In today’s world, you do not need to own all the hardware or software to implement a business solution. All you need is the necessary skills to work with relevant technologies and some capital to use services available on the internet. In other words, you do not need to reinvent the wheel. You do not need to purchase expensive hardware to implement a business solution. This is possible through services being offered over the cloud.
With the increase in the internet’s reliability, speed, and bandwidth, computing resources, including hardware and software, are being offered on a pay-as-you-go basis. This means you pay only for what you use and no more spending time on procurement, delivery, and setup of complicated hardware and software. All that infrastructure is available even in a remote location computed with much-needed attributes of high availability and complete disaster recovery. What’s more, these systems are said to be as secure as your onsite infrastructure, but that is debatable to some extent.
Let’s first define and explain what cloud computing is.
What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is the availability of computing resources, both hardware and software, over the internet using technologies like Virtualization, Service Oriented Architecture, Utility Computing, and the likes.
As per a definition on the Microsoft website,” cloud computing is the delivery of computing services including servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence over the internet.”
What’s more, it is dynamic in nature. You get to scale your infrastructure up or down depending on your business needs, making for healthy business economics.
An example of cloud computing is Microsoft Office 365. You get to work on all components of Microsoft Office 365 without having to purchase and install it on machines. What about hardware? A good example of hardware provisioning over the internet is Microsoft OneDrive, the online storage service. In both cases, you get to use the software or hardware as if you own it, just for the period you require it.
You can gauge the impact of cloud computing from the number of advantages it offers to businesses. Before we look at some of these advantages, let’s have a quick look at the types of clouds.
Types of Cloud Computing
Depending on where the cloud resides, more formally, location and ownership, there are four types of cloud computing models in use:
Public Clouds are cloud environments based on IT infrastructure owned by cloud computing service providers. In this case, the cloud infrastructure is not owned by the user. The location of the infrastructure is at the sole discretion of the service provider. The service provider might implement their cloud infrastructure in data centers at various strategic locations around the globe. They basically segment the IT infrastructure and redistribute this IT real estate among multiple tenants- the users of cloud computing services. This public cloud is available for anybody who wishes to use its services.
Private clouds, on the other hand, are clouds intended for use only for a single client. This usually is run behind the user or client’s firewall. Businesses that need more secure environments and cannot take any risk with their data tend to go for private clouds. Typically, they are located on-premises, but that is no longer necessary. Cloud computing service providers these days also offer private clouds offsite.
A hybrid cloud is a setup that brings together at least one private cloud and at least one public cloud, using Local Area Networks, Wide Area Networks, APIs, or Virtual Private Networks. The whole setup needs to be managed by a single integrated orchestration platform. An orchestration platform, in simple terms, is software that you can use to manage and provision IT hardware and software.
Multi clouds are a setup where more than one public/private cloud provider is engaged. Enterprises usually choose multi-clouds to enhance security and performance.
Types of Cloud Computing services
Primarily, there are three types of computing services:
In this case, the IT infrastructure is available for provisioning over the internet. The cloud service provider manages the infrastructure, including servers, networking, storage, virtualization/computing, and the like.
Platform as a Service allows the client to own the application and application data resident on the platform. The rest of the infrastructure is managed by the cloud service provider. PaaS is popular with businesses that are into application software development and testing.
Software as a Service allows the client to access only the services offered by the software they subscribed to. This is typically achieved through the use of APIs. SaaS apps are typical web or mobile applications available through a browser, much like Microsoft Office 365.
Knowing the different kinds of cloud computing and knowing their advantages will let you appreciate cloud computing use cases.
Advantages of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing at the onset promises many advantages for businesses.
Reduced IT capital expenditure
This will sound like music to startups. This is true when you start up your business and spend as little as possible on capital expenditure. Cloud computing allows you to invest in virtual hardware and software resources, reducing your cost of equipment, real estate. Also, a skilled workforce with computing training is the key to getting your equipment provisioned in the quickest possible way.
Dynamically Scalable Infrastructure
You get to dynamically scale your IT spend either up or down, depending on business requirements, keeping your business nimble.
Infrastructure on the cloud ensures you are immune to disruptive events like natural disasters, grid failures, and other events of major consequence. Your data is always backed up as per your contractual agreement with the service provider, and the onus on disaster recovery is transferred to the service provider.
What Does Cloud Computing replace?
After understanding the advantages of cloud computing, it becomes easier to understand what Cloud computing brings to the table and what it replaces.
- The first and foremost is the acquisition of IT hardware
Cloud computing replaces the cumbersome process of bidding, procuring, installation, and setup of IT hardware, which can take anywhere between 3 to 6 months in some cases. All the IT resources are available over the internet for provisioning within a matter of minutes, but practically speaking might take a day or more to set it up the way you want it.
- Secondly, cloud computing replaces the need for an expert workforce
The skilled workforce required to set up infrastructure is eliminated with all the heavy lifting done by the service provider. This does not mean in any way that cloud computing seeks to replace human resources—the liability of employing skilled human resources shifts to the service provider.
- Lastly, cloud computing will replace periodic maintenance activities by IT staff, including updates and patches
The security liability on the IT infrastructure provided by the service provider rests on the service provider alone. So, cloud computing will take that activity away from your IT staff. However, your IT staff will still be required to ensure IT compliance from the service provider as per contractual agreements.
Believe it or not, there is no denying that cloud computing is here to stay. Many technologies in the future will be based on cloud computing. It has become an essential skill to have, and you will only do good to your careers if you upskill on this front. Multiple cloud computing training programs are available.