You have probably heard or come across the term “the cloud” before but what does it mean? Well, wonder no more. The cloud or cloud computing simply refers to the act of storing, managing and processing data online. It describes the delivery of computing services be it storage, databases, servers, software applications and more over the internet.
The services are provided online as opposed to doing them on your own physical computer or network. Cloud computing heavily relies on sharing of resources. This helps in achieving coherence and economies of scale. To put it simply, sharing these online resources helps data and other services become easily and cheaply available to everyone.
Types of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing has steadily grown in popularity. With an overwhelming increase in the number of users, different models have been developed so as to meet the specific needs of different users. There are three types of cloud computing sometimes called the cloud computing stack as the three of them build on top of one another. These distinct types of cloud computing are service models that let you choose how the information you provide will be handled thereby granting you different levels of control, flexibility, and management of the online resources.
The first model is called Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). It is used primarily for Internet-based access to storage and computing power. IaaS lets you rent IT infrastructures such as servers, virtual machines, operating systems, networks, and storage. This service is charged on a pay as you go basis.
The second type is Platform as a Service (PaaS). This model gives developers tools to build and host web-based applications. It is designed for developers who need access to components they require to develop web and mobile applications over the internet swiftly. The developers are not burdened with setting up and managing the underlying framework of servers, databases, and networks.
The third and final type is Software as a Service (SaaS). This type is used in web-based applications to allow the delivery of software applications over the internet. A good example of software as a service is when you have access to the same software application over different devices. Saas is the model responsible for hosting and managing your applications making them more easily accessed over the cloud.
How does cloud computing work?
Well, the principle underlying is very simple as we shall now explain with an example. Assuming you are an executive in a corporation and one of your responsibilities include ensuring that all your workers have the right tools, i.e. software and hardware to do their job. Equipping them would involve buying computers and purchasing a software license for whatever kind of work they will be doing. For a large number of employees, this would be hectic. New computers would need to be bought together with new software licenses.
Cloud computing has revolutionized all these by providing a simple solution. Instead of installing all that software, you would only need to load one application that would allow you to access a web-based service that hosts all the programs that the user would need. These remote machines owned by a different company would proceed to do the job required ranging from simple tasks such as emailing to running complex data analysis programs.
That is how cloud computing works. It is revolutionary because unlike before, end-users computers no longer have to do the heavy lifting. The cloud computing system does all the work. The only thing required by the employee’s computer is to run the cloud’s interface software.
Uses of Cloud Computing
The applications of cloud computing are just beginning to be grasped. The uses are quite frankly limitless. A normal computer is now able to handle a wide range of tasks and does not have to meet the system requirement needed to do all the work. Very many people may have already interacted with cloud computing without even knowing it.
One of the common main applications is in file storage. Cloud services can allow you to store your files online and be able to access and retrieve them anytime using a web-based interface. Cloud computing ensures that your files are highly available, quickly accessible and are secure. People and organization store their files here, only pay for the amount of storage space they use and do not have to worry about maintenance of the infrastructure.
Another common use is big data analysis. Cloud computing is able to process large quantities of both structured and unstructured data and provide useful information from it. You may have heard about this from retail giants who extract information from consumer purchasing patterns and target them with specialized advertising campaigns.
Cloud computing can also be used for backup. It reduces the inherent problems that were associated with backing up such as maintaining a set of tapes, manually gathering them and storing them in a backup site. Cloud computing can now handle this automatically letting data to be dispatched easily and securely to your online storage of choice. Additional uses include testing and development of different software, as well as, disaster recovery.
Benefits of Cloud Computing
The benefits of cloud computing are numerous and organizations are now turning to the online services for the benefits it has on business operations. Here are some of the reasons why. First, users are able to access their files and applications from any location and at any time. On the other hand, organizations no longer need to have advanced hardware as cloud computing systems reduce the need. Moreover, additional physical space that would otherwise be taken up by servers and digital storage devices are now a thing of the past. Finally, organizations that need intensive computer calculations can leverage cloud computing’s huge processing power.