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One important technological innovation of the 21st century is cloud computing. People use it daily, but many don’t know it. When you check your email or use your favourite movie or music streaming site, you are using the cloud. Cloud computing offers a wide range of powerful tools that enable individuals, businesses and organizations to store, manage, and process data over the internet. In this article, we will look at how cloud computing works and why it matters.
What is Cloud Computing?
Amazon Web Services (AWS) says that cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of IT resources over the internet with pay-as-you-go pricing. What does this mean? Cloud service providers offer resources such as email, storage, databases, servers, software, applications, audio and video streaming on the cloud and charge for it. Cloud services are available on demand, and users access them via the internet without maintaining physical servers or data centres. Users access a shared pool of computing resources through a cloud services provider such as AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.
Cloud Computing Services
The three main cloud services include: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
Software as a Service (SaaS)
IBM says that SaaS is application software hosted in the cloud and users access it via a web browser, a dedicated desktop client or an API (application programming interface) that integrates with a desktop or mobile operating system. A cloud service provider manages and maintains the underlying infrastructure of SaaS.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Microsoft Azure notes that PaaS provides an on-demand environment for developing, testing, delivering, and managing software applications. PaaS makes it easier for developers to quickly create web or mobile apps without setting up or managing the underlying infrastructure (e.g. servers, storage, network and databases) needed for development.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
Salesforce says that IaaS provides a business with its basic computing infrastructure, such as networks, servers and storage over the internet. A user can access the application over the internet via a connected device, e.g. a smartphone, tablet or PC. Organizations that provide IaaS supply a virtual server, storage and APIs. IaaS acts as a remote data centre.
Three types of cloud computing models host the above services. They are the public, private and hybrid clouds. The public cloud is a model where the cloud service provider provides cloud computing services over the internet to the public. In a private cloud, an organization has its dedicated computing infrastructure hosted on its premises or by the cloud provider. It offers the most security and control of data. The hybrid cloud combines both public and private clouds.
How Does Cloud Computing Work?
Cloud computing provides users with shared computing resources such as servers, databases, software, servers, and applications over the internet. Users rent and use the computing resources provided by a cloud service provider.
The cloud service provider manages the underlying infrastructure (hardware, software and networking) and makes the resources available to users on demand. The users access the cloud services through their web browser or API.
Users pay for cloud computing services on a pay-per-use or subscription model. They are charged for the number of resources (computing power, storage and bandwidth) they use. This allows users to scale up and down their computing resources as needed.
Cloud computing provides a flexible and cost-effective way for users to access computing resources without investing and managing their infrastructure.
Example of an Organization That Offers Cloud Services
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
AWS offers a broad range of cloud-based products that help organizations move with speed, lower their IT costs and scale their operations. It has products in the following categories: compute, storage, database, networking and content delivery, analytics, machine learning, and security, among others. With the AWS services, an organization can build sophisticated applications with increased flexibility, scalability and reliability.
Why Does Cloud Computing Matter?
Cloud computing matters to individuals, businesses and organizations because of the numerous benefits it offers. Oracle notes that several trends are pushing businesses toward the cloud. This is because the current way of doing business may not deliver the agility, platform or flexibility to compete.
The cloud can store large amounts of data and users do not have to worry about their space limitations or increase their infrastructure. When a user needs more space, they simply upgrade their subscription plan.
Colleagues can work on one document from multiple locations because it is stored in the cloud. This eliminates the back-and-forth that happens over email when two or more people have to work on a document.
The cloud is cost-effective because a user only pays for the computing resources they need. An organization does not have to buy expensive hardware or deal with the costs of repairing and replacing damaged or lost hardware.
Your data may exist in the cloud but it is very safe. Cloud service providers ensure they employ high security measures and only those with access can view the data.
How to Get Started with Cloud Computing
Understand cloud computing by reading widely and mastering the basic concepts and terms.
Identify what you want to achieve with cloud computing so you can find the right cloud service provider.
Start with a small project or application so you can understand how the cloud platform works.
As you get comfortable with using cloud computing, you can gradually increase your usage and explore new services and features.
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