Everybody’s talking about the cloud today. Granted, not everyone has a clear picture of what cloud computing is and what it does, but that doesn’t stop the topic from being discussed by professionals and anyone else who is acquainted with the internet.
Let’s take a few moments and discuss cloud computing, what it is, how it works, and what kinds of cloud technologies we can expect to see in 2022.
We begin with a refresher on the meaning of the term “cloud computing.”
What Is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is the process of delivering on-demand IT services, including analytics, databases, networking, servers, and storage via the internet. These virtual services provide faster innovation, ease of scalability, and greater resource flexibility.
Most cloud models require you to pay only for the resources you use, making it a cost-effective method of incorporating IT into your business without investing in an in-house data center.
Cloud technologies include virtual services such as software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and infrastructure as a service (IaaS), to name a few.
If you’d like some more in-depth information about cloud computing, check out this video.
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Top Benefits of Cloud Computing
- Cost savings: One of the main benefits of cloud computing is that it can help reduce costs. For example, businesses no longer need to invest in expensive on-premises hardware and software. Instead, they can access cloud-based applications and services on a pay-as-you-go basis.
- Scalability: Cloud computing is highly scalable. This means that businesses can easily scale up or down their usage of cloud-based resources as their needs change.
- Flexibility: Another benefit of cloud computing is that it offers greater flexibility than traditional on-premises IT infrastructure. For example, businesses can quickly provision new resources as they need them and can also easily release them when they no longer need them.
- Agility: Cloud computing can help businesses achieve greater agility. This means that they can be more responsive to changes in market conditions and can quickly roll out new applications and services.
- Improved security: Cloud computing can offer improved security compared to traditional on-premises IT infrastructure. This is because cloud providers have expertise in security and can offer a variety of security features, such as data encryption and intrusion detection.
- Enhanced collaboration: Cloud computing can help improve collaboration among employees. For example, they can share files and documents more easily and can access applications and services from anywhere.
- Increased productivity: Cloud computing can help employees be more productive. For example, they can access cloud-based applications and services from anywhere and can use them on any device.
- Disaster recovery: Cloud computing can help businesses recover from disasters more quickly. This is because they can use cloud-based backup and disaster recovery services.
- Environmental benefits: Cloud computing can help businesses reduce their carbon footprint. This is because cloud providers use energy-efficient data centers and use renewable energy to power their operations.
- Improved customer experience: Cloud computing can help businesses improve the customer experience. This is because they can use cloud-based applications and services to provide a better experience to customers.
Cloud Computing Services
Cloud computing services can be divided into three main categories:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): IaaS providers offer customers the ability to rent IT infrastructure on an as-needed basis. IaaS includes all the basic building blocks of cloud computing, such as storage, networking, and servers. Popular IaaS providers include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): PaaS providers offer customers the ability to develop, run, and manage applications on a cloud-based platform. PaaS includes everything that is needed to build and run an application, such as a web server, database, and development tools. Popular PaaS providers include Heroku, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, and Google App Engine.
- Software as a Service (SaaS): SaaS providers offer customers the ability to use a cloud-based software application. SaaS applications are usually delivered through a web browser, and customers do not need to install or manage the software. Popular SaaS applications include Google Docs, Microsoft Office 365, and Salesforce.
Cloud computing services can be deployed in three different ways:
- Public cloud: The public cloud is a type of cloud computing that delivers services over the public Internet. Public clouds are owned and operated by third-party cloud service providers, such as AWS, Azure, and GCP.
- Private cloud: The private cloud is a type of cloud computing that delivers services over a private network. Private clouds are owned and operated by enterprises, and they can be either on-premises or off-premises.
- Hybrid cloud: The hybrid cloud is a type of cloud computing that delivers services over a combination of public and private networks. Hybrid clouds use a mix of on-premises and third-party resources, and they can be either managed or unmanaged.
Examples of Cloud Computing
One of the most common examples of cloud computing is web-based email, like Gmail or Outlook. When you use a web-based email service, your messages and attachments are stored on the email provider’s servers, not on your own computer.Another example of cloud computing is online document storage and collaboration services like Google Docs or Microsoft Office 365. These services enable you to create, edit, and share documents with others over the internet. Your documents are stored on the service’s servers, not on your own computer.
How Important is the Cloud?
The cloud has been a game-changer for the tech industry, and its impact is only growing. There are many reasons why the cloud is so important. First, it's very convenient. You can access your data and applications from any computer or mobile device with an internet connection. Second, it's efficient. The cloud can store a lot of data, and it's easy to scale up or down as your needs change. Third, it's flexible. You can use the cloud for a variety of purposes, from storage to computing power to software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications. Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, the cloud is secure. Your data is stored in secure data centers, and it's backed up in multiple locations. This makes it much less likely that your data will be lost or compromised.
Core Elements of Cloud Computing
The key elements of cloud computing are:
- Elasticity: The ability to scale up or down as needed, in order to meet demand.
- Pay-as-you-go pricing: You only pay for the resources you use, when you use them.
- Self-service: The ability to provision and manage your own resources, without needing to go through a lengthy approval process.
- Shared resources: The ability to share resources with other users, in order to increase efficiency and reduce costs.
- Multi-tenancy: The ability to have multiple users on the same platform, without each user having their own dedicated resources.
How Does Cloud Computing Work?
If we want to better understand how cloud technologies work, we need to look at the three cloud technology deployment models.
Public clouds are the most common and popular type. This product is offered to customers by cloud providers, and the resources are accessible via the public internet. The providers take care of everything concerning infrastructure. Providers include (but aren’t limited to) Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google Cloud Platform.
The private cloud is like an in-house data center. The organization pays for and manages the infrastructure and staff and enjoys the usual cloud computing benefits like scalability and resource sharing by leveraging virtualization.
The hybrid cloud combines the public and private models, linking them via the internet and virtual private networks. The hybrid model is ideal for businesses that want to have an offsite virtual backup for disaster mitigation or if the organization has used up all its in-house resources and requires additional computing power. Hybrid works particularly well if an organization has data stored on a public cloud, thereby freeing up storage space in the private cloud for private and confidential data.
Regardless of the chosen model, customers shop around for their ideal cloud provider and decide what services they want to use (SaaS, IaaS, PaaS). In fact, you may already be using a SaaS without realizing it! If you use apps such as Slack, Dropbox, Microsoft Office 365, or DocuSign, then congratulations, you’re using SaaS.
Since providers offer cloud services as subscriptions, the customer decides the usage level (many providers offer ascending tiers of user ranges) and pay a monthly, or annual, fee to access the resources in question.
Now before we look into cloud technologies, let us learn the advantages of cloud computing.
The Advantages of Cloud Computing
The primary, all-encompassing reason to adopt cloud computing is that the business doesn’t need to concern itself with building, staffing, and maintaining an in-house data center. The company pays the provider to worry about all that.
However, there are many more advantages to using the cloud, such as:
- Cost-efficiency. Customers don’t have to buy equipment or pay the salaries of an entire IT department to maintain and upgrade infrastructure and related software. And let’s not forget the elimination of other related expenses like utility costs (e.g., electricity).
- Speed. Cloud providers supply their customers with rapid, on-demand self-service, so just a few clicks of a mouse brings any needed resource expansions up and running online.
- Elastic scaling. Maybe a company needs more cloud resources during certain times of the year (e.g., holiday sales, month-end accounting) and fewer resources at other times. Elastic scaling gives the customer access to the right amount of resources (e.g., storage, processing power, bandwidth) only when they’re needed through automation.
- Increased productivity. As a rule, cloud computing doesn’t result in the complete removal of the customer’s IT department, but it does reduce the necessity of having a vast department. With the cloud provider handling time-consuming, mundane chores like software patches and hardware setup, the customers can have a streamlined, efficient IT department free to handle the more strategic business needs.
- Security. Although the idea of having confidential data stored offsite on a shared server sounds scary, cloud providers know that if they want to stay in business, they better provide excellent security. Fortunately, they do.
- Business continuity. Cloud computing can back up and mirror useful data on many redundant network sites, making it easier for businesses to recover from disasters.
The Disadvantages of Cloud Computing
If cloud computing were perfect, everyone would be doing it. And although cloud computing is a prevalent and continuously growing platform, it brings along its share of drawbacks that prevent it from being universally embraced.
- What was that about the cost? Just like renting a living space isn’t necessarily cheaper than buying a house outright, cloud computing platforms aren’t always a great bargain. The cost comes down to the business’ unique needs and situations. It could be that it’s cheaper to have a small, in-house data center that runs the same applications as clockwork every month.
- Migration can also be expensive. In some situations, migrating from an in-house system to the cloud may incur excessive expenses and pose a significant difficulty.
- There are still trust issues. Some businesses balk at the idea of their confidential information stored on the same servers as their competitors’ data, potentially crippling a competitive advantage.
We will now learn about the top cloud technologies.
The Top Cloud Technologies
The term “technology,” when used in context with cloud computing, is fluid. For example, some experts consider the above-mentioned deployment models (SaaS, etc.) “cloud technologies.” With that in mind, here are other technologies and terms that will figure prominently in the cloud industry in 2022.
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Edge cloud computing will cut into the traditional cloud platform market shares. Rather than a centralized cloud network, network edge computing leverages smaller, containerized, portable components being processed on a network of decentralized servers. This architecture involves positioning processors, data storage, and servers as close as possible to the users who need them the most. Edge cloud computing reduces the distances between the processor and the end-user points of network functionality, resulting in minimal latency, easier maintenance, and a smaller carbon footprint.
According to the Flexera 2020 State of the Cloud report, serverless was one of the five fastest-growing PaaS cloud services that year. Often referred to as Function as a Service (FaaS), serverless computing lets developers write and deploy code without concerning themselves with provisioning cloud resources. Automation takes care of the server’s configuration and provisioning, so that developers can devote their time and energy to coding.
Secure Access Service Edge (or SASE and pronounced “sassy”) is a network architecture that improves remote access by combining software-defined wide area network (WAN) functions with cloud-native network security assets. These assets include secure web gateways, firewalls as a service, zero-trust network access, and cloud access security brokers. We can thank the increased work at home practices brought about by COVID-19 for SASE’s rising importance.
Cloud Migration and Data Privacy
The new workforce reality spurred by COVID-19 has also pushed secure data migration to the forefront of IT and data governance teams. With more people working remotely, the concepts of data encryption and consumer privacy will take on increased importance.
Automated Cloud Orchestration
Sometimes, the sheer number of interconnected services overwhelms the best of IT organizations. These increased demands for better quality and more significant quantities of interconnected services have boosted the development of automated cloud orchestration and optimization to a high-priority undertaking.
Increased competition among cloud platform providers has resulted in some providers partnering up in interconnecting relationships. These multi-cloud environments help smaller providers take on the big guys, such as AWS. This arrangement, also called “joint cloud provider offerings,” lets customers migrate across linked cloud platforms, giving them more power to run their heavier workloads.
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