What is cloud computing?
The amount of data that companies must manage is on the rise. With more data, it’s more difficult for companies to store and manage it all themselves — especially because they need to be on-site at their data centers to access the information. Instead, many companies have switched to cloud computing. Cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of computing services — like servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence — over the Internet, which is also referred to as the cloud. Companies typically only pay for the cloud services they need, as they need them.
In this article about cloud computing, you’ll learn:
Benefits of cloud computing
Cloud computing is a major shift in how IT resources are used, but with major benefits. The main benefits of cloud computing are:
Cloud computing removes the cost of buying and maintaining the hardware and software that make up a company’s data center. Instead of investing in racks of servers, electricity for power and cooling, and a team of IT experts, cloud computing allows you to only pay for the resources you need as you use them.
Because cloud computing services are on demand, you can quickly get the resources you need in just a few minutes without the need for IT administrators to be involved. This includes infrastructure resources like computing, storage, and databases, as well as Internet of Things, machine learning, data lakes and analytics, and more.
The cloud allows you to quickly expand globally to new geographic locations. As needs change in these locations, you can deliver just the right level of IT resources — such as more or less computing power, storage, or bandwidth — from geographic computing service locations.
Cloud computing allows you to provision the resources you’ll actually need — instead of having to forecast ahead of time. As your business flows through peak levels of activity, you can scale these resources up or down to meet your needs.
On-site data centers require teams to do time-consuming IT management chores like hardware setup and software patching. Cloud computing removes the need for these chores, allowing IT teams to focus on more important business goals.
Cloud providers can mirror data at multiple redundant sites, making data backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity easier and less expensive.
Many cloud providers offer a broad set of policies, technologies, and controls that help protect your data, apps, and infrastructure from potential threats.
Types of cloud services
Not all cloud services are the same. Each type provides different levels of control, flexibility, and management to meet your business needs. The four main types of cloud services are:
As the most basic option, an infrastructure cloud service provides access to resources such as networking features, servers, operating systems, and data storage space. It enables the highest level of flexibility and control over your IT resources.
Companies that need an on-demand environment for developing, testing, delivering, and managing software applications should use a platform cloud service. It allows you to focus on quickly creating mobile apps or websites without needing to set up or manage the underlying infrastructure of servers, storage, network, and databases needed for development.
As the most comprehensive option, a software cloud service allows you to deliver software applications over the Internet. Service providers host and manage the software application and underlying infrastructure and handle any maintenance, like software upgrades and security patching. That way, you can focus on how your business can use that software.
With a serverless cloud service, you can build app functionality without needing to continually manage the servers and infrastructure — the cloud provider handles the setup, capacity planning, and server management for you. This type of cloud service is highly scalable and event-driven, meaning that it only uses resources when specific functions or triggers happen.
Types of cloud deployment
While cloud computing services refer to the types of services offered by providers, there is also a variety of ways to deploy these services depending on the requirements, preferences, and constraints of your IT infrastructure and data.
A public cloud is owned and operated by a third-party cloud service provider. While they manage all hardware, software, and other supporting infrastructure, you can access these services using a web browser.
Because a private cloud is used exclusively by a single organization, it allows for greater control over data and infrastructure because it’s maintained on a private network. A private cloud may be physically located in the company’s on-site data center or hosted by a third-party provider.
A hybrid cloud allows data to flow between public and private clouds. This deployment option gives you greater flexibility to keep sensitive data secure in a private cloud while using a public cloud to store less sensitive data during peak demand periods.
How to use cloud computing
Cloud computing is all around us. No matter the size, organizations in all industries can use it to manage their data and applications. What varies is how these organizations use cloud computing to meet their business goals.
Create cloud-native applications
Cloud computing allows teams to quickly build, deploy, and scale applications. Many organizations take advantage of cloud-native applications such as containers, microservices architecture, and API-driven communication.
Test and build applications
Running tests or building applications can require significant computing power at certain stages of application development. Because cloud infrastructures can be easily scaled up and down, organizations use them to develop applications faster and for lower costs.
Store, back up, and recover data
It’s more cost-efficient for organizations to store the massive quantities of data they have in the cloud. And when they need it, cloud storage is accessible from any location and on any device.
When data is unified in the cloud, it’s accessible to all teams across an organization. It also means you can use cloud services such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to uncover more complete insights.
Stream audio and video
Streaming can require significant amounts of processing power and bandwidth. By using cloud computing to stream audio and video to your customers, you can automatically scale resources to make sure their experience is smooth and uninterrupted.
By embedding intelligence models into your cloud computing, organizations can analyze their data more efficiently and securely while using just the right amount of resources. When a company’s data is all unified in the cloud, it can also create more valuable insights and engage customers better.
Deliver software on demand
On-demand software, which is typically delivered by a software cloud service, allows organizations to offer the latest software versions and updates to their customers — wherever they are, any time they need.
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A secure and scalable foundation
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