a service (PaaS). Developers test, deliver, and manage software applications in an on-demand environment without needing to manage the underlying hardware and software layers needed for development.
- Serverless computing. Similar to PaaS, but end users have less control over the deployment environment, applications scale automatically, and application code only executes when invoked.
- Software as a service (Saas). Software applications are delivered over the internet, typically on a subscription basis. Users can connect to the application with a web browser via desktop, tablet, or mobile.
Key Use Cases of Cloud Computing
- Cloud-native applications. Developers can quickly build, test, deploy, and scale applications by leveraging cloud-native technologies and methodologies such as container, Kubernetes, APIs, and DevOps.
- Data storage, backup, and recovery. Data can be protected and accessible from any location or device.
- Content streaming. Audio and video can be distributed globally.
- On-demand software. SaaS organizations can offer the latest versions of their software for customers to download anytime, where.
- Data analysis. Data can be unified across teams, divisions, and locations in the cloud, where machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) can provide key insights for more informed decision making.
- Embedded intelligence. A product, process, or service can analyze its own performance and environment to improve quality and ensure customer satisfaction.