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What is Cloud Computing (in simple terms)?

Google the question, “what is cloud computing?” and you’ll get a sea of articles talking about Azure, AWS, Google Cloud Platform, IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and so much more terminology you may have never heard of before. It’s crazy and intimidating! So, today we’re going to take it back to basics and really dissect just what cloud computing is.

The Fundamentals of Cloud Computing

Firstly, you need to understand cloud computing is storing and accessing data and programs over the internet – instead of your computer’s hard drive. Forget the term cloud, because this isn’t some magical being in the sky, you’re simply connecting to someone else’s computer.

Now, connecting to someone else’s computer doesn’t sound very safe. When I say someone else’s computer, I don’t mean John from down the road, I’m talking about remotely connecting to servers and computing infrastructure. Where a remote connection does not mean wirelessly, but accessing your data or your programs over the internet.

You may not realise it but you’re probably already benefiting from cloud computing. Every time you download an image, binge a Netflix show, or play an online video game, all those services are stored in the cloud and exist in some digital space.

Types of Cloud Solutions

There are two main types of cloud solutions (cloud computing services) which are called the public and private clouds. When a cloud computing provider gives you some of their digital architecture that you share with other tenants, it’s public. Whereas private cloud solutions only belong to you and your business. So, if you have a dedicated server for your business it’s private, but if you share the server with other users it’s under the public cloud. There are also hybrid cloud solutions which combine features of the public and private clouds.

Within these cloud solutions are services. Cloud service providers offer different types of service. Currently, the three most common cloud models are: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS).

  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) refers to the fundamental building blocks of computing that can be rented: physical or virtual servers, storage and networking. This is attractive to companies that want to build applications from the very ground up and want to control nearly all the elements themselves.
  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is the next layer up: as well as the underlying storage, networking, and virtual servers this will also include the tools and software for developers to build applications with.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) are ready-to-use applications that are accessed online via subscription, known as on-demand software, which is perhaps easiest to comprehend with the examples of streaming services in mind.

Learn more about cloud implementation with infrastructure as code.

How Secure is The Cloud?

Given the shared nature of the public cloud, security is a primary concern for people looking into cloud computing. If the hardware is shared and accessible, then fear of outages, loss or theft is understandable. So, what security is in place?

Firstly, public cloud storage and compute resources are guarded by login credentials. Only people with the correct username and password(s) can access your section of the server. For further reassurance, data encryption and various identity and access management tools have improved security within the public cloud.

The Benefits of Cloud Computing

The advantages of cloud computing are endless. They are impossible to fully document and will differ from company to company. What we regularly see if categories of benefits, like the ones laid out below.

  • Flexibility: access and make changes to your cloud solution any time and anywhere. You don’t need to be in the office or the data centre.
  • Disaster recovery: pre-built fail-over scenarios are implemented so that if there is a flood or power cut, you’re office business doesn’t suffer, it just follows your backup plan.
  • Scalability: scales up or down as you grow and flex. There is no need for long term contracts for servers and hardware on site as you move to an “As-a-Service” mode.
  • No maintenance: you are using the cloud services but you are not responsible for them. Your per month charges include all maintenance.
  • Cost: over time, your return will become obvious. You find yourself never purchasing hardware again and only using what you consume.
  • Collaboration: – adoption of the cloud opens the door to collaboration.

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