Cloud computing is a model of computing where computing resources (such as processing power, storage, and software applications) are delivered over the internet, rather than being located on local servers or personal computers.
In a cloud computing model, users can access these resources on demand and pay only for the resources they use, which can help reduce costs and increase flexibility. The resources are typically provided by a third-party cloud services provider, such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, or Microsoft Azure, which operates and maintains the infrastructure needed to deliver the services.
Rather than keeping files on a proprietary hard drive or local storage device, cloud-based storage makes it possible to save them to a remote database. As long as an electronic device has access to the web, it has access to the data and the software programs to run it.
Cloud computing is a popular option for people and businesses for several reasons including cost savings, increased productivity, speed and efficiency, performance, and security.
What are the different types of cloud computing services?
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) - provides users with access to virtualized computing resources such as servers, storage, and networking.
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) - provides users with a platform to develop, run, and manage their own applications without needing to worry about the underlying infrastructure.
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provides users with access to software applications and services that are delivered over the internet and hosted by the provider.
Understanding Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is named as such because the information being accessed is found remotely in the cloud or a virtual space. Companies that provide cloud services enable users to store files and applications on remote servers and then access all the data via the Internet. This means the user is not required to be in a specific place to gain access to it, allowing the user to work remotely.
Cloud computing can be both public and private. Public cloud services provide their services over the Internet for a fee. Private cloud services, on the other hand, only provide services to a certain number of people. These services are a system of networks that supply hosted services. There is also a hybrid option, which combines elements of both public and private services.
Types of Cloud Services
Regardless of the kind of service, cloud computing services provide users with a series of functions including:
Storage, backup, and data retrieval
Creating and testing apps
Audio and video streaming
Delivering software on demand
Cloud computing is still a fairly new service but is being used by several different organizations from big corporations to small businesses, nonprofits to government agencies, and even individual consumers.
What Is an Example of Cloud Computing?
Today, there are several examples of cloud computing applications used by both businesses and individuals. One type of cloud service would be streaming platforms for audio or video, where the actual media files are stored remotely. Another would be data storage platforms like Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, or Box.
Dropbox: Dropbox is a cloud storage and file-sharing platform that allows users to store files and folders in the cloud and access them from any device with an internet connection.
Microsoft Office 365: Microsoft Office 365 is a cloud-based suite of productivity tools that includes applications such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Users can access these applications from anywhere, at any time, using any device with an internet connection.
Netflix: Netflix is a popular streaming video service that uses cloud computing to deliver content to its users. The company stores its video content in the cloud and uses cloud-based servers to stream it to users around the world.
Salesforce: Salesforce is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) platform that allows businesses to manage their customer interactions and sales processes in the cloud.
Amazon Web Services (AWS): AWS is a cloud computing platform that offers a wide range of services, including computing, storage, and database services. Many businesses use AWS to host their websites, applications, and other services in the cloud.
Advantages of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing has many advantages that make it an increasingly popular choice for businesses and organizations of all sizes. Some of the key advantages of cloud computing include:
Cost savings: Cloud computing eliminates the need for businesses to invest in expensive hardware, software, and infrastructure. Instead, they can pay for only the resources they need and scale up or down as needed. This helps to reduce costs and improve the bottom line.
Scalability: Cloud computing enables businesses to scale their resources up or down quickly and easily as their needs change. This means they can quickly respond to changes in demand, such as during peak periods, without having to invest in additional hardware or infrastructure.
Accessibility: Cloud computing enables businesses to access their data and applications from anywhere, at any time, using any device with an internet connection. This makes it easy for employees to work remotely, which can help to improve productivity and reduce costs.
Security: Cloud providers invest heavily in security measures to protect their customers' data. This includes robust encryption, firewalls, and other security measures that can help to prevent data breaches and other cyber threats.
Collaboration: Cloud computing makes it easy for teams to collaborate on projects and share data, regardless of where they are located. This can help to improve productivity and streamline workflows.
Disadvantages of the Cloud
While cloud computing offers many benefits, there are also some potential disadvantages that organizations should be aware of:
Dependence on internet connectivity: Cloud computing requires a reliable and fast internet connection to access applications and data. If there is a disruption in internet connectivity, it can impact productivity and prevent users from accessing critical resources.
Data security and privacy concerns: Storing sensitive data in the cloud can raise concerns about data security and privacy. Organizations need to ensure that the cloud provider they choose has robust security measures in place and that they comply with relevant regulations and standards.
Potential for vendor lock-in: Some cloud providers may make it difficult to switch to a different provider or to bring data and applications back in-house. This can create a dependence on a particular vendor, which can limit flexibility and increase costs.
Limited control over infrastructure: With cloud computing, organizations typically have limited control over the underlying infrastructure that supports their applications and data. This can make it challenging to customize the infrastructure to meet specific needs or to troubleshoot issues.
Costs: While cloud computing can offer cost savings in some cases, it can also be expensive if an organization requires a large amount of storage or processing power. Organizations need to carefully consider their usage and costs when choosing a cloud provider.
Traditionally, security concerns have been the primary obstacle for organizations considering cloud services, particularly public cloud services. In response to demand, however, the security offered by cloud service providers is steadily outstripping on-premises security solutions.
Maintaining cloud security demands different procedures and employee skillsets than in legacy IT environments. Some cloud security best practices include the following:
Shared responsibility for security: Generally, the cloud provider is responsible for securing cloud infrastructure and the customer is responsible for protecting its data within the cloud—but it's also important to clearly define data ownership between private and public third parties.
Data encryption: Data should be encrypted while at rest, in transit, and in use. Customers need to maintain full control over security keys and hardware security modules.
User identity and access management: Customer and IT teams need a full understanding of and visibility into network, device, application, and data access.
Collaborative management: Proper communication and clear, understandable processes between IT, operations, and security teams will ensure seamless cloud integrations that are secure and sustainable.
Security and compliance monitoring: This begins with understanding all regulatory compliance standards applicable to your industry and setting up active monitoring of all connected systems and cloud-based services to maintain visibility of all data exchanges between public, private, and hybrid cloud environments.