Computing 101: Understanding Cloud

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Computing 101

Despite the fact that people use the cloud on a daily basis, not everyone has a clear idea of what it is. The “cloud” isn’t really one thing. It’s more of a metaphor or a catch-all term for computing services that are offered remotely, meaning you don’t have to have physical servers to use them. With that in mind, the following is a brief guide to help you better understand what the cloud is.

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is a type of internet-based computing that provides shared resources, software, and information to computers and other devices on-demand using remote data centers. The use of cloud computing has exploded over the past decade with many companies opting to store their data on third-party cloud platforms as opposed to storing them on-premises.

Types of Cloud Computing

When it comes to the cloud, there are three primary types of cloud computing. These include the following:

1. The Public Cloud

The public cloud is a type of cloud computing where third-party providers offer on-demand computing services and infrastructure over the Internet, often through the use of a basic web browser. If you use Gmail to send emails, Netflix to stream movies, or Google Docs to share documents with others in real-time, then you’re using the public cloud.

2. The Private Cloud

Private clouds are controlled by a single organization that uses the associated hardware to process data on-site, inside a company’s private network. Private clouds can be useful for companies that have specific security needs or wish to avoid the expenses of paying for access to public cloud storage.

3. The Hybrid Cloud

A hybrid cloud is made up of both private and public clouds. For example,  a business might use the public cloud to back up files and store data but opt for a private server for internal collaboration.

What are the Different Cloud Computing Services?

There are many different cloud service providers out there. When it comes to the types of cloud services, there are four main types:

Software as a Service (SaaS)

If you use a web service to work on a document, track your expenses, or chat with your friends, then you’re using SaaS. Examples of popular SaaS include Gmail and Google Docs. They’re essentially software applications that you use through the cloud instead of having to download them onto your computer’s hard drive.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

IaaS allows users to access remote computing power through the use of virtual servers. These cloud platforms can be accessed via the internet to perform high-performance computing on tasks like image rendering, big data analysis, video encoding, and more. Some of the biggest IaaS providers include Google Cloud Platform and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

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Platform as a Service (PaaS)

PaaS is essentially a layer of the cloud that lets you develop your own programs with specific tools. For example,  PaaS might give you access to databases, software libraries, and other tools. It’s up to you to decide what to use the cloud for.

Function as a Service (FaaS)

FaaS allows software development teams to create code that’s run immediately and serves a specific function using serverless architecture. As a result, they can save money upfront on their operating systems, hardware, and other IT infrastructure.

What are the Benefits of Cloud Computing?

The following are some of the primary benefits of using cloud resources:

  1. Instant Accessibility: With the cloud, all your files and data are stored in a safe, remote location and can be accessed from any device with an internet connection, including mobile devices and laptops.
  2. Enhanced Collaboration: The cloud environment makes it easy for people to work together on projects in real-time.
  3. Improved Data Security: Cloud security used to be a big worry; however that’s no longer a concern. Cloud service providers use advanced encryption, firewalls, and other security features to keep sensitive data safe.
  4. Improved Disaster Recovery: If your computer crashes, you won’t have to worry about losing all of your data if you save it to the cloud. You can access it from any device.
  5. Automatic Updates: SaaS services are constantly updated by the owners, meaning they can add new features and fix bugs with no user input.
  6. Increased Cost Savings: The cloud is more cost-effective than traditional data storage methods since you don’t have to upgrade your existing hardware to add space. Most providers offer different pricing tiers based on your needs as well.
  7. Improved Scalability: Cloud service providers always offer the option to scale up, which means you’ll never run out of space.

Cloud Applications For Businesses

Although the cloud is used every day by personal users, cloud services are particularly useful to businesses. Many companies rely on a variety of cloud solutions these days, whether it be a basic messaging solution like Slack or a comprehensive CRM, like Salesforce. Many businesses even use the cloud to deliver content via wi-fi to their digital signage.

The ability to store data and process data via access to virtual services makes cloud computing an attractive proposition for most modern businesses.

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