Cloud computing is a blanket term for the servers, storage, networking, software, databases, and other computing services that can be leveraged over the internet. These are used by businesses to improve the efficiency of their IT infrastructure, lower their operating cost, and can be scaled according to changing needs.
The different types of cloud computing, also referred to as cloud environments or cloud deployment models, can be split into three different categories. Depending on the business's specific needs, they can opt for public, private, or hybrid clouds. These all have their own pros and cons to take into consideration.
Public Cloud environments are usually used by small and medium-sized businesses where budget is a big consideration. This type of cloud environment is generally used by outsourced cloud providers, which the business then accesses via the internet. This is typically done through a pay-per-use model. The cloud provider is responsible for creating as well as maintaining the public cloud. This makes it cost-effective for businesses to increase their IT capacity without too much additional operational cost.
Public Cloud environments allow for easy scalability and are easy to manage while being very reliable. They are also very cost-effective and can be used without any geographical restrictions. However, public cloud environments might not be the most secure option where sensitive data is concerned.
Businesses that want a more controlled environment for their IT resources often opt for Private Cloud deployment. Since the business owns this type of cloud environment entirely and uses it for their own needs, it tends to be more bespoke. Even though it is a private cloud, you can still host it externally if the business prefers not to manage everything in-house. Private cloud hosting tends to be a more expensive option, but the improved level of security makes it a good choice for larger businesses.
In addition to the higher level of security, a private cloud deployment gives the business greater control over the server, which makes it more customizable. Depending on their IT requirements, the business can customize every facet of the cloud, such as storage, computer components, and more. The downside is that more expertise is required to manage a private cloud, and it is not always as easy to access data in the cloud from remote locations.
As the name suggests, a Hybrid Cloud deployment model combines elements of both public and private cloud models. For example, a hybrid cloud can connect from an on-premises data center to a public cloud. Typically the public and private services of these are integrated with each other.
Hybrid cloud deployment is highly flexible and very scalable while also offering enhanced security. It can also be more affordable as the business can choose to run workloads in whichever cloud environment is most cost-effective for the task. Another advantage of hybrid clouds is that they make it easier to meet regulatory requirements. For example, depending on the industry, some data cannot reside in the public cloud, but the business could still benefit from using it for specific workloads. There are downsides, too, such as more difficulty implementing the infrastructure and greater hardware expenses.
In addition to the cloud deployment models, there are three different service models for cloud computing. These are Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (Paas), and Software as a Service (SaaS). Some vendors offer solutions that offers multiple services while others focus on a specific service. For example, Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS and Google Cloud are some of the biggest names in the industry and provides SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS. Other vendors offering PaaS include IBM Cloud, Oracle Cloud, and smaller or open source cloud platforms such as OpenStack, Apache Cloudstack and Wasabi.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
The most common service model for cloud computing is Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas). Using this service provides the business with the virtual servers, network operating systems, and the storage needed without having to invest in the necessary hardware themselves. This service also offers the scalability and reliability that most businesses need from the cloud. In general, Infrastructure as a Service is used on a pay-for-use basis from outsourced companies and can be used on all three types of cloud deployments.
Platform as a Service (Paas)
Platform as a Service (Paas) is a type of service where an external provider is responsible for deploying the infrastructure and software framework required by a business. Businesses can then use these for the development of their own applications without having to install in-house hardware and software It is also up to the business whether they want to maintain the software themselves or have the vendor do so. The service is flexible enough to support web applications and works well in instances where multiple developers are assigned to the same project. In addition, PaaS is beneficial when creating customized applications.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Software as a Service (Saas) refers to a cloud computing solution where businesses use software over the internet on a subscription or pay-per-use basis. In general, it is helpful for short-term projects, and no maintenance is required from the business side as everything is managed from a central location. SaaS is often used for mobile sales management software or other applications that require a lot of web or mobile access.
Stepping into the world of cloud computing can be daunting for businesses used to doing things the traditional way. However, behind all the jargon lies a useful and valuable service that can be a game-changer. The value of becoming familiar with what cloud computing has to offer and which deployment or services can be leveraged to match the needs of a business cannot be overstated.