UNDERSTANDING CLOUD COMPUTING SERVICES
What it Means
In a nutshell, cloud computing may be defined as the delivery of computing services, which could include a whole range of services such as servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence, over the Internet (“the cloud”). This arrangement offers faster innovation, flexibility in the use of precious resources, and economies of scale. Cloud Computing Services offer their information technology (IT) services over a dedicated network or, as in most cases, over the Internet. This includes services having delivery on demand, and various modes of payment based on usage.
Types of Clouds
Cloud computing services are of different types, to suit the various client needs and the computing architecture that these services would be deployed on. The three basic types are elaborated below:
- Public Cloud – These cloud services and platforms are owned and operated by third-party cloud service providers, who deploy their computing resources like servers and storage over the Internet. A good example of such a platform is the Microsoft Azure cloud. In public cloud services, all hardware, software, and other supporting infrastructure is owned and managed by the cloud service provider. Customers can easily gain access to these services and manage their accounts by means of a web browser.
- Private Cloud – This type of cloud service refers to cloud computing resources and network infrastructure deployed exclusively for a single business or organization. The infrastructure for a private cloud can be physically located on the company’s on-site data-center or, outsourced from third-party service providers.
- Hybrid Cloud – Hybrid clouds, as the name suggests, are a combination of public and private clouds, connected together through technology that permits data and applications to be shared between them. This option of being able to move data and applications between private and public clouds allows businesses greater flexibility, more options for deployment and helps optimize their existing infrastructure, security, and compliance.
Types of Cloud Computing Services
Cloud computing services can be classified into various categories. They are, at times, also referred to as the cloud computing stack, because they build on top of one another. Based on the type of service the cloud model is offering, the various types of cloud computing services can be explained as follows:
- IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) – This is the most basic category of cloud computing service. In IaaS, clients hire IT infrastructure, such as servers and virtual machines (VMs), storage, networks, operating systems, from a cloud service provider, on a pay-as-you-go basis.
- PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) – This service refers to cloud computing services that offer an on-demand environment for developing, testing, delivering, and managing software applications. PaaS is designed to allow developers to quickly and easily create apps for the web or mobile devices, without the worry of setting up or managing the accompanying infrastructure, such as servers, storage, network, and databases.
- SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) – SaaS is a method, primarily subscription based and on demand, for delivering software applications over the Internet. Under this type of arrangement, the cloud service providers host and manage the software application and accompanying infrastructure and handle all maintenance. Users simply connect to the application over the Internet, using a web browser on their smartphones, tablets, or PCs.
- Serverless Computing – This category of cloud computing services overlaps with PaaS, and focuses on building app functionality without spending time continually managing the servers and infrastructure required to do so. In this type of arrangement, the cloud service provider takes care of the setup, capacity planning and server management for the customer. Serverless architectures are highly scalable and event-driven. This means that resources are allocated only when a specific function or trigger occurs.
How Cloud Computing Services Work
Cloud computing services have several features in common:
- Virtualization – Cloud computing services make extensive use of server and storage virtualization to rapidly determine correct resource allocation.
- Multi-Tenancy – To gain economies of scale, resources are pooled and shared among multiple clients.
- Network Access – Access to resources is granted through a web-browser or a thin client, installed on networked devices.
- On Demand – Resources are provided, on demand, from an online catalog of pre-set options.
- Elastic – Depending on the demand, the availability of resources can be scaled up or down, automatically.
- Metering/Charge back – Billing for the use of resources is based on service arrangement and can be tracked.
Top Benefits of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing presents a paradigm shift from the traditional way businesses use IT resources. Some of the major benefits that organizations gain out of turning to cloud computing services are listed below:
- Cost – Investing in Cloud computing services removes the cost of investing in hardware and software and setting up and managing data-center operations.
- Speed – Most of the cloud computing services are provided on a self-service and on-demand basis. Therefore, even vast amounts of computing resources can be made available in a very short time, usually not more than a few mouse clicks, thereby allowing businesses wide flexibility and easing the pressure of capacity planning.
- Global Scale – The benefits of cloud computing services include the ability to deliver the right amount of IT resources at the right time and at the right place.
- Productivity – On-site data-centers usually require time-consuming IT management chores. Cloud computing does away with these tasks, thereby enabling IT teams to spend time on achieving more important business goals.
- Performance – The biggest cloud computing services, are regularly upgraded to the latest and fastest and most efficient computing hardware all across their network of data centers. This results in improved performance, better latency, and increased efficiency.
- Reliability – Cloud computing services offer cheaper options for data backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity since data can be duplicated at multiple redundant sites on the cloud provider’s network.
- Security – Most cloud service providers offer a wide range of policies, technologies, and controls that result in a strong security posture for businesses, thus helping protect corporate data, apps, and infrastructure from potential threats.
With the migration of several services to the online platform, increasing adoption by individuals and corporate customers, and low cost of data, Cloud Computing Services have come of age. Given their advantages over the traditional modes of providing the same services, it is but natural that more and more businesses and individuals rely on cloud-based services for their data computing tasks.