The last decade has seen a sharp increase in computer, mobile, and other device use. This has in turn led to an explosion of data that both large and small scale businesses are harnessing for insights to stay ahead of the competition. The generation of massive volumes of data every minute brought with it a unique challenge; data processing, storage, and analytics as most businesses lacked the capacity to process such amounts of data. This is where cloud computing comes in. cloud computing allows businesses to rent instead of incurring heavy capital investment in infrastructure which includes databases, software, hardware, and more. Businesses shifting their operations to the cloud will need an IT professional preferably with experience and cloud computing certification to facilitate the implementation of cloud solutions and run the cloud systems and software.
Big data requires advanced storage and analytics solutions that not all businesses can afford due to the high cost of infrastructure, operations, and maintenance involved. Thus, cloud computing not only presents a cheaper solution but also a level playing ground for smaller businesses to compete with larger more established ones. More than that, cloud computing is hailed for efficiency, speed, and easy scalability in data processing, storage, and analytics for streamlined business operations. It allows users to access their storage and computing services via the internet and pay only for the services that they have consumed. Also, cloud computing comes with amazing elasticity allowing businesses to quickly provision additional services and resources to adapt to workload changes.
Some commonly used cloud computing services include:
- Databases and storage
- Networking and servers
- Business intelligence
There are four types of clouds and three main types of cloud computing. Before discussing the types of cloud computing, let’s first understand the different types of clouds.
Types of Clouds
The four different cloud models that businesses and individuals can use based on their needs are:
In a private cloud, a business, end-user, or group secures a cloud environment with exclusive access. The business gets to own, control, and operate its cloud services. The business can host the infrastructure on its premises or the service provider on its data center. Private clouds are considered very secure since they are not distributed among many tenants.
However, trends are changing with businesses opting to rent the data centers of their providers to cut costs. This has introduced different types of private clouds such as managed private clouds and dedicated private clouds.
A community cloud is an emerging cloud model in which infrastructure is jointly owned and accessed by a group of organizations with common computing needs in terms of compliance, security, control, and location. The community decides where the cloud infrastructure will be hosted and the level of governance whether by the community, third-party, or both.
This model is widely adopted by government agencies, academic institutions, and multinational organizations that wish to customize very specific services to meet their requirements.
For the public cloud, resources are owned, governed, and maintained by the cloud service provider. The provider hosts the computing infrastructure in their premises while delivering services to users over the internet. This way, multiple tenants share the same cloud environment with each tenant utilizing only the services that it needs. This type of cloud is ideal for B2C (business to consumer) interactions. Good Examples of renowned cloud service providers are AWS (Amazon Web Services), GCP (Google Cloud service provider), Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud, and Alibaba Cloud.
Cloud service providers offer users the flexibility of scaling services up and down on-demand usually on a pay-as-you-go billing arrangement which makes it way cheaper particularly for startups and small businesses.
A hybrid cloud combines both worlds of private and public clouds. Typically, businesses that have subscribed to the hybrid cloud model will host mission-critical operations requiring high-level security and control on their private servers and then host other applications on the public cloud on the provider’s datacenter. Operations are separate yet connected to each other via a local area network (LAN), a virtual private network (VPN), a wide area network (WAN), or other APIs depending on the location and the application. The bottom line is that a business should be able to manage all its operations in one connected environment that integrates different clouds using an orchestration tool.
Different types of cloud computing
Now that we are well familiar with the different types of cloud models available to users, let’s look at the different types of cloud computing solutions. There are three main types of cloud computing:
SaaS (Software as a service)
Software as a service is a cloud service that delivers fully functioning software applications to end-users. SaaS applications are usually web-based applications that users can access through the internet by subscribing to on a pay-as-you-go billing arrangement. Access is typically through logging in using a username and password and navigating through an API or a dashboard. The service provider in turn hosts, maintains, and fully manages applications and their infrastructure on his server on behalf of the users.
Good examples of SaaS applications include:
- Office tools like Microsoft Office 365 and Google workspace
- CRM tools like Salesforce
However, SaaS is a basic cloud computing model that is easy to use as it does not require any installation. It is very easy to scale depending on workloads to support growing startups. Also, SaaS apps facilitate collaboration or group access to applications based on subscription. The customer does not have much control over the applications and must always have a network connection to access SaaS solutions.
IaaS (Infrastructure as a service)
IaaS is a fundamental cloud computing model that allows the service provider to manage the infrastructure including server space, networking components, bandwidth, data storage, hard drives, IP addresses, and other components that can support the user’s software. The user rents the infrastructure which is accessible through an API, dashboard, or other virtual interfaces, and is in control of other components including operating systems, middleware, and applications. Infrastructure maintenance, incident recovery, repairs, and other infrastructure-related issues are the responsibility of the provider.
This model is preferred by several businesses looking to cut IT infrastructure costs as it provides them the infrastructure to run their workloads and applications efficiently at an affordable cost. Users have the flexibility of installing, running, and maintaining the software they need to run their workloads on the cloud.
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PaaS (Platform as a service)
PaaS basically refers to the base environment or platform which is hosted on the cloud upon which users build their applications and services. PaaS services are mostly preferred by software developers, web developers, and businesses that build their own solutions. It provides the environment and fully functioning programming components that developers need to build and manage their web and mobile applications. PaaS services may include:
- Big data analytics tools
- Database management systems
- Content management systems
- IT security
The benefit of PaaS is that it allows users the flexibility of building their own infrastructure that they will use to develop the applications they require to run their operations.
Benefits of cloud computing
Cloud computing comes with immense benefits for businesses and individual users. One of the greatest advantages of cloud computing is the significant cost savings that users make while running their workloads. This is because businesses, by using cloud services, eliminate hefty investments associated with running and maintaining their own data centers and only get to rent what they need at a fraction of the cost and pay for the services that they consume. In addition, cloud computing provides speed, flexibility, and on-demand scalability which comes as a great convenience for streamlining business operations.