- Cloud Computing
- Infrastructure as a Service
- Platform as a Service
- Software as a Service
- Storage as a Service
What is Cloud Computing?
>Cloud computing delivers virtualized servers, storage space, development platforms, and applications over the Internet. It allows companies to increase and decrease their computing capabilities instantly without needing to invest in new hardware (physical infrastructure), new IT personnel, new software, or the associated energy and space costs. Often, access to the cloud is provided through web-based tools or applications. The data and software used by these web-based tools and applications are stored on servers at remote locations – data centers. The cloud is increasingly secure, and smaller businesses avoid lengthy and expensive processes to acquire security certifications when they use the security resources offered by cloud computing.
Why use Cloud Computing?
According to a study by Forrester, most companies use less than 50% of their total data center capacity. In fact, according to McKinsey and the Uptime Institute, only 6% of servers in a data center are used on average, and of the 7,000+ data centers in the United States, more than 30% are no longer in use. The general practice among enterprises has been to pay high capital expenditures for excess infrastructure (hard drives, RAM, operating systems, servers, etc.) just to handle maximum workloads, which rarely occur throughout the year. With cloud computing, enterprises only need to pay for what they need on a pay-as-you-go model; furthermore, cloud computing is easier to maintain than local infrastructure and storage. Your service vendor may also maintain the system’s network connection, hardware, operating system, and supporting software depending on the level of service. This means you save money on capital expenditures, as well operational costs and IT resources.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS refers to the sector of cloud computing that provides virtual data centers to users. Instead of purchasing, maintaining and utilizing personal hardware, users rent virtual data centers hourly/monthly/yearly and increase or decrease the amount of equipment as necessary. The primary benefit to a user is a lower cost of ownership and more flexibility in the utilization of the data center. There are multiple deployment methods for IaaS. These include public, private, and hybrid:
Public Cloud IaaS
In public cloud IaaS, the provider operates a massive network of servers available to any and every customer. This results in nearly limitless scalability and also maximization of efficiency, as the cost is distributed among the magnitude of various customers.
Private Cloud IaaS
In private cloud IaaS, the provider operates a network of servers for only one customer. This type of IaaS, greatly resembles traditional virtualization products, and lacks the sharing and scaling capabilities characteristic of cloud computing.
Hybrid Cloud IaaS
In hybrid cloud IaaS,customers combine multiple clouds that are bound together by similar technologies allowing them to transfer data and applications while remaining unique entities.
Platform as a Service
PaaS facilitates the building, testing, and execution of custom applications, both web applications and enterprise applications, using cloud technology. The application development tool is hosted in the cloud and accessed through a browser. PaaS solutions allow IT departments to focus on application development and not worry about run-time system and deployment details such as capacity provisioning, load balancing, and auto-scaling.
Computing platforms generally include an integrated development environment (IDE), a piece of software that acts as text editor, debugger and compiler, increasing the production efficiency of the application developer. PaaS providers can provide a custom IDE available as a cloud application. These proprietary IDEs require programmers to spend time to learn to use these new tools and are often limited in the programming languages they support.
PaaS providers generally fall into four categories (there is overlap between these categories as some providers have multiple offerings):
IDE with cloud deployment providers
IDE with cloud deployment providers allow the developer to use familiar IDEs with the development process taking place on their local machines rather than through cloud applications. The application is then deployed into a remote cloud data center.
Cloud IDEs provide a cloud development environment along with the cloud data center so all functions, from coding to deployment, are browser-based. In some sense this is the pure PaaS solution, requiring only an internet connection for application development.
PaaS for business experts
PaaS for business experts have powerful tools for application development which do not require coding. Cloud software allows the user to select from an array of objects and attributes to build their custom application. The applications are generally geared towards business process management.
IDE-neutral cloud runtime systems
IDE-neutral cloud runtime systems do not provide development tools but rather are designed to enable deployment of applications to cloud data centers and deal with ongoing scaling and management issues. Application development takes place off of the cloud allowing the developer to use the tools of their choice within the constraints set by the environment (operating system, programming languages). Most of these PaaS products support only one programming language, which can limit the production options. These providers play an important role in emerging elastic application platforms.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
From the consumer market to the enterprise level, SaaS has engulfed a large percentage of Internet users.
SaaS, or Software-as-a-Service is essentially on-demand software and applications that users can access via an Internet cloud, mainly on a subscription basis. The service is fully packaged and functional, and does not require additional purchases or downloads as the service provider continuously updates the service.
Streaming “movie content” sites are an excellent example of SaaS. Users can log on to the website, stream content through the browser, and it’s almost as if the website is a movie database.
The reality at work is a software program, provided as a service. Users subscribe to the service for a fee, and then have access to the entire movie database through their web browsers. In this case, the huge databases, the embedded flash player, the bevvy of archived shows and movies, all of the components of the production are lumped into the subscription price.
Under a monthly subscription, users unlock a massive entertainment collection that would typically be highly expensive. The user seamlessly navigates through the software interface to his or her desired movie. This is one small example of how a SaaS abstracts physical data (movies and shows), and provides it through an Internet medium as an entertainment service.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems act similarly, providing businesses with sales tools through an Internet channel. This type of SaaS offering is a software service for businesses to manage resources, track customer data, as well several other software tools within to increase revenues and reduce local storage. New employees can be added to the company account easily, gaining access to leads, clients and sales tools to succeed. Another advantage is in the constant access to the CRM data through the Internet cloud, without the concern of a local failure/loss of data.
Overall, software-as-a-service is incredibly useful for consumers and enterprise customers alike, and will continue to develop quickly over time.
Storage as a Service
Cloud Storage is a cloud service that allows a user to store or back-up data outside of their local device. The user data is transferred through a network, typically the Internet, and then accessed through a web-based user interfaced offered by the service provider. Traditionally, users stored data on a local, physical hard drive. Cloud storage providers provide physical hard drives in a remote data center. Users then access their data by transferring it through the network back to their local hard drive or by accessing the hard drive in the data center remotely.
Cloud storage offers many benefits to users. Users can typically access their data from any device at any time. This includes laptops, desktops, mobile phones, and tablets. Data is stored redundantly, so there are multiple copies in data centers around the United States and the world. If one data center is crippled by a natural or man-made disaster in one location, the data is still accessible from another location. This is why cloud storage is an effective choice for businesses looking to back-up data off-site. Most data centers offer generous physical and data security that smaller businesses cannot afford.