Digital Themes

Cloud Computing

What is cloud computing?

Cloud computing is the availability of computer resources through internet capable devices. Rather than having to purchase physical hardware and software solutions, cloud computing makes software and services available through internet connections. This means that instead of having to heavily invest in capital expenditures for hardware such as servers, businesses can instead choose to utilize cloud computing services. Cloud computing offers a wide range of products and services, such as data storage, virtual machines, and machine learning systems.

There are three main types of cloud deployment models for software and data storage. These are public, private, and hybrid clouds. Public clouds allow companies discounted access to servers and software systems that are being utilized by multiple different entities throughout a wide geographic range. 

Examples of public cloud services include Amazon Web Services (AWS) Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2), Google Cloud,  and Microsoft Azure, among others. Private clouds, on the other hand, reserve a dedicated server, or servers, for use just by the company purchasing it. This can be particularly important for sensitive and private data, or as part of complying with data privacy laws. Private clouds are often utilized by government or healthcare agencies. 

Hybrid clouds are clouds that combine aspects of public clouds, private clouds, and/or on-premises solutions. Hybrid clouds often offer the most cost-effective, secure solution for many businesses, as they only pay for the premium expense of private or on-premises solutions when necessary. Cloud service providers frequently offer cloud-based data centers. These data centers allow organizations to have their data stored securely online while being accessible from any internet-connected device. 

Cloud storage is also beneficial as part of a disaster recovery plan. With traditional on-premises data storage, businesses are at risk of potentially losing all of their data if a device is lost, broken, or damaged in a catastrophic event, such as a fire. However, if the data is hosted on cloud infrastructure, it benefits from cloud security. Many cloud providers will automatically back up data across geographic locations, thereby ensuring that catastrophic events cannot wipe out all data at once. Furthermore, cloud service providers offer many solutions for data security, such as firewalls, that help to make sure that only authorized individuals can access stored data.

There are also a wide range of cloud applications available as part of cloud computing. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) models allow companies to purchase software that can be used across devices with a single license. This means that after purchasing the software license, the software can be installed on multiple devices and across operating systems. Rather than having to use a dedicated computer, employees can instead use the software as needed across devices. Common examples of SaaS include Microsoft’s Office 365 and Google Workspace (formerly known as G Suite).

Benefits of cloud computing include:

  • Scalability: Rather than being limited to available physical resources, cloud computing resources can be turned on and off as needed. For example, if a critical business process has an unexpectedly large amount of data that quickly needs to be processed, businesses can increase their access to computational services for a limited amount of time, and then decrease them once the need has lessened.

  • Lower capital expenditures: Instead of having to purchase servers and software that may not be fully utilized for years, businesses can buy just the services they need when they need them. This allows organizations to focus on predictable operational expenses, rather than large capital ones.
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