Cloud Computing: What is it, how does it work and what are its benefits?

In our advancing society, technology is inevitably moving to the cloud. Almost everything in the digital world is connected to the cloud in some way or another. Over the last 10 years, traditional software models have been pushed to the side to make room for cloud solutions. Looking ahead, the sky is the limit for cloud computing and the businesses that take advantage of it.

What is Cloud Computing?

In simple terms, could computing is the storing and on-demand access to data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive. Cloud computing allows you to access your data and programs outside of your own computing environment, freeing up the memory and computing power of individual computers. Rather than storing your data and software on your personal computer or server, it is stored in ‘the cloud’. This creates a flexible and global way of accessing your data at any time, in any place.

Cloud computing is a more efficient way of delivering computing resources. With cloud computing, software and service environments are subscription-based — users pay a monthly fee instead of buying licenses. Software and platforms are managed by the providers and are constantly updated for maximum performance and security. Computing power is remote instead of centralized, so users can scale up or down depending on the business fluctuation. Multiple people can access a shared program or file and collaborate in real-time from different locations.

Now that we know more about the cloud, let’s dive deeper into how it works and how it benefits businesses.

How Does it Work?

There are three main types of cloud computing service models:

Software as a Service (SaaS)

SaaS is the most common method of cloud computing for small businesses and accounts for 24% of all enterprise workloads. Instead of installing and maintaining software, you simply access it from the Internet, freeing yourself from complex software and hardware management. The software application host controls and maintains the application, including security, availability and performance. You, as a user, have limited control over the application and configuration settings.

An example of SaaS would be Gmail, a web-based mail service. When using Gmail, you are not hosting your own email server; Google hosts it and you are simply accessing it through your browser.

Other examples: Other google apps, Office 365, Netflix, Hubspot, Dropbox

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

IaaS is the basic layer in cloud computing and accounts for about 12% of all enterprise workloads. IaaS offers a cloud-based alternative to on-site infrastructure, which allows for businesses to avoid investing in expensive on-premise resources. With IaaS you are able to buy the amount of storage that you need, as you need it, and purchase more when you expand.

Examples: Amazon EC2, Rackspace and Windows Azure

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

PaaS could be described as a crossover between SaaS and Iaas. PaaS accounts for about 32% of all enterprise workloads and is only expected to grow. A PaaS provider offers software and hardware tools via the Internet in which people use to develop applications. Most PaaS users tend to be developers who are building software or applications. Essentially it means that these developers don’t have to start from scratch when creating apps, saving them a lot of time and money.

Examples: AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Windows Azure, Heroku, salesforce, Google App Engine, Apache Stratos

Depending on your needs, your business could use one of these service models or a mixture of the 3.

Benefits

When you use a cloud computing service, your data becomes remote. This minimizes the need to manually do software updates, computer upgrades, and other IT maintenance services on your internal systems. Because your in-house systems become virtual, the need for data management at your business continuity and stop at nothing to ensure your business has all that it needs to operate at its best. Other benefits of our cloud computing system include:

Cost-efficient

Switching to cloud computing could greatly reduce the cost over time of managing and maintaining your IT systems. Rather than purchasing expensive systems and equipment for your business, you can decrease your costs by using the resources of a cloud computing service provider. Your operating costs could decrease because of:

  • Included costs – System upgrades, new hardware and software may be included in your contract
  • No need to pay wages for IT staff
  • Energy consumption costs may be reduced
  • Less time delays

Scalability

Scalability is probably the greatest benefit of the cloud. Different companies have different IT requirements; a large enterprise of 1,000 employees won’t have the same IT needs as a small company of 100 employees. Cloud computing is a great solution because you are able to quickly and efficiently scale up/down your operation and storage needs to suit your situation, allowing flexibility as your business needs change.

Data Security

It is safe to say that for every business, regardless of industry or size, a data breach is the biggest fear. Data breaches and other cybercrimes can deeply devastate a company in revenue, customer loyalty and brand positioning.

Cloud computing offers many advanced security features that guarantee data is securely stored and protected.

Cloud computing providers implement baseline protections for their platforms and the data they process, such authentication, access control and encryption. From there, most providers enhance these protections with added security measures of their own to boost data protection and tighten access to sensitive information in the cloud.

Disaster Recovery

Along with data security, data loss is a major concern for all organizations. Storing your data in the cloud guarantees that data is always available, even if your devices like laptops or computers are damaged. Cloud-based services provide speedy data recovery for all types of emergency situations — from natural disasters to power outages.

If your business is in need of cloud solutions or looking for a more cost-efficient host, contact us today! To see more information on our cloud services click here.

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