Cloud computing is a general term for the delivery of hosted services over the internet.
Cloud computing enables companies to consume a compute resource, such as a virtual machine (VMs), storage or an application, as a utility — just like electricity — rather than having to build and maintain computing infrastructures in house.
Cloud computing boasts several attractive benefits for businesses and end users. Three of the main benefits of cloud computing are:
Self-service provisioning: End users can spin up compute resources for almost any type of workload on demand. This eliminates the traditional need for IT administrators to provision and manage compute resources.
Elasticity: Companies can scale up as computing needs increase and scale down again as demands decrease. This eliminates the need for massive investments in local infrastructure which may or may not remain active.
Pay per use: Compute resources are measured at a granular level, allowing users to pay only for the resources and workloads they use.
Cloud computing deployment models:
Cloud computing services can be private, public or hybrid.
Private cloud services are delivered from a business’ data center to internal users. This model offers versatility and convenience, while preserving the management, control and security common to local data centers. Internal users may or may not be billed for services through IT chargeback.
In the public cloud model, a third-party provider delivers the cloud service over the internet. Public cloud services are sold on demand, typically by the minute or hour. Customers only pay for the CPU cycles, storage or bandwidth they consume. Leading public cloud providers include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, IBM SoftLayer and Google Compute Engine.
Hybrid cloud is a combination of public cloud services and on-premises private cloud — with orchestration and automation between the two. Companies can run mission-critical workloads or sensitive applications on the private cloud while using the public cloud for bursting workloads that must scale on demand. The goal of hybrid cloud is to create a unified, automated, scalable environment that takes advantage of all that a public cloud infrastructure can provide while still maintaining control over mission-critical data.
Cloud computing service categories:
Although cloud computing has changed over time, it has been divided into three broad service categories: infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS).
Software as a service (SaaS):
Cloud-based applications—or software as a service—run on distant computers “in the cloud” that are owned and operated by others and that connect to users’ computers via the internet and, usually, a web browser.
The benefits of SaaS:
You can sign up and rapidly start using innovative business apps.
Apps and data are accessible from any connected computer.
No data is lost if your computer breaks, as data is in the cloud.
The service is able to dynamically scale to usage needs.
Platform as a service (PaaS):
Platform as a service provides a cloud-based environment with everything required to support the complete lifecycle of building and delivering web-based (cloud) applications—without the cost and complexity of buying and managing the underlying hardware, software, provisioning, and hosting.
The benefits of PaaS:
Develop applications and get to market faster.
Deploy new web applications to the cloud in minutes.
Reduce complexity with middleware as a service.
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS):
Infrastructure as a service provides companies with computing resources including servers, networking, storage, and data center space on a pay-per-use basis.
The benefits of IaaS:
No need to invest in your own hardware.
Infrastructure scales on demand to support dynamic workloads.
Flexible, innovative services available on demand.
Cloud computing security:
Security remains a primary concern for businesses contemplating cloud adoption — especially public cloud adoption. Public cloud providers share their underlying hardware infrastructure between numerous customers, as public cloud is a multi-tenant environment. This environment demands copious isolation between logical compute resources. At the same time, access to public cloud storage and compute resources is guarded by account logon.
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