What is Cloud Computing and why embrace it now
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Where do you usually save your files? Downloads? C Drive? Documents? Or are you one of those who have a desktop like this? If your answer is either one of these options, you need to embrace the change and adopt cloud computing.
What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing, in simple terms, is the model of computing where various tools, software, and servers are running through the internet. Instead of using your local machine, the work you do, the files you create, the software you use, are all safely stored over off-shore servers, and are accessible via the internet. In other words cloud computing uses multiple servers connected to each other like a global network, and your device connects to this network. This way service providers cater to multiple people and can scale storage/ processing power as per the client demands.
Types of cloud computing
There are 3 primary models of cloud computing.
- SaaS (Software as a service) — In this model, software are available on third-party servers and end users can access these software on a licensing framework. SaaS is usually targeted at end-users that are looking for a software to fulfill a specific need. It is usually a pay as you go model or a monthly/annual subscription. Some examples of SaaS are — Slack, Trello, Asana, HubSpot, and HootSuite.
- PaaS (Platform as a service) — This model provides a cloud-based software development environment where users can create their own software. PaaS is in fact one of the ways to create SaaS products. PaaS is usually targeted at developers, offering them intuitive development environments where they can create applications and software without having to code from scratch, and can instead use several pre-existing components to create their workflows. Examples of PaaS are — Salesforce Platform, Builder.ai, Heroku, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, and Google App Engine.
- IaaS (Infrastructure as a service) — As the name suggests, in this model infrastructures components are offered such as servers, storage space, and networking to replace the traditional physical infrastructure a company maintains. Examples of IaaS are — AWS, Dropbox, Microsoft Azure, and Rackspace.
These can be easily understood using this info-graphic as well (source: Red Hat)
Apart from these 3, there are a few more upcoming cloud computing models.
4. DaaS (Desktop as a service) — It is a cloud based desktop virtualization service that offers instant virtual desktop access anywhere in the world. Useful for customer experience rollouts, temporary employees, interns, DaaS allows companies to provide controlled virtual desktops in any HTML enabled browser.
5. AIaaS (AI as a service) — AI is the hot topic every company wants to align themselves with. Even if a company does not actually implement AI, just adding it to the marketing copy makes the brand instantly innovative. But the companies that are not implementing AI right now will do so in the near future. And that is where AIaaS would come in and implement it for these companies. An everyday example of AIaaS in use are chatbots using NLP (natural language processing) to learn from human conversations and try to imitate that in their responses.
Another classification is on the basis of how cloud is deployed.
- Public cloud — Cloud computing delivered through the internet. These are services that are offered by third party vendors. There are no maintenance costs since it is done by the service provider. However, because of this there is a lack of flexibility, customization, and security.
- Private cloud — Cloud computing delivered through the intranet. These are services provided by the company itself. Due to this closed network, there is a high level of flexibility, customization, and security, but the TCO (total cost of ownership) is very high. Private clouds are generally used by companies working on highly sensitive data.
- Hybrid cloud — The most commonly used cloud computing is Hybrid. It is a mix of public and private cloud computing. Deployment is done as per company policies.
Embracing cloud computing
Now that we have taken this crash course on cloud computing and have basic understanding of how it works, let’s talk about why you should be embracing it if you haven’t yet. Cloud computing provides benefits that on-site systems just cannot provide. The major benefits as to why you should shift from traditional to cloud computing are listed below.
- Scalability — Every company plans a 100% or more YoY growth but more revenue = more users = more computing resources. This level and speed of growth is sustainable in cloud computing where your service provider would increase your server instances, instead of buying more servers, licenses, or storage yourself.
- Flexibility — The need for resources changes frequently. Instead of forecasting the amount of resources needed, you can now simply increase or decrease your licenses as and when required. Most subscriptions are on a monthly basis which would allow you to do this with a click of a button.
- Minimal IT costs — With cloud computing, you would no longer need to host your own servers or pay for unused licenses. The need for a large IT team reduces as well. Additionally, to switch to cloud computing you do not need any additional hardware purchases either.
- Accessibility — 2020 has taught everyone how important accessibility is. People had to work from home, and this is when everyone realized keeping all your work at office was not feasible. Work needed to be virtually stored and accessible from any location.
- Collaboration — When work is done over the internet, it becomes very easy to collaborate. Almost all platforms add a share feature where you can invite multiple colleagues to contribute, comment, or view your work.
- Up-to-date — Automatic updates is a great feature that comes with cloud computing. Since the software is hosted by a third party, they would update it on their own servers and you would end up using the latest version, always.
- Always online — Since vendors use multiple server instances in different locations, even if one server location fails, the others would keep the service afloat. Which is why cloud computing offers almost 99.9% online availability. Even if your own machine fails, you need not wait for it to repair, you can simply open a browser in another machine, and continue where you left off.
Regardless of whether you believe in it or not, cloud computing is here to stay, and pretty soon it won’t be optional. If you haven’t implemented cloud computing till now, you are already a late adopter. Just don’t end up a laggard.