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The cloud is a term that refers to a network of servers physically located somewhere off-premises that can be accessed over the internet. Cloud data centers are located across the world and allow both businesses and consumers to have access to a wide range of software and server configurations without having to maintain the servers at their physical locations. There are many ways that the cloud can be utilized for both personal and professional experiences, and there are many benefits to using the cloud.
Cloud-based resources allow data and services to be accessed from any internet-connected device, meaning that businesses can always be connected. Access to pre-built cloud offerings can decrease total development time compared with traditional methods. It is also possible to integrate many existing services with cloud platforms so as to improve business outcomes and decrease time spent on manual processes. Maintenance, such as updating and patching, can be done with tools specially designed to optimize the process. Additionally, many cloud providers automatically ensure many aspects of server and data security. This allows organizations to focus more on business objectives, rather than on maintenance of software and services. Cloud services also allow organizations to collect data and use machine learning to analyze it and pull relevant business recommendations that would otherwise be difficult to parse.
Cloud computing services have grown over the years, and now large businesses can run their software and programs entirely through the cloud without the need for their own servers. This can be done through a wide range of service offerings, such as software-as-a-service (SaaS) or platform-as-a-service (PaaS). SaaS allows consumers and businesses access to cloud software, both open source and closed source, entirely through the cloud without the need for any specific hardware and software configurations on their device, such as with Microsoft’s Office 365 offerings. PaaS, on the other hand, allows businesses to access already built code and customize it for their needs, such as with AWS Lambda.
The cloud also has the ability to run virtual machines, which are machines that can run operating systems such as Windows and Linux on the cloud without the need for the physical computer architecture. Virtual machines allow for more processing power than traditional computers, as they have access to servers and computations as needed. One server becomes many, and many servers become a wide array that can be modified as necessary to meet demand. Virtualization generally runs on servers that are owned by a cloud provider, which can then be used by many customers at lower rates in comparison to purchasing the necessary servers and software to keep on-premises. Cloud platforms also allow for serverless computing. This means that the organization takes care of the servers entirely for the client and can scale machine resources as needed on behalf of their customers. Serverless architecture allows resources to be scaled based on need, and businesses can be billed for only for what they use. Examples of serverless cloud services include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and IBM Cloud.
There are three general types of cloud computing services:
Organizations can choose the cloud deployment model that works best for them based on their budget and necessary security standards. Businesses can also choose to utilize a multi-cloud (also referred to as multicloud or multi cloud) model, where they utilize multiple cloud service providers and services in order to meet their needs.
The business benefits of using cloud-based technology include: