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.
Top benefits of cloud computing
Cloud computing eliminates the capital expense of buying hardware and software and setting up and running on-site data centers—the racks of servers, the round-the-clock electricity for power and cooling, the IT experts for managing the infrastructure. It adds up fast.
Most cloud computing services are provided self service and on demand, so even vast amounts of computing resources can be provisioned in minutes, typically with just a few mouse clicks, giving businesses a lot of flexibility and taking the pressure off capacity planning.
The benefits of cloud computing services include the ability to scale elastically. In cloud speak, that means delivering the right amount of IT resources—for example, more or less computing power, storage, bandwidth—right when it is needed and from the right geographic location.
On-site data centers typically require a lot of “racking and stacking”—hardware setup, software patching, and other time-consuming IT management chores. Cloud computing removes the need for many of these tasks, so IT teams can spend time on achieving more important business goals.
Cloud computing makes data backup, disaster recovery and business continuity easier and less expensive because data can be mirrored at multiple redundant sites on the cloud provider’s network.
The biggest cloud computing services run on a worldwide network of secure data centers, which are regularly upgraded to the latest generation of fast and efficient computing hardware. This offers several benefits over a single corporate data center, including reduced network latency for applications and greater economies of scale.
Many cloud providers offer a broad set of policies, technologies and controls that strengthen your security posture overall, helping protect your data, apps and infrastructure from potential threats.
Cloud Deployment Types
Public clouds are owned and operated by a third-party cloud service providers, which deliver their computing resources like servers and storage over the Internet. Microsoft Azure is an example of a public cloud. With a public cloud, all hardware, software and other supporting infrastructure is owned and managed by the cloud provider. You access these services and manage your account using a web browser.
A private cloud refers to cloud computing resources used exclusively by a single business or organisation. A private cloud can be physically located on the company’s on-site datacenter. Some companies also pay third-party service providers to host their private cloud. A private cloud is one in which the services and infrastructure are maintained on a private network.
Hybrid clouds combine public and private clouds, bound together by technology that allows data and applications to be shared between them. By allowing data and applications to move between private and public clouds, a hybrid cloud gives your business greater flexibility, more deployment options and helps optimize your existing infrastructure, security and compliance.
Types of cloud services: IaaS, PaaS, ServerLess and SaaS
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
The most basic category of cloud computing services. With IaaS, you rent IT infrastructure—servers and virtual machines (VMs), storage, networks, operating systems—from a cloud provider on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Platform as a service (PaaS)
Platform as a service refers to cloud computing services that supply an on-demand environment for developing, testing, delivering and managing software applications. PaaS is designed to make it easier for developers to quickly create web or mobile apps, without worrying about setting up or managing the underlying infrastructure of servers, storage, network and databases needed for development.
Overlapping with PaaS, serverless computing focuses on building app functionality without spending time continually managing the servers and infrastructure required to do so. The cloud provider handles the setup, capacity planning and server management for you. Serverless architectures are highly scalable and event-driven, only using resources when a specific function or trigger occurs.
Software as a service (SaaS)
Software as a service is a method for delivering software applications over the Internet, on demand and typically on a subscription basis. With SaaS, cloud providers host and manage the software application and underlying infrastructure and handle any maintenance, like software upgrades and security patching. Users connect to the application over the Internet, usually with a web browser on their phone, tablet or PC.
What is possible today with cloud services from a cloud provider.
Create cloud-native applications
Quickly build, deploy and scale applications—web, mobile and API. Take advantage of cloud-native technologies and approaches, such as containers, Kubernetes, microservices architecture, API-driven communication and DevOps.
Store, back up and recover data
Protect your data more cost-efficiently—and at massive scale—by transferring your data over the Internet to an offsite cloud storage system that is accessible from any location and any device.
Stream audio and video
Connect with your audience anywhere, anytime, on any device with high-definition video and audio with global distribution.
Deliver software on demand
Also known as software as a service (SaaS), on-demand software lets you offer the latest software versions and updates around to customers—anytime they need, anywhere they are.
Use intelligent models to help engage customers and provide valuable insights from the data captured.
Unify your data across teams, divisions and locations in the cloud. Then use cloud services, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, to uncover insights for more informed decisions.
Test and build applications
Reduce application development cost and time by using cloud infrastructures that can easily be scaled up or down.
Limitations and disadvantages
Cloud computing is beneficial to many enterprises; it lowers costs and allows them to focus on competence instead of on matters of IT and infrastructure. Nevertheless, cloud computing has proven to have some limitations and disadvantages, especially for smaller business operations, particularly regarding security and downtime. Technical outages are inevitable and occur sometimes when cloud service providers (CSPs) become overwhelmed in the process of serving their clients. This may result in temporary business suspension. Since this technology’s systems rely on the Internet, an individual cannot access their applications, server or data from the cloud during an outage. However, many large enterprises maintain at least two internet providers, using different entry points into their workplaces.