What’s Cloud Computing? Insight and Benefits
What’s Cloud Computing? Insight and Benefits
Cloud computing is a means of providing computing services (including databases, servers, software, and networking) via the internet, allowing the user to bypass direct management of those systems. Cloud computing is a way to remotely store and access data and programming that utilizes the internet rather than hosting information on your computer’s hard drive.
In essence, cloud computing is designed to streamline processes for developers and non-developers alike with the ultimate goal being to connect and share cloud and on-premise data. Think of cloud computing, fundamentally, as a delivery method.
If you’ve uploaded a photo to Dropbox or reacted to a friend’s new baby on Facebook, then you’ve already experienced cloud computing. Dropbox is a cloud storage system that allows you to expand the ability to store files. Facebook was one of the first companies to innovate a database system scalable across hundreds or thousands of servers: a major contribution to the world of cloud computing.
Though very basic versions of cloud computing have been around since the 1960s, it has advanced immensely since its early iteration, and it’s a version of data storage that’s here to stay. According to Forbes, by 2020, some 83% of enterprise workloads will exist in the cloud. And your business might not get there all at once: hybrid cloud integration is also a popular option for many companies. Consider the below opportunities that cloud computing can bring to your business.
One of the biggest challenges companies currently face is increasing complexity in data, with the sheer amount of data to manage to double every two years. Business leaders must make decisions around integrating new data sources (cloud, SaaS, unstructured data) along with routing legacy data (ERP, on-premises data warehouses) into new data destinations (data lakes, cloud data warehouses).
With great data management comes great responsibility. Here are the most basic services you’ll need to understand in order to begin your decision-making process:
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
IaaS is the most basic level of cloud solution in a cloud computing model. In an IaaS model, a cloud provider (rather than an on-premises data center) hosts infrastructure components like servers and networking hardware. It’s an optimal option for companies looking to build applications from scratch and have more control; however it does require internal technical skills for successful execution.
Platform as a service (PaaS)
PaaS is the next step up from IaaS. With PaaS, in addition to infrastructure, providers offer the software and tools needed to build applications. This could include operating systems, graphic user interface, programming languages, and database management, for instance.
Software as a service (SaaS)
In the SaaS model, providers host and manage the infrastructure and applications for users. With SaaS, the user is not required to install anything since the software is hosted in the cloud. Purchasers do have some control when it comes to configuring settings, such as designating authorized users or creating customized dashboards.
Benefits of cloud computing
Cloud computing offers many opportunities to streamline operations for both business leaders and end-users. Here are five examples of those benefits:
Pay-Per-Use: Software piracy has long been a concern for developers as it leads to revenue loss through unauthorized product usage. With cloud computing, resources are measured on a per-user basis, cutting down on both piracy risks and company costs.
Resiliency: Cloud computing has dramatically altered the way application resiliency works. Where previously, an equipment failure or power outage could potentially result in a major disruption, now, cloud computing advances mean that a server, network, or entire data center is able to recover quickly from such an incident and continue operating.
Elasticity: While there may be opportunities to scale up infrastructure (i.e., an application that needs to be in place for thousands of users following a one-time marketing campaign), if you can’t scale back down when needed, those resources will be left sitting on the table, losing you valuable dollars. Elasticity is unique in its ability to easily scale both up and down.
Self-service (or automated) provisioning: This allows developers and tech-savvy users to have control over set up or launch for a service or application without needing input from a dedicated IT team. This means more automation, speed, and predictability, as well as lower costs when creating both internal and customer-facing resources.
Migration flexibility: Though the initial steps of migrating all of your company’s data, applications, and infrastructure over to the cloud are complex and take some upfront time, once you’re there, the ease with which data can be transferred to and from the cloud will pay off in terms of cost savings and the ability to use new and emerging services with greater ease.
Ease of sharing files: In a global age where it’s almost a guarantee that team members are stationed in different states or countries, the ease with which files can be shared and edited regardless of location is a massive plus.
Cost-saving potential to businesses: A more traditional in-house solution comes at a higher cost when your data, applications, or servers need a boost, requiring hardware investments. With the scalability provided by the cloud, if your data needs to shift, the cloud shifts with you, thereby saving you or your company at the bank.
Faster software upgrades: Whether you’re head of corporate sales or the CEO of your burgeoning start-up, almost nothing can cut through the start of a productive workday like a software update that’s taking hours to install. Cloud-based applications have a solution here too: they automatically refresh and update themselves so downtime is minimized.