Over the last few years cloud computing has been gaining in popularity. You hear things like: “it’s in cloud,” their “cloud got hacked,” and “cloud storage.” Its clear people understand the concept behind cloud computing, but few truly understand what it is and more importantly, how it can help your business.

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is the delivery of computing services over the internet. This includes servers, storage, databases, networking, software and analytics. Cloud providers are companies that offer these services and will typically charge based on usage.

What Types of Cloud Services Are There?

There are three types of cloud services infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), software-as-a-service (SaaS). Since these services can build on top of each other, they are sometimes referred to as the cloud computing stack.

  • Infrastructure-as-a-service is the most basic of the three services. In this model, you rent the infrastructure you require on a pay-as-you-go basis.
  • Platform-as-a-service will supply an on-demand environment for development, testing, delivering and managing software applications. It is designed for developers to quickly create applications, without having to worry about creating or managing the underlying infrastructure that is typically needed for development.
  • Software-as-a-service is a method for delivering software applications online. Cloud providers will host and manage these software applications and their underlying infrastructure, including any updates or maintenance, all on a subscription basis.

Are All Clouds the Same?

No. There are three different deployment options depending on your needs. They are public, private and hybrid.

  • Public clouds are owned and operated by third-party cloud service providers, which deliver their resources online. You can access and manage the services on your account using a web browser.
  • Private clouds are clouds used exclusively by a single business. In private clouds all of the services and infrastructure are maintained on a private network. When using a private cloud some companies will have them located in the company’s on-site datacenter, others will pay third-party providers to host them.
  • Hybrid clouds are exactly as they sound, a combination of public and private clouds. They are bound together by technology that allows the data and applications to be shared between them, giving businesses more deployment options and greater flexibility.

What Are the Benefits of Cloud Computing?

There are several advantages of using cloud computing.

  • Reliability: Your data can be mirrored at multiple redundant sites on the cloud provider’s network. This means that backing up your data is much easier and less expensive.
  • Performance: The largest cloud computing services run on a global network of secure datacenters, which are constantly being updated to the latest generation of fast and efficient computing hardware.
  • Speed: Most cloud computing providers offer self-service and on-demand services. You are paying for what you need, which will give your business more flexibility and take the pressure off of capacity planning.
  • Cost: Since you are renting these services you don’t have to buy or keep up your hardware, software and servers or hire IT experts to manage your infrastructure. You will also save cost on electricity use and cooling.
  • Productivity: On-site data centers will typically require hardware set-up, software patching and other various time-consuming IT management tasks. When using a cloud computing service, they will take care of all of these tasks for you, so your internal IT team can spend their time and energy concentrating on the overall goals of your business.