Most likely you have heard the computing buzz word “cloud” more than once. Most people think of the cloud as their favorite website where they store their documents. However, the term refers to a computing model, and this article outlines its benefits and its different levels of service. In general, the term “cloud computing” refers to providing computing and storage as a service to a group of users.
Why move to cloud computing?
It offers new options for business that could increase efficiencies while reducing costs. It addresses existing issues such as:
- High complexity and costs associated with maintaining computer system infrastructures
- Inability to provide reliable redundancy for hardware
- Poor performance due to limited set of resources
- Lack of agility in a rapidly changing market
What levels of service are available?
From the perspective of service levels there are three standard levels that build on top of one another and they are:
- Software as a Service (SaaS): An application is delivered to users regardless of their location or type of device they use. The application is maintained from a central location and does not require deployment to individual devices. Examples include: Microsoft Office 365 and Salesforce.com.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): In this approach the platform and the tools are provided by the service provider for the users to develop their own custom cloud-based applications. Examples include Google App Engine and Microsoft Azure.
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): With this level of service, users can use pools of resources that include compute, storage and networks from the provider to install operating systems and application software on their own.
What characteristics define cloud computing?
There are a number of defining characteristics that apply to cloud computing. Here are some of the more significant ones:
- Scalable – Can expand and shrink as necessary with minimal intervention
- Billed per usage – Pay for only the resources used
- Self service usage – Allows for users to interact with the cloud in an intuitive manner
- Reliable – Designed with business continuity in mind which translates to no down-time
Is it for everyone?
In today’s market there are three flavors of cloud computing (public, private, and hybrid) which makes it a fit for every organization and industry. For example, the public cloud may not be an option for the banking industry due to high security concerns. Their solution may be a private cloud. Essentially the private cloud differs from the public cloud in that it only provides service for a single organization. The hybrid would be a combination of the private and public cloud. Every business will eventually move to some form of cloud computing, however, different organizations will move at different paces. Happy Cloud Computing!