The Internet offers many possible solutions for individuals and for business. Some of the tools available now are still in the developmental stages, and the Cloud is one of those ideas. New ideas enable the Cloud to take on new and expanded possibilities in hosting.
Why the „Cloud“ Exists
Companies discovered that when there are many people using the same software applications from their own servers that it can drastically slow them down. The natural solution would be to buy more expensive servers. This led to costs that companies did not want to pay. As a solution, other companies decided to offer software and server solutions through their own servers at a greatly reduced price.
The third-party companies then were not only able to provide the software, and the additional computing power, but they were also responsible to provide for the security of the computer systems. This reduced the need for companies to have to pay for not only the additional servers and software, but they also no longer needed top computer security personnel.
The Various Forms of the Cloud
The term, the „Cloud,“ could refer to either its location, or to the type of service. As far as location is concerned, the classifications would be one of the following:
Public – When a company offers a public cloud, the cloud company provides the entire infrastructure. The customer merely accesses the service that the company provides. The resources are shared by the customers, and they have no control over where they are located, or over the level of security offered. An advantage is that costs are shared with other companies, enabling lower costs. This type of service is more vulnerable to attacks than the other forms.
Private – A private cloud means that the computing resources and servers are not being shared with other customers. It may be located on the company’s property or at the third party cloud company’s location. If located on the company’s property, this type of hosting enables the highest form of security possible.
Hybrid – The hybrid form of the Cloud is a combination of public and private forms. Some applications, such as forms and information used by customers may be on a public server, but company data and files will likely be on a private server. Most companies use this type of computer cloud services.
Community Cloud – This form of the cloud is one that multiple organizations may use where data often needs to be shared. Similar organizations may use a community cloud if they desire to share some data, and if their requirements for the cloud are similar. In reality, it is a hybrid situation, with some parts of the cloud being on private servers, and some on public.
Cloud Computing Offered As a Service
Cloud computing is also identified by the various types of services offered. Although there are an increasing number of types available, currently there are three main types:
• Software as a Service (SaaS)
A company buys the use of software from a cloud company. Users access the software through the Internet. Because a SaaS company would most likely already be hosting the software on the server, any software needed could be made accessible almost instantly.
All of the issues relating to the software are the responsibility of the SaaS company. They would handle all updates and backups. An example would be Google Docs.
• Platform as a Service (PaaS)
In a company that offers Platform as a service, everything that is needed for a complete platform is made available. This includes the hardware and the software, the hosting, and everything else that might be needed. The primary use of this service is to develop applications that will work with another company’s existing software.
• Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
This form of cloud computing is really the simplest form. The cloud company simply offers preselected hardware and software through the Internet. This includes storage, a database, access to support, and a virtual private server. The customer decides how to use what is available, expanding on the services when needed, or reducing them. An example is a web hosting company.
The above forms are the most common, but other forms are available, and the list is expected to continue to grow. The list includes:
• Security as a Service (SECaaS)
• Recovery as a Service (RaaS)
• Data as a Service (DaaS)
• Storage as a Service (STaaS)
• Test environment as a Service (TEaaS)
• Desktop as a service (DaaS)
Advantages of Using a Cloud Computing Company
For a company, there are a number of advantages of moving to cloud-based services. Some of these features are optional.
• Easily Scalable
Your computing capabilities can be easily scaled to your needs. They can be enlarged as needed in order to meet seasonal demands, or reduced.
• Pay Only for What You Use
Money can be saved by paying only for bandwidth and services used. Metered service is provided.
• Reduce Costs on Hardware
If you want a less expensive way to go for your business, cloud computing is an excellent way to do it. You do not need to buy additional hardware, software, software licensing fees, etc.
There is no need to upgrade computers because with the cloud, the computing action takes place in the cloud, not on your computers. The cloud is accessed through traditional web browsers, or specialized software. Excellent levels of security are also available with some forms of the cloud.
• Newest Software
If you use the cloud, you will discover that you will always have the newest and latest software. All upgrades are added right away, and you do not need to ensure that they will work correctly.
• Always Available
A powerful advantage of the cloud is that providers currently have a very good record of keeping it on. It is rarely ever down, and this is good for your business. All your employees need is access to the Internet and they will be able to do their work. So far, they are up for an average of 99.99 percent of the time.
• Do It Yourself
This is a self-service arrangement where every IT resource is available to you.
• Smaller IT Team
When you switch to the cloud, your company no longer needs a large IT team. You can cut back on IT staff because the company providing the cloud services for you will do most of the work.
What to Look for in a Cloud Computing Company
Prior to selecting a cloud provider for hosting, it is important to fully understand what your needs are. Most companies end up using a hybrid form of cloud services, enabling them to have increased security on private servers, but still allow the public to access the information and forms needed on a public server.
Cloud computing is clearly here to stay. Many companies of all sizes are finding it to be a much better solution to their needs because of the increased flexibility and the reduced costs. Cloud hosting and services continue to get better and the variety is growing. Many companies have already discovered that it is just the better way to do business.