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An Introduction to Cloud Computing
What is Cloud Computing, and why it is so important to your company?
Simply stated, the “Cloud” is the internet.
Cloud Computing allows companies to use computer software over the internet. This is generally cheaper than having to buy, install, and maintain a computing infrastructure.
When we specifically look at Cloud Computing that companies use every day, it becomes an ever-expanding list that changes constantly. Furthermore, you are probably using Cloud services without even thinking about it, for example, Google docs.
Some benefits of Cloud Computing
There are many benefits that companies can utilize when using cloud technologies and services. A few of the many benefits include:
Companies can save money because they do not have to buy servers, storage, and network equipment, and other costs around maintaining a data center. When using cloud services you only pay for what you use. This allows companies to “right-size” from the start and only increase their costs as they increase their usage.
Speed / Productivity / Flexibility / Reliability
- IT servers and resources can be up and running in minutes (speed) versus weeks as in the case of doing it yourself.
- There is a great increase in productivity. Time is spent on configuring the actual application instead of weeks of hardware setup and configuration.
- It allows flexibility in that systems can be created and removed in minutes and companies are not saddled with unused computing equipment.
- And finally, reliability in that cloud providers are managing large datacenters and providing many levels of redundancy.
Large public cloud companies include Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and Alibaba. With datacenters all over the world, they can offer services in most geographical areas allowing companies to have their servers and data closer to their users. This also helps companies fulfill possible regulatory requirements that data must be stored in, for example, the same country as a company’s headquarters.
Security / Disaster Recovery
Many of the security aspects that companies formerly took care of themselves are now provided by Cloud providers. They can patch and install updates without causing their clients any downtime. They are also able to provide greater detail of system logging and log analysis and provide sophisticated security tools.
Disaster recovery is also enhanced. Systems can be quickly recreated and hosted in another geographical place if a datacenter is damaged.
Easy to manage
Companies manage their Cloud applications from a centralized interface. This lets them do many tasks that formerly would have been spread across many systems requiring different accesses and different administrators. Cloud companies also provide built-in powerful tools that allow their customers to automate many tasks. Additionally, detailed tools are available to monitor usage, which allows companies to quickly adjust their usage and save money.
Cloud Service Types
Cloud computing can be delivered in several ways – some of the most common are described below:
IaaS – Infrastructure as a service: This is the provisioning of traditional types of computing services – virtual servers, data storage, networking. Whatever you find in a Data Center can be replicated for IaaS.
PaaS – Platform as a service: PaaS refers to on-demand environments typically used by application developers. This helps them develop applications quickly using different environment combinations (operating systems, databases, and different network configurations). It can unburden the development team of costs and the time of setting up their needed environments themselves. This also helps them in the migration to a production system.
SaaS – Software as a service: This is simply the use of computer applications through the internet using a web browser instead of having a local installation and configuration on your local computer. Cloud providers manage data and servers. Additionally, they seamlessly upgrade and patch the software to provide new features and fix bugs. Microsoft Office 365, Dropbox, and Saleforce.com are popular examples of SaaS solutions.
There are three main ways to deploy Cloud services:
Cloud technologies are made available to the general public via the internet. These resources are available to anyone and deployed via a subscription model where users pay for what they use. Some resources are also available for free. The major providers are Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and Alibaba.
This brings the functionality of the Public Cloud into a private networked data center. A single company would host the servers needed and be typically not shared outside of the company. Companies with high security and regulatory requirements would be able to get some benefits of the Cloud and better utilize the computing hardware in their datacenter by taking advantage of cloud technologies.
This is a solution where a company marries its resources used on the Public Cloud with its existing on-premise data centers or on-premise Private Cloud. This gives organizations flexibility in regards to performing a gradual migration and the need to keep certain systems hosted on-premise due to logistical or regulatory requirements.
In Closing …
The world of Cloud Computing is already the future and is currently the most dynamic and interesting area of computing. In further articles, we will look at how your company can get the most out of the Cloud.