Cloud Computing: Beginner’s Guide
Cloud is a model of computing where you can find servers, networks, storage, development tools, and even apps are enabled through the Internet. Today organizations do not have to make major investments to buy equipment, train staff, and provide ongoing maintenance. A cloud service provider handles all the needs related to cloud computing.
In simple terms, cloud computing is the delivery of hosted services, including software, hardware, and storage, over the Internet.
What is Cloud Computing?
In a layman’s term, cloud computing is on-demand access, via the Internet, to computing resources – including applications, servers, data storage, development tools, networking capabilities, and more.
All these hardware are hosted at a remote data center managed by a cloud services provider. These services or resources are available on a monthly subscription fee, or you can bills them according to usage.
Listed below are five key characteristics of a cloud computing environment.
When you have a public cloud environment, users “plug into” the data and applications via an Internet connection, having an anytime, anywhere access.
Shared Resource Pooling
Cloud uses the multi-tenancy model. Meaning a single application is shared among several users. A copy of the application is not created for each user. Whereas several users or “tenants” can configure the application according to their specific needs.
You can request services quickly and will be provisioned without the need for manual setup and configuration.
Cloud offers a pay-as-you-go feature, where you only pay for what you use. Quite similar to how a utility company meters how much electricity, water, or gas is used and your charges based on your consumption. The cloud is also the same.
Cloud platforms are elastic in nature. Meaning an organization can scale its resource usage levels up or down quickly – when the needs change.
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Why is Cloud Computing Important?
Today, cloud technology is helping companies as they can scale and streamline operations, accelerate innovation, and reduce costs. This not only helps companies overcome the current crisis but it can lead to increased growth.
According to research, companies that are more strategic in their approach to technology are performing better financially.
Before cloud computing became common, organizations had to store all their data and software on their own hard servers and drives. The bigger the company, the more storage they needed. This way of treating and managing data is a tedious task.
For example, if word started spreading your business and you suddenly had a lot of online orders. Your servers would probably crash. So good business translates to hard work for the IT department.
It is not just businesses that benefit from cloud computing. The cloud has transformed your lives as individuals as well. Many of you must be using cloud services every day.
For instance, when you update your status on social media, check your bank accounts, or binge a new streaming series – you are most likely using applications hosted by cloud services. These apps are accessed through an internet connection. These apps are not installed on your hard drives or devices.
Cloud Computing Services
The next element of cloud computing is the service category. These primarily include Saas (Software as a Service), Paas (Platform as a Service), and Iaas (Infrastructure as a service).
When a company considers its cloud migration strategy, it must consider both factors.
Here is a brief on how they work and what they mean for your business.
1 SaaS (Software-as-a-Service)
Today SaaS is the most commonly used cloud application service. It is becoming an important way for companies to access software applications. With SaaS, your company can access a specific software application hosted on a remote server. The third-party provider manages the hosted application.
Today many ask what is software as service SaaS? Your company can access the application through a web browser based on a subscription basis. A few of the popular SaaS products include Salesforce, Microsoft Office 365, or Workday.
As a business, you should use SaaS if they are looking to easily and quickly enable cloud system access with minimal database management. SaaS is suitable for applications that require mobile and web access. It is also good for short-term projects requiring quick collaboration and startups that need to launch ecommerce websites immediately.
2 PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service)
PaaS is a popular choice for large businesses. Companies who want to create large, unique applications without making significant financial investments.
With PaaS, your company can access a pre-defined environment for software development. You can use the env to build, test, and run applications. Meaning your developers do not need to start from scratch when creating apps.
Therefore, PaaS allows your developer to focus on the creative side of software development. Instead of working on tedious tasks such as writing extensive code or managing security patches or software updates. Examples of PaaS products include web servers, Google App Engine, and SQL servers.
3 IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service)
IaaS is the most straightforward option for businesses. With IaaS, your company can migrate its hardware. Your company can rent servers and data storage in the cloud rather than maintaining and purchasing its infrastructure.
IaaS provides a company with the same technologies and capabilities as a traditional data center. System administrators within your company will be responsible for managing the databases, applications, runtime, security, etc. In contrast, the cloud provider manages the hard drives, hardware and software, disaster recovery setup, servers, networking, operating systems, storage, etc.
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Types of Cloud Computing
You already know that most people are already using cloud technology in some form or another. IT has become part of our daily lives. But have you ever thought about where does all this data actually live and who runs it?
Do you know that you can deploy cloud computing in different ways? It actually depends on what services a business needs. Based on this, the deployment model includes – public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, and multi-cloud.
Listed below are the different types.
1 Public Cloud
When you connect to a public cloud, it means you are using an internet connection to access the cloud environment. In simple terms, you are accessing computing resources hosted on data centers that a third-party cloud service provider manages. The difference is you do not own or maintain these resources on-premise. A shared public cloud has many organizations sharing the same infrastructure.
The largest cloud service providers are collectively referred to as MAAGs. These include Microsoft (Azure), Amazon (Amazon Web Services or AWS), Alibaba (Alicloud), and Google (Google Cloud). Other cloud providers include Oracle and IBM.
2 Private Cloud
This cloud model is great for companies who have concerns about sharing resources on a public cloud. Its cloud env is implemented on servers owned and maintained by the organization. The env is accessed over the Internet or through a private internal network that public cannot access. A private environment gives you complete control over your data and security. There are many examples of private cloud.
3 Hybrid Cloud
Many organizations today actually use a combination of several cloud envs. This is referred to as a hybrid cloud approach. In a hybrid cloud, companies often include a combination of public cloud and private cloud. At times they also use it in combination with some on-premise infrastructure.
It is an approach, particularly the case of hybrid cloud in which a company uses services from multiple public cloud providers.
What is Cloud Security?
Security is an issue, specially for companies considering public cloud services. Traditionally, security concerns have been the primary obstacle for companies in adopting the cloud.
Cloud security involves the technology and procedures that secure cloud computing environments. These could be against both insider and external cybersecurity threats. But over the years service providers are offering better security solutions to their tenants.
Cloud computing is the delivery of hosted services over the Internet. It has several benefits like rapid deployment, flexibility, scalability, and low up-front costs. All these features make cloud computing virtually universal among organizations of all sizes.
But with all these advantages cloud security is a primary concern among users. Cloud security refers to the technologies, policies, controls, and services that protect cloud data, infrastructure, and applications from threats. As you might be aware public cloud does not have clear perimeters. Hence it becomes even more challenging when adopting modern cloud approaches.
A few cloud security best practices include:
1 Shared responsibility for security
In general, the cloud provider is responsible for securing cloud infrastructure. Whereas, the customer is responsible for protecting its data within the cloud env.
2 Data encryption
It is an essential aspect of the cloud. Data should be encrypted while at rest, in transit, and in use. All customers need to maintain complete control over security keys and hardware security modules to encrypt their data.
3 Collaborative management
There has to be proper communication and a clear understanding of the processes between IT, operations, and security teams. Only then will it ensure seamless cloud integrations that are not only secure but also sustainable.
4 Security and compliance monitoring
Understanding all regulatory compliance standards are significant for cloud security. Cloud-based services should maintain visibility of all data exchanges between private, public, and hybrid cloud environments.
Future of Cloud Computing
In 2020, as the COVID-19 crisis unfolded, companies began making digital changes. They moved to the cloud to reduce the human and business impact. Today it is clear that working from home and business continuity is only made possible by cloud computing.
You can notice that companies that invested in cloud technology are at a better level. They carry less fixed IT costs, thus making it possible for them to cut expenses and invest in the cloud.
Today cloud service providers are offering a full spectrum of cloud services to help maximize the benefits of the cloud. Moreover, the cloud has become more than a technology solution. Hence adopting cloud computing solutions can provide lasting success, especially during a crisis.