Cloud Computing allows organizations to make scalable apps and store data at low costs. Learn the basics today to see why Cloud Computing is so popular.
What Is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is the delivery of computing services over the Internet, in the cloud, to allow for faster, flexible, and scalable services and strategies.
It’s apparent to all who pay attention that the technological innovations of our time, especially within this past decade, have been careening toward a similar culmination. We now have the capability of fulfilling dated science-fiction fantasies, bringing practicality to seemingly impractical ideas. Computers that fit into your pocket, household appliances that can be controlled with your voice, AI technology in its primitive forms.
It’s a fascination with disconnection. Control over our surroundings without the need for wires, plugs, and cables anchoring us. Soon enough, we’ll have levitating cars, functional holographic technology, anything that bears a unique separation from traditional, grounded technology. A frontrunner of this trend, perhaps being the most significant of all, would be cloud computing.
Traditional data centers are physical - they have on-premise sites where hardware stores a company’s information and key systems. Cloud computing is designed to sever that necessity by allowing organizations to access programs and data online “in the cloud” rather than directly from the computer hard drive.
Without being nailed down to a single location, cloud computing opens up a world of opportunities while managing to cut costs simultaneously. Among these general benefits offered by cloud computing includes being cost effective, scalable, and being flexible to work with, though that’s only to name a few. On-premise sites may still reign as the main curators of information, and they aren’t without their unique benefits, but cloud computing is rapidly growing as the next obvious successor.
The 3 Types of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing itself may contain the sum of its parts, but there’s no one type that will benefit every business. Depending on the kind of organization you run, you may be enticed by three distinct types of cloud computing: public, private, or hybrid. As you can imagine, they serve their own purposes, so it’s wise to understand what type of cloud computing you’ll use if you want it to effectively mesh with how you run your company.
You’re already keenly familiar with the work of the public cloud, considering nearly everyone who uses the internet regularly interact with one site or another that uses its services. A public cloud is distinguished by being run by a third-party provider. Amazon, Google, Microsoft, these and others are purveyors of cloud computing technologies for other organizations to take advantage of.
Being publicly available results multiple third-party users establishing a server that is shared between groups or people. Thousands upon thousands of clients share the server, using the same hardware, network, tools, and resources. Gmail is one instance of this type of cloud, wherein you may have your own account protected by a password, but you’re a part of a network shared by many others.
The biggest two names among public cloud providers are Azure and AWS, services provided by Microsoft and Amazon respectively. Public clouds are often popular due to their ease of use and accessibility, being openly available from large tech names. Using a public cloud is highly encouraged if you’re looking for low cost, no maintenance, and expect high usefulness for scalability. However, since you’re using a piece of public infrastructure and network, there’s overall less security for sensitive data.
If you’re running a business that needs more security in how it handles its data, such as a law firm or medical office, you’ll want to opt for a private cloud. These are the most secure types of cloud services as the server is dedicated to a single organization or business, rather than being open to multiple clients. Restricting access to who is using the cloud helps protect sensitive data from being leaked or unlawfully accessed.
These clouds are generally found on the company’s physical location or by a third-party service provider, the level of care and maintenance being dependent on where the server is. With third-party services, the providers that supply the server dedicate hardware and a network specifically for a client when they are being used as a private cloud provider.
The main benefits provided by a private cloud are, obviously, a higher level of security, while also still retaining easily scalable resources. Abiding by this protective level of security is primarily the only way for prospective clients to meet state and federal guidelines for data control. However, due to this amount of restriction, private clouds are typically unable to handle the same volume and stresses that a public cloud can.
Judging by name alone, chances are you’ve got some idea of what this type of cloud is. Hybrid clouds are a fusion of both private and public cloud services, bridging the best of both worlds in a single cloud. By taking advantage of hybrid clouds, providers can offer secure solutions like private clouds while keeping less critical assets placed in a public cloud. Separating the load of site management between the separate clouds helps alleviate the load of the private side of the cloud.
There’s also a practice known as “Cloud Bursting” that may occur at some point in the span of a company’s existence. The process follows that a company will keep a particular asset on a private cloud, guaranteeing control and privacy, until the volume of users spikes. Once it reaches this point, the organization will move the asset to a public cloud, reducing the stress on the private cloud, preserving integrity and effectiveness.
Cloud Computing Services
The type of cloud computers only covers purposes, responsibilities, strengths, weaknesses, that sort of thing. Cloud computing services, by extension, are a separate entity which govern how cloud computing is provided to clients. These services are split into three classifications: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS).
These individually distinct services offer different pros and cons relative to each other between costs, scalability, time investment, and capabilities. Just like when you’re choosing the type of cloud computing you’re working with, you should research and compare between the different services to determine which best fits your company’s use.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS is serving as a platform best suited for flexible, client-controlled infrastructure for a business model. These services are fully customizable, generally mediated by using available resources to help expand, edit, and control an organization’s site. It offers services like storage, networking, servers, and processing power, all readily available and dependent on what the client wants.
The virtue of this type of service is it’s high flexibility. In comparison to other services, it’s the most flexible cloud computing model, providing the clients with complete control over their own infrastructure. By extension, the cost of this model is dependent on what resources the client uses, which makes it highly scalable as the business expands.
Cloud computing services like Digital Ocean and Magento 1 Enterprise Edition are well known IaaS providers. Depending on how many resources your business plans to use, your overall cost will be dependent on what you consume.
There are drawbacks, however. While you may be in complete control over what resources your organization utilizes, which a tempting offer alone, IaaS isn’t known for its airtight security measures. Data communication may be exposed through system vulnerabilities. You may also find difficulty in running legacy programs, which may need minor enhancements to properly accommodate the new system.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Rather than delivering a full service to accommodate a client’s needs, PaaS cloud computing services only provide the platform necessary to build upon and create customized apps. These are, essentially, frameworks provided to clients over the internet to give them a foundation. This way, all the clients need to focus on is the software itself without having to worry about infrastructure, operating systems, or software updates.
Without having to contend with maintaining the infrastructure and other related elements, developers are given freedom of movement in regards to the construction of the apps themselves. Overall, yes, there is a definitive decrease in how much control you have over your own app, but that much is compensated for by allowing you to focus your attention on the quality and performance of the app itself.
PaaS is built with specially designed components designed to assist software developers with the construction of their app. These middleware components retain the desirable scalable and availability required to build an effective, reliable application. Services like Google App Engine and Windows Azure are notable PaaS providers.
PaaS does have its own fair share of issues. Data security comes under scrutiny, as data resides in third-party, vendor-controlled cloud servers, reliant on measures you have no control over to keep your app security safe. It also lacks the same customizability that other services, like IaaS, have. Once you commit to a PaaS solution, migrating to alternative PaaS options in the future may prove difficult.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Among the cloud computing services available, SaaS is by far the most commonly utilized on the market. While it lacks that same versatility and control that the other options possess, its direct availability through the web browser makes it a comfortable and easy choice for businesses, as they don’t require downloads or installations for the client to use.
Since SaaS is done through the web browser, everything offered by the service is readily available online. IT staff doesn’t need to intervene to guarantee that your employees have everything downloaded in order to make full use of the service. Without being forced to manage, maintain, and update your software constantly, your company reduces the overall time spent on tedious work, allocating resources better spent elsewhere.
Without being shouldered with excess responsibility usually seen in more freely controlled services like PaaS and IaaS, shifting your time and focus on more pressing matters can be readily accomplished. If your business doesn’t need to fully control everything that happens in the backend of your infrastructure, then there’s no need to go through the extra trouble.
SaaS may be comparatively “easier” than other software services, and have proven services like Dropbox and Google Apps to be invaluable, but sacrificing control isn’t for everyone. Integration of apps tends to run into a bumpy road if the SaaS app isn’t designed to handle it properly. SaaS also lacks customization, vendor lock-in, and a greater lack of overall control may also haunt your organization if you aren’t prepared for it. There’s no such thing as a perfect easy route; everything comes at one cost or another.
You’re guaranteed options when it comes to shifting your business over to the cloud, but properly choosing which option is best for you is entirely dependent on what type of business you’re running. That may seem obvious, but this is a big decision; there’s no such thing as being overly cautious here.
Starting with types of cloud computing, you’ve got three options: public, private, and hybrid. Public cloud computing is the most common of the three, easily hosted for the types of businesses that value easy access with high scalability. Private clouds, by comparison, are much more secure, and generally best accessed by companies that need to secure sensitive data. Finally, hybrid clouds merge the best of the other two, combining the availability of the public cloud with the security of the private.
Once you’ve got your cloud computing type, the next question is how it’s going to be hosted. Once again, the rule of three comes into play: IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. Each possess their own pros and cons, ranging from freedom of control to integration of legacy apps to security of data. With IaaS, you’re going to have the most control and flexibility, but that makes it an overall harder service to learn and properly use. PaaS is the middle ground, providing a platform to start on without worrying too much about infrastructure. SaaS, by comparison, is the easiest service to grasp, but tends to be somewhat more vulnerable than its peers.
If you’re interested in learning more about how adopting cloud computing can benefit your company, you may want to read up on our “What Is Cloud Adoption” article. If you already have a cloud project in mind and need a hand to get started, Contact The Nearshore Software Development Company iTexico to learn more about how we can help.