Cloud computing has beena buzzword in the IT industry for a long time, and it has transformed the way we access, create, and share information.While cloud computing might feel like a new concept, it has been around for many years.
In fact, the 2018 IDG Cloud Computing Study revealed that 77 percent of enterprises have at least one application or a portion of their enterprise computing infrastructure in the cloud. LogicMonitor’s Cloud Vision 2020: The Future of the Cloud Study expects 83 percent of enterprise workloads to be in the cloud by 2020.
If you would like to better understand what cloud computing is and how it works, you have come to the right place. This article assumes no prior knowledge of cloud computing yet explains everything you need to know to benefit from this ground-breaking technology.
What Is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing refers to the delivery of computing services over the cloud. What is the cloud? A metaphor for the internet that comes from the symbol used to represent the global computer network in flowcharts and presentations, a white cumulonimbus cloud.
Computing services that can be delivered over the cloud include everything from storage and databases to servers and networking to software and analytics. In the simplest terms, cloud computing moves these services away from your local hard drive and puts them on shared data centers. All you have to do is plug in, like a utility.
Even if you don’t realize it, you’re probably using cloud computing right now. From editing documents to watching movies to playing games,it’s almost difficult to find a popular software application that doesn’t rely on cloud computing in some way.
It’s estimated that nearly 2 billion people worldwide use cloud storage solutions such as Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or Dropbox, and their number will likely increase to 2.3 billion by 2020. Entire businesses and business models have emerged around cloud computing, and everyone from tiny startups to large corporations and government agencies is embracing the technology for a variety of different reasons.
Types of Cloud Computing
Just like there are different clouds in the sky, there are different types of cloud computing that you can use to meet your needs.
Most people use various public clouds, which are operated by third-party cloud service providers, such as Microsoft, Amazon, or Google. For example, Microsoft Office 365, a line of subscription services offered by Microsoft, actually runs on the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform.
Public clouds offer excellent scalability as they are backed by the servers and expertise of large technology companies. Their biggest disadvantage is the lack of control they give you over security and upgrades, which can be especially worrisome for companies and organizations that handle a lot of sensitive data.
Whereas a public cloud can be shared by millions of different users, a private cloud is always used exclusively by a single user. The user may want to keep its private cloud physically located on its on-site datacenter, but a private cloud can also be operated by a third party and located in another country.
Private clouds provide total control, but they come with various responsibilities. They are often deployed for intra-business interactions and preferred by companies that want to maximize their data security.
As their name suggests, hybrid clouds combine public and private clouds and offer a solid middle-ground for those who require high operational efficiency but don’t want to give up their data security. With hybrid clouds, data and applications can move between private and public clouds depending on current needs.
Because of their technical complexity, hybrid clouds are more expensive to deploy than public or private clouds, but this disadvantage is largely outweighed by their long-term cost savings. Cloud compatibility can become a problem in hybrid cloud environments, which is why it’s important for businesses and organizations to plan well ahead.
Benefits of Cloud Computing
As already hinted at, cloud computing has many benefits that make it an easy choice for individual users and companies alike. Let’s take a closer look at some of the main benefits of cloud computing.
- Speed: It takes a lot of time to set up an on-site data center. Cloud computing elegantly removes the need for time-consuming hardware installation, software patching, and other IT management tasks and makes it possible to provision vast amounts of computing resources in minutes, not days or weeks.
- Cost: Because cloud computing services can be set up with just a few mouse clicks and in a matter of minutes, they eliminate the need for large IT staff. This is especially important for small companies and startups with limited resources, which are much better off focusing on their core business than spending money on IT.
- Scalability:“Cloud computing can offer small businesses a lot of flexibility,”says Robert Epstein, head of small business sales and marketing at Microsoft UK. With cloud computing, it’s possible to scale IT resources elastically depending on current needs and reliably deliver them to the right geographic location.
- Security: Only a small handful of businesses and organizations have the resources to protect themselves and their customers against the latest cyber threats.Everyone else can benefit from the resources and expertise of third-party cloud computing providers.
- Reliability: Popular cloud computing services run on secure data centers with multiple layers of redundancy and worldwide presence. They can operate even in the event of a large-scale natural disaster and guarantee availability through Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
Cloud computing has opened up a broad range of uses for computer users as well as businesses and organizations of all sizes. Those who move to the cloud can enjoy increased operational agility, lower costs, greater flexibility, superior security, and near-perfect reliability. Of course, cloud computing isn’t without its downsides, but the pros far outweigh the cons, which is why many experts agree that the future belongs to the cloud.