A lot of people ask us, What is cloud computing in simple terms? So today, we have decided to do justice to it.
- 1 So, what is cloud computing in simple terms?
- 2 How does cloud computing work?
- 3 What cloud computing services are available?
- 4 Benefits of cloud computing.
- 5 Advantages and disadvantages of cloud computing.
- 6 You might also be interested in:
So, what is cloud computing in simple terms?
Cloud computing is the delivery of on-demand computing services — from applications to storage and processing power, typically over the internet and on a pay-as-you-go basis.
How does cloud computing work?
Rather than owning their computing infrastructure or data centres, companies can rent access to anything from applications to storage from a cloud service provider.
One benefit of using cloud computing services is that firms can avoid the upfront cost and complexity of owning and maintaining their own IT infrastructure, and instead simply pay for what they use when they use it.
In turn, providers of cloud computing services can benefit from significant economies of scale by delivering the same services to a wide range of customers.
What cloud computing services are available?
Cloud computing services cover a vast range of options now, from the basics of storage, networking, and processing power through to natural language processing and artificial intelligence as well as standard office applications. Pretty much any service that doesn’t require you to be physically close to the computer hardware that you are using can now be delivered via the cloud.
What are examples of cloud computing?
Cloud computing underpins a vast number of services. That includes consumer services like Gmail or the cloud backup of the photos on your smartphone, though to the services which allow large enterprises to host all their data and run all of their applications in the cloud. Netflix relies on cloud computing services to run its video streaming service and its other business systems too, and have a number of other organisations.
Cloud computing is becoming the default option for many apps: software vendors are increasingly offering their applications as services over the internet rather than standalone products as they try to switch to a subscription model. However, there is a potential downside to cloud computing, in that it can also introduce new costs and new risks for companies using it.
Benefits of cloud computing.
The exact benefits will vary according to the type of cloud service being used but, fundamentally, using cloud services means companies not having to buy or maintain their computing infrastructure.
No more buying servers, updating applications or operating systems, or decommissioning and disposing of hardware or software when it is out of date, as it is all taken care of by the supplier. For commodity applications, such as email, it can make sense to switch to a cloud provider, rather than rely on in-house skills. A company that specializes in running and securing these services is likely to have better skills and more experienced staff than a small business could afford to hire, so cloud services may be able to deliver a more secure and efficient service to end-users.
Using cloud services means companies can move faster on projects and test out concepts without lengthy procurement and big upfront costs because firms only pay for the resources they consume. This concept of business agility is often mentioned by cloud advocates as a key benefit. The ability to spin up new services without the time and effort associated with traditional IT procurement should mean that is easier to get going with new applications faster. And if a new application turns out to be wildly popular the elastic nature of the cloud means it is easier to scale it up fast.
Advantages and disadvantages of cloud computing.
Cloud computing is not necessarily cheaper than other forms of computing, just as renting is not always cheaper than buying in the long term. If an application has a regular and predictable requirement for computing services it may be more economical to provide that service in-house.
Some companies may be reluctant to host sensitive data in a service that is also used by rivals. Moving to a SaaS application may also mean you are using the same applications as a rival, which may make it hard to create any competitive advantage if that application is core to your business.
While it may be easy to start using a new cloud application, migrating existing data or apps to the cloud may be much more complicated and expensive. And it seems there is now something of a shortage in cloud skills with staff with DevOps and multi-cloud monitoring and management knowledge in, particularly short supply.
What is a public cloud?
Public cloud is the classic cloud computing model, where users can access a large pool of computing power over the internet (whether that is IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS). One of the significant benefits here is the ability to rapidly scale a service. The cloud computing suppliers have vast amounts of computing power, which they share out between a large number of customers — the ‘multi-tenant’ architecture. Their huge scale means they have enough spare capacity that they can easily cope if any particular customer needs more resources, which is why it is often used for less-sensitive applications that demand a varying amount of resources.
What is a private cloud?
Private cloud allows organizations to benefit from some of the advantages of public cloud — but without the concerns about relinquishing control over data and services because it is tucked away behind the corporate firewall. Companies can control exactly where their data is being held and can build the infrastructure in a way they want — largely for IaaS or PaaS projects — to give developers access to a pool of computing power that scales on-demand without putting security at risk. However, that additional security comes at a cost, as few companies will have the scale of AWS, Microsoft or Google, which means they will not be able to create the same economies of scale. Still, for companies that require additional security, the private cloud may be a useful stepping stone, helping them to understand cloud services or rebuild internal applications for the cloud, before shifting them into the public cloud.
What is a hybrid cloud?
A hybrid cloud is perhaps where everyone is in reality: a bit of this, a bit of that. Some data in the public cloud, some projects in a private cloud, multiple vendors and different levels of cloud usage. According to research by TechRepublic, the main reasons for choosing a hybrid cloud include disaster recovery planning and the desire to avoid hardware costs when expanding their existing data center.