"If someone asks me what cloud computing is, I try not to get bogged down by definitions. I tell them that, simply put, cloud computing is a better way to run your business!” – Marc Benioff, Founder, CEO, and Chairman of Salesforce.
Clouds today are so much more than bringers of rain and pleasant weather. All over the IT world for the last decade, the cloud has been a very important and massive part of technology. Cloud computing is one of the defining IT technologies amongst technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Internet of Things, Robotic Process Automation, Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality. We’ve all heard about the cloud, and it is likely most of us use the cloud in one way or the other at a personal level – be it Dropbox or iCloud services (such as iCloud email sync). The true power of the cloud is at the enterprise level, and that is what is truly fascinating! As of 2018, the cloud services industry was worth a massive $182.4 billion! As per estimates, Gartner Forecasts Public Cloud Services in the Middle East and North Africa to Grow 21% in 2020 (Source: Gartner Press Release February 2020)
Cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—including servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence—over the Internet (“the cloud”) to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale. You typically pay only for cloud services you use, helping lower your operating costs, run your infrastructure more efficiently and scale as your business needs change.” (Source: Microsoft Azure).
In other words, the cloud does away with local hardware requirements. Maintaining a server can be tedious and quite difficult for a corporation. The hardware and maintenance itself can increase the cost quite rapidly. With cloud computing, the user needs to pay only for the part of the cloud he is using. The burden of the physical server, security, maintenance, etc. are all up to the service provider!
Public Cloud: A public cloud is a platform that uses the standard cloud computing model to make resources, such as virtual machines (VMs), applications, or storage, available to users remotely. Public cloud services may be free or offered through a variety of subscription or on-demand pricing schemes, including a pay-per-usage model.
Some public cloud examples include those offered by Amazon, Microsoft, or Google. These companies provide both services and infrastructure, which are shared by all customers. Public clouds typically have massive amounts of available space, which translates into easy scalability. A public cloud is often recommended for software development and collaborative projects. Companies can design their applications to be portable so that a project that’s tested in the public cloud can be moved to the private cloud for production. Most cloud providers package their computing resources as part of a service. Public cloud examples range from access to a completely virtualized infrastructure that provides little more than raw processing power and storage (Infrastructure as a Service, or IaaS) to specialized software programs that are easy to implement and use (Software as a Service, or SaaS).
Private Cloud: Private clouds usually reside behind a firewall and are utilized by a single organization. A completely on-premises cloud may be the preferred solution for businesses with very tight regulatory requirements, though private clouds implemented through a colocation provider are gaining in popularity. Authorized users can access, utilize, and store data in the private cloud from anywhere, just like they could with a public cloud. The difference is that no one else can access or utilize those computing resources. Private cloud solutions offer both security and control, but these benefits come at a cost. The company that owns the cloud is responsible for both software and infrastructure, making this a less economical model than the public cloud.
Hybrid Cloud: Hybrid clouds combine public clouds with private clouds. They are designed to allow the two platforms to interact seamlessly, with data and applications moving seamlessly from one to the other.
The primary advantage of a hybrid cloud model is its ability to provide the scalable computing power of a public cloud with the security and control of a private cloud. Data can be stored safely behind the firewalls and encryption protocols of the private cloud, then moved securely into a public cloud environment when needed. This is especially helpful in the age of big data analytics when industries like healthcare must adhere to strict data privacy regulations while also using sophisticated algorithms powered by artificial intelligence (AI) to derive actionable insights from huge masses of unstructured data.
There are two commonly used types of hybrid cloud architecture. Cloud bursting uses a private cloud as its primary cloud, storing data and housing proprietary applications in a secure environment. When service demands increase, however, the private cloud’s infrastructure may not have the capacity to keep up. That’s where the public cloud comes in. A cloud bursting model uses the public cloud’s computing resources to supplement the private cloud, allowing the company to handle increased traffic without having to purchase new servers or other infrastructure.
The second type of hybrid cloud model also runs most applications and houses data in a private cloud environment but outsources non-critical applications to a public cloud provider. This arrangement is common for organizations that need to access specialized development tools (like Adobe Creative Cloud), basic productivity software (like Microsoft Office 365), or CRM platforms (like Salesforce). Multi-cloud architecture is often deployed here, incorporating multiple cloud service providers to meet a variety of unique organizational needs.
There are 3 types of cloud services – Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Serverless Computing and Software as a Service (SaaS).
Let’s take a simple example. A young entrepreneur named Jane wants to start an online business. So, she sets up a server from her home on her own computer and takes the required initial steps. Quickly, traffic picks up and her personal computer is unable to handle this sudden increase! Now, she buys a server configuration, hardware and sets it up. All is well for a few weeks until the server reaches capacity. Her venture is growing quickly, and she is keeping up the work and employing staff to help her, but the server issue is a bottleneck to traffic. What can she do? She is forced to buy another server unit. As these units increase in number, she must provide cooling for them to run even in the summer! She is also facing the difficulty of complying with the latest server protocols, keeping on top of the fastest server settings and making sure none of her server’s malfunction! For this, she must now hire a team to look after her servers. At this point, a Cloud Solutions company reaches out to her. They tell her that she can ditch her private infrastructure and all the related costs. Instead, they will simply move all her data onto their cloud platform and take care of the cloud management for a fee! This is an ideal solution for Jane because not only will this reduce costs but will allow her to focus her energies on her core work!
In any IT environment, a cloud is strictly considered an upgrade over traditional options. Cloud storage provides the following massive advantages:
Here are some of the popular cloud service providers:
The adoption of cloud services is the way forward for any industry in the IT field in the 21st century. Offline data centers will soon be obsolete, and it is paramount that companies keep up with the current trends. The cloud is faster, safer, more secure, cheaper and simply a more efficient solution for businesses to adopt. There is a massive global market for cloud services with many competitors, including big names like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Alibaba as well as specialized cloud companies all vying to deliver the best possible solutions for end-users!