Cloud Computing: What is Cloud and Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing has transformed how organizations access computing resources and manage data. Instead of owning their own physical servers or data centers, companies can leverage cloud computing services to achieve scalability, efficiency, and cost savings. This blog post will provide an in-depth look at what cloud computing is, its key benefits, types of cloud services and Cloud Server, uses, advantages and disadvantages, real-world examples, defining characteristics, and frequently asked questions.
Cloud Computing Definition
In simple terms, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the internet, instead of on your computer’s hard drive. The “cloud” refers to servers accessed via the internet. So cloud computing is just a fancy way of saying stuff is not on your own computer.
Benefits of Cloud Computing
There are several compelling reasons why businesses choose to adopt cloud computing:
Cloud computing eliminates the capital expense of buying hardware and software and setting up data centers. It only requires paying a predictable operating expense for the computing resources used. Businesses can scale services up and down to meet demand without wasted infrastructure spending.
Companies can scale cloud computing resources instantly to accommodate workload spikes and new needs. This level of agility is difficult to achieve with on-premises IT systems.
Rather than making large upfront commitments to specific hardware configurations and software platforms, companies can tap into cloud services as needs emerge. This makes adapting to business or technology changes faster.
As long as they have an internet connection, employees can access data and apps from any device and location using the cloud. This enables a mobile workforce and supports business continuity.
Cloud-based tools make it easier for teams to work together in real-time, share documents, and manage workflows regardless of physical location.
The idea of cloud computing has been around since the 1950s. But it didn’t become a commercial reality until the 2000s. Here’s a quick look at some key moments in the history of cloud computing:
- 1950s – Large organizations like governments and academic institutions begin using rudimentary forms of cloud computing by allowing multiple users to access a central computer via dumb terminals.
- 1961 – John McCarthy suggests that computing power will one day be provided to general users like a public utility such as electricity and water.
- 1990s – Telecommunications companies begin offering virtual private network (VPN) services, giving birth to the idea of cloud computing.
- 1999 – Salesforce launches and provides enterprise applications through a simple website. This is considered a major milestone in cloud computing history.
- 2000s – Amazon pioneers the idea of renting storage and computing power via web services like Amazon S3 and EC2. Soon after, Google and Microsoft launch competing cloud services.
- 2007 – IBM and Google partner with universities to support cloud computing research initiatives.
- 2008 – The National Science Foundation starts funding cloud computing research projects. Soon after, Eucalyptus becomes the first open source software for deploying private clouds.
- 2009 – Microsoft releases Windows Azure, officially entering the public cloud market.
- 2010 – It begins gaining widespread commercial adoption. The public cloud market is now dominated by Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.
So in summary, the idea of cloud computing originated in the 1950s but only became a viable commercial model in the 21st century with the advent of high-speed internet connections and powerful data centers operated by the tech giants.
Types of Cloud Computing Delivery Models
There are three primary ways to categorize cloud computing delivery models:
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
This model provides access to fundamental computing resources like servers, storage, and networking. Instead of purchasing hardware, clients leverage it as an on-demand service. Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure provide common examples of IaaS.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
PaaS provides a complete platform and environment for users to develop, manage, and deliver apps and services without building the underlying infrastructure. It may incorporate workflow management, business rules, database integration, and more. Salesforce and Heroku offer PaaS environments.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
SaaS provides complete software applications over the internet rather than having them installed locally. Common examples include email, calendaring, document management, and collaboration tools like G Suite. SaaS frees clients from software maintenance and management.
Uses of Cloud Computing
There are many ways companies are gaining advantages from cloud adoption including:
- Data storage, backup, and recovery
- Hosting websites and web apps
- Media processing and streaming
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning
- Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing
- Serverless computing for apps and microservices
- Big data and analytics
- Disaster recovery
- Software development and testing
- Gaming, graphics, and computer-aided design
Essentially any app, service, or workload with variable or spiking usage can benefit from cloud elasticity. Even mainframe migration to the cloud is growing.
Advantages and Disadvantages
- Lower overall IT costs without large capital investments
- Scales instantly to meet usage spikes
- Innovates faster with access to latest tech
- Focuses resources on business vs. IT management
- Implements global growth and expansion
- Primed for mobility and workforce agility
- Heightened security and compliance capabilities
- Built-in resilience and data recovery
- Sustainability from pooled, shared resources
- Loss of complete control and hardware ownership
- Continual costs rather than one-time CapEx
- Reliance on internet connectivity
- Multi-cloud complexity vs. single vendor
- Limited customization and configurability
- Migrations can encounter unexpected challenges
- Security and compliance responsibility sharing
Examples of Cloud Computing
Popular business cloud services include:
- Dropbox – File storage and sharing
- Box – Secure content management
- Amazon S3 – Scalable cloud object storage
- AWS – Servers, networking, analytics, databases, machine learning
- Azure – Compute, storage, OSes, IoT, AI + machine learning
- Rackspace – Hybrid infrastructure including VMware
– Productivity Suites
- Office 365 – Outlook, Word, Excel + cloud collaboration
- G Suite – Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar + more
- Zoho – Office apps, CRM, BI, email, and collaboration software
– Customer Relationship Management
- Salesforce – Contact management, sales automation, analytics
- Zendesk – Customer service and engagement software
– Human Resources Software
- Workday – HR, payroll, accounting, planning, and analytics
- SuccessFactors – Employee experience and performance management
These represent only a small sample as cloud now dominates deployment of new software and services.
There are five key characteristics commonly used to define cloud services:
– On-Demand Self-Service
End users can provision capabilities like server time and network storage automatically as needed without human interaction from a service provider.
– Broad Network Access
Services can be accessed over standard networks and protocols on any device including phones, tablets, laptops, and workstations.
– Resource Pooling
Providers pool computing resources to serve multiple clients with scalability, efficiency and economy of scale advantages. Physical and virtual resources get assigned dynamically based on demand.
– Rapid Elasticity and Scalability
Capabilities scale out and in quickly and automatically to match usage spikes, customer growth, and workload changes with no disruption. This achieves near real-time scalability.
– Measured Service
Usage gets monitored, reported and billed transparently making costs proportional to consumption rather than based on pre-allocated resources or capacity planning.
It’s delivers compelling advantages including agility, innovation speed, resilience, mobility, sustainability and cash flow benefits. Leading providers offer secure, reliable services spanning infrastructure, platforms, software, storage and much more. With dominant adoption across industries, evaluating cloud options promises operational and economic advantages for most businesses both large and small.
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- What are the drawbacks of cloud computing?There are some potential cloud drawbacks including loss of complete infrastructure control, continual subscription costs vs one-time CapEx, reliance on internet connectivity, multi-cloud complexity challenges, limited custom configurability, and shared security/compliance responsibilities. Also, large legacy migrations can pose unexpected hurdles.
- How do I fund cloud computing?Cloud spending gets funded like a variable monthly operational expense rather than large one-time capital expenditures to purchase hardware and software. Beyond the operating budget, cloud projects can be funded by reallocating or even retiring capital budget dollars spent previously on legacy infrastructure refresh, software upgrades, and data center expansion.
- What are 3 requirements for cloud?The top requirements for cloud computing are fast, reliable connectivity, data security including controls like encryption, and skills/tools to properly configure, integrate, automate and manage cloud services. Meeting compliance mandates for regulations like HIPAA and GDPR is also essential.
- What is cloud encryption?Cloud encryption refers to encoding data at rest, in transit, or in use through cryptographic ciphers so only authorized parties can view plaintext. Leading cloud providers offer encryption key management systems, hardware security modules, and other data protection technologies to complement access controls.