What Is Cloud Computing?
Updated: Oct 27, 2021
Whether you realize it or not, you probably use cloud computing in some form or another every day. Google Gmail, streaming media providers, and file storage apps, such as Dropbox are all cloud-based. With 92 percent of organizations shifting some or all of their IT infrastructure to the cloud, if you use a computer, laptop, or mobile device at work or at home, you’ve used some cloud computing. This shift is expected to continue growing, making cloud computing even more ubiquitous at work and at home.
Much of today’s digital efficiency is made possible by cloud computing. In addition to things like streaming services, email, and online gaming, cloud computing is also used for online check-ins and fraud detection.
Businesses handle a lot of data these days. Data management is a crucial component of most business operations, from protecting data from various threats to sorting it in compliance with government regulations. For this reason, a lot of businesses use cloud computing to handle these intense data management needs.
Cloud computing is used in just about every industry, including:
Manufacturing & Infrastructure
Media & Entertainment
With cloud computing becoming increasingly prevalent, it’s an excellent time to gain an understanding of cloud computing and how it works. Before you start searching for “what is cloud computing definition,” read on to get a better understanding of how it works.
What Is Cloud Computing
Could computing provide on-demand access, through the Internet, to resources such as physical and virtual servers, applications, development tools, data storage, networking capabilities, and more hosted remotely and managed by a cloud services provider (CSP) available with either a monthly subscription or billing based on use.
According to the MIT Technology Review, the term cloud computing was first used in 1996 by a group of Compaq Computers executives as they mapped out the future of their Internet business. The term now refers to a way of storing the data required to run various applications. It also refers to the technology that makes the cloud work. It has been widely adopted and will continue to be because it helps lower the expense of operating and maintaining on-premises servers.
The Basics of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is a combination of technologies that make up a network to deliver computing services. It uses hardware for infrastructure purposes and software for providing on-demand services that are Internet-based. The users of these cloud computing services are not actively involved in the management of the network.
Cloud Computing in Simple Easy to Understand Terms
This may seem very abstract, so if you are wondering what cloud computing is in simple terms, it’s time to break it down a little more. Cloud computing delivers many different services over the Web. These services include software and analytics, secure data storage, online file sharing, and more. Every time someone downloads an image, video, or file, uses a mobile app, watches a web series, listens to a podcast, or plays an online game, these services exist somewhere in digital space, are stored in the cloud, and provided to users on demand.
In addition, cloud computing helps businesses improve productivity and collaboration, resulting in a significant lowering of costs. It also offers enhanced data protection, improved availability, and increased access to advanced, revolutionary technologies.
When you save information to OneDrive or in an email account, it is not the same as storing data on your desktop or smartphone. You need to log in to OneDrive or your email account to access your data, and you can do so from any computer or mobile device with access to the Internet. When your data is stored on your desktop or smartphone, you must be able to access them to retrieve your data.
What Are Cloud Computing Services?
Because your data is stored online, cloud computing lets you access it as well as use online services with any device as long as you have an Internet connection. You are not required to be in any particular location to access the services. With an Internet connection and the right permissions, you can access them anywhere. The cloud would not exist without the Internet, and the Internet would not work as well and would be more costly without cloud services.
Five Components of Cloud Computing
According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), cloud computing consists of five main components, listed below:
On-demand service – the services are available on-demand and paid for by usage, the same way a utility, such as electricity, would bill you. The services are available 24/7, and you are billed only for the ones your company has used at the end of the month. This gives you better control over your IT usage and expenses.
Broad network access – access to data from any location with any device, that connects to the Internet. The infrastructure is made up of several servers at multiple locations that help provide this broad network access.
Resource pooling – several users share the same space, and the resources can be assigned, re-assigned, and distributed as needed. This gives users equal access to resources, no matter where they are located, as long as there is Internet access.
Rapid Elasticity – users and storage can be increased or decreased without affecting current users and their information. This allows businesses to quickly and easily scale up or down when they are experiencing high volume.
Measured Services – use of the services can be measured and paid for either as pay-as-you-use or by subscription, depending on the provider.
What Is Virtualization in Cloud Computing?
However, the term cloud computing also covers the technology used to make the cloud work. This means some type of virtualized IT infrastructure or virtual resources can be shared. The options include servers, storage devices, operating system software, a network, and other infrastructure no matter where the physical hardware and software reside. For instance, one hardware server can be divided into several virtual servers. Virtualization allows cloud providers to make the most use of their data center resources.
What Is a Data Center in Cloud Computing?
A data center in cloud computing is very much like a traditional data center, except that, like other cloud technologies, it is a shared data center. Cloud service providers manage to set up and manage secure, shared data centers for many users and clients. They may even set up multiple data centers in different locations to create redundancy in the event of outages. These data centers adhere to industry standards and strong privacy and security.
What Is a Platform as a Service in Cloud Computing?
A cloud-based platform is an operational computing platform that uses a server’s hardware in an Internet-based data center or location. It allows hardware and software elements to work remotely at a specified scale. A cloud-based platform comprises computing components like servers, Internet intelligence elements, storage, databases, and outsourcing and processing components. These outsourcing and processing elements deliver and enhance computing innovation through adaptable computing resources.
A cloud-based platform as a service (PaaS) offers businesses a complete cloud platform, including infrastructure, hardware, and software.
4 Types of Cloud-Based Platforms & Their Differences
Due to increased and diverse demands on the cloud computing industry, cloud computing solutions are diversified to meet a variety of expectations. Choosing the wrong solutions can be costly and puts your systems at risk. This quick breakdown of the different types of cloud computing will help you select the right solution for your business.
Public Cloud-based Platforms
Public cloud platforms are administered and hosted by public services providers with either a subscription or no charge. They are often a good option for businesses looking for an inexpensive solution. A cloud service vendor will handle all maintenance, administration, and improvement of public cloud systems.
Because public clouds are accessible by many people, you may think there will be security issues when using them. However, they can be more secure than private cloud platforms. Examples of public cloud-based platforms include Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud.
Private Cloud-based Platforms
Private cloud platforms are developed for a single company. Those systems are hosted and managed by internal staff, so an in-house IT department is responsible for the development, maintenance, and management. A private cloud is similar to building an on-site data center.
They often require the same staff, procedures, administration, and technologies and need more resources.
Hybrid Cloud-based Platforms
A hybrid cloud platform uses technologies that facilitate data and application sharing between private and public clouds. When a private cloud cannot process data and information, the business can count on a public cloud to handle their project’s capacity at a lower rate. Therefore, the expense of building, improving, and maintaining servers is eliminated.
Hybrid cloud platforms are good for businesses that deal with highly sensitive data, such as healthcare, government, or finance. This also gives them more flexibility when scaling up or down less regulated projects while meeting industry standards that require storing some confidential data on-premises.
Security protocols on hybrid clouds are considered far superior to those of public and private clouds. Businesses can use disaster recovery capabilities, cyber security features, and more to secure their system. And hybrid cloud architecture is updated regularly to ensure data protection and security.
Multi-cloud Based Platforms
Unlike a hybrid cloud that uses several public and private deployment options, a multi-cloud platform uses several cloud services in a separate but heterogeneous system. This means a business can use different infrastructure service providers for different tasks.
Instead of relying completely on one vendor, they can perform a single job across many providers or perform work with one provider and backup with another. There is no need to coordinate with different vendors to complete these computing workloads.
How Does Cloud Computing Help Your Business?
The concept of data and computers residing in the cloud is relatively recent. Most people and businesses don’t care where their data and processing resources are; they just want to be able to access their applications and data when they need them. So, it is no surprise that many businesses have shifted to the cloud for the delivery of these services so they can maximize use and lower costs.
Businesses prefer cloud computing for three main reasons:
Lowers the cost of IT – by shifting to the cloud, businesses save some of the costs involved in purchasing, installing, and configuring as well as in-house management of on-site infrastructure.
Improves a business’s agility – Instead of waiting weeks or months to use a new application, your business can start using it in just a few minutes. There is no need to wait for IT to respond to the request, purchase and configure any needed hardware and install the software. The cloud also lets you give some users, such as data scientists and developers, access to software and support infrastructure.
Allows businesses to easily and cost-effectively scale – the cloud allows businesses to easily scale up or down as needed, instead of purchasing capacity they don’t use during slower periods. You can also use your cloud provider’s global network to spread applications closer to users throughout the globe.
Offers faster disaster recovery – in every business, there are factors outside your control that can affect business operations. Even the smallest amount of downtime can lead to losses in productivity, revenue, and reputation. Although you may not be able to predict or prevent some disasters that may harm your business, you can help speed your business’s recovery. Cloud-based services offer quick data recovery from all types of emergencies, from power outages to natural disasters.
Improves loss prevention – when all your business data is tied to the office computers in which it resides, you run the risk of permanently losing your data. This is a bigger problem than you might realize since computers are susceptible to viruses, age-related hardware deterioration, and user error. And laptops can be easily stolen or lost in places such as airports.
If you aren’t using the cloud, all the information you have stored locally is at risk. A cloud-based server stores all the information you have uploaded and keeps it safe and easy to access from any computer.
Updates software automatically – there’s nothing more annoying than waiting for system updates to be installed. Cloud-based applications refresh and update automatically instead of requiring an IT department to update the entire system manually. This saves both time and money.
Gives businesses the competitive edge – if you shift to a cloud-computing solution before your competition, you’ll be ahead of the curve before they have a chance to catch up.
If you are interested in a cloud-computing solution for your business, contact Flagler Technologies to learn more about how shifting to the cloud can benefit your business. We offer public, hybrid, and multi-cloud solutions that scale efficiently and provide resources based on changing business demands.