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Understanding Cloud Computing

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Cloud computing is a data centre that is hosted to provide on-demand services to different computer resources over the internet. Servers, storage databases, applications, software, and other computing services are cloud computing resources whose access can be increased or decreased depending on the user’s demand.

These remote cloud computing data centres are managed by a cloud services provider (or CSP) which enables the client to access data and network applications via the internet from remote servers, databases, and computers.

We use CSP in our homes- like Gmail, to save our photos in Google photos or just watch movies through Netflix.

The three main types of cloud computing services:

Platform as a Service (PaaS) – offers a comprehensive platform for creating, testing, and launching applications and services that can be easily scaled to meet user demand. By providing a flexible framework that developers can use to create custom applications, PaaS simplifies the development process and makes it easier to adapt to changing business needs. With PaaS, users can quickly deploy new applications, test and optimize them, and scale them up or down as needed, without having to worry about managing the underlying infrastructure.

Red Hat OpenShift is an example of PaaS built around Docker containers (executable units of software where application codes are packaged) and Kubernetes, an open-source container that automates operation, developing, and distributing network traffic equally across the resources that support an application, and more for container-based applications.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – provides quick and flexible access through the internet to computing resources such as servers, storage, and networking infrastructure on a pay-as-you-go base. IaaS systems include Automated administrative tasks (you can automate repetitive and monotonous tasks), Dynamic scaling (increase or decrease the resources as needed), and Platform virtualization technology (creating a virtual machine or version to support applications on computer and hardware devices). Examples of IaaS include Amazon Web Services (AWS) Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Microsoft Azure, and Google Compute Engine (GCE) to name a few.

Software as a Service (SaaS) – provides users access to software applications hosted in the cloud and accessed through a computer or mobile app having access to the internet. Users pay a subscription fee or pay an amount based on their actual usage of the web services. SaaS technology is easily accessible using any device with the internet, and does not require any installations or updates, or licensing. It is cost-effective as you pay based on your usage. An example of a SaaS application is Microsoft 365.

The CSP provides its services through public clouds, private clouds, and hybrid cloud services and a few new ones.

Public cloud providers are the ones where we can store our data for a fee at a remote database instead of saving it on hard drives and local servers.

Private cloud service providers cater their services to companies or organizations which need not invest in expensive IT infrastructure and just rent the services on a pay-as-you-go basis. This helps businesses to be alert and open to changing market conditions.

Hybrid cloud service providers are a mix of both public and private clouds.

In addition to the above – Multi-cloud and Community cloud systems are increasingly used these days. In multi-cloud service providers, the users can use multiple cloud computing platforms like IaaS to perform their tasks by using them simultaneously or by migrating between them.

A community cloud is used by organizations that support a particular community that have similar concerns like the same mission or policy or security requirements. A community cloud is either managed by a third-party vendor or the same organization. It can be both on or off-premises.

  • Cloud computing is cost-effective as businesses can reduce their capital expenditures on infrastructure, equipment, maintenance, and upgrades. They would have to pay a fee to the cloud service provider, based on the computing resources they use. Small businesses or start-ups benefit from this as they do not have to invest in expensive hardware and software upfront.
  • Another key benefit of cloud computing is scalability, where the computing resources, can be increased or decreased depending on the user’s demand. In turn, businesses quickly respond to changes in demand, such as increased website traffic or the need for additional storage space and security, without having to invest in additional hardware or software.
  • Cloud computing offers great flexibility compared to traditional on-premises computing. Employees can work from any location as the resources are accessible with an internet connection. This allows the user to easily share files and collaborate with other users from different locations to work together on projects and in turn deliver work with high productivity, efficiency, and speed.
  • Dependence on Internet: Cloud computing relies heavily on a stable internet connection, which means that if your internet goes down, you may not be able to access your data and applications.
  • Security concerns: Cloud computing can be susceptible to security breaches, which can lead to data loss, theft, or corruption.
  • Cost: While cloud computing can be cost-effective for some businesses, it can be more expensive in the long run for others, especially if there are unexpected charges for additional resources or data storage.
  • Limited control: Cloud computing services are often managed by a third-party provider, which means that businesses may have limited control over their data and applications.
  • Compatibility issues: Not all applications are compatible with cloud computing, which means that businesses may need to upgrade or replace existing software to use cloud services.
  • Downtime: Cloud computing services are dependent on the provider’s infrastructure, which means that any issues or downtime on their end can impact a business’s access to data and applications.
  • It is important for businesses to carefully consider the potential disadvantages of cloud computing before implementing it in their operations.
Cloud computing is a fast-growing technology that has changed the way businesses and individuals approach computing. Instead of having to invest in expensive physical hardware and software, businesses can rent computing resources from cloud service providers, allowing them to scale their computing resources up or down depending on their needs.
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