As web technology has become more sophisticated, cloud computing services have become more viable. Cloud computing consists of offering computing services through the Internet. There are huge benefits to cloud computing including increased speed, lower costs and higher flexibility for users. Users also benefit from increased productivity due to being able to access their services on the go.
What is cloud computing used for?
- Offering new applications, software and services
- Storing data
- Hosting websites
- Streaming audio-visual content and other multimedia
- Data analysis
- Automated services
The benefits of cloud computing
There are many benefits of cloud computing, which has lead to widescale adoption of cloud computing practices. Large organisations, such as Google, have entered the space, and offer far more than most small businesses can receive from local non-cloud providers for a similar price. The benefits include:
- Cost: cloud computing eliminates the need to purchase servers and software and spreads the costs across many clients, allowing their services to be delivered for significantly cheaper than other providers
- Speed: due to the scale of most cloud computing providers, they are able to afford significantly more powerful systems that deliver faster response times
- Global scalability: most cloud providers are large companies with significant resources that can offer their clients huge scalability and global access to the cloud
- Productivity: utilising an outsourced computing solution like the cloud means that in-house IT staff can focus on other tasks which benefit organisational productivity
- Performance: because cloud computing providers service so many clients, they dedicate significant time and resources to ensuring their systems are up-to-date and secure
- Reliability: similarly, with so many relying on their services, cloud service providers ensure that there are reliable failsafes and back-ups to prevent data loss and system breakdowns
What types of cloud computing services are available?
There are three main types of cloud computing:
- Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
- Platform as a service (PaaS)
- Software as a service (Saas)
These services build on top of one another and interact to offer the huge capabilities of cloud computing. Together these three categories are called the ‘cloud computing stack’.
What does each part of the cloud computing stack do?
- Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS): IaaS is the most basic form of cloud computing, which allows clients to IT infrastructure remotely. This includes servers, data storage systems, networks, virtual machines and the operating systems that allow them to function. These are typically provided on a contract or a pay as you go basis.
- Platform as a service (PaaS): PaaS enables developers to create applications without setting up the infrastructure required to develop, test, deliver and manage those applications. By providing the servers, storage systems, network infrastructure and databases, software developers are able to create much more effectively.
- Software as a service (SaaS): SaaS is the top layer of the cloud computing stack, which utilises both the infrastructure and the software platforms of IaaS and SaaS to provide usable software solutions through the internet. This means that clients only need a web browser to utilise powerful programs which may operate at levels far beyond the hardware and software directly available to them.