What is cloud computing?
Cloud Computing is an umbrella term covering the delivery of hosted computing services over the internet, including; software, hardware and storage.
Essentially, organisations can rent access to these services which allows them to avoid the upfront cost and complexity of owning and maintaining their own IT infrastructure, and instead simply pay for what they use, when they use it. The cloud is a shortened name for this offering.
Cloud servers are remote, connected, and house the files and data that you need for work. Basically, rather than all of that information sitting on your laptop or computer hard drive, it’s hosted on a server in a data centre that could be anywhere in the world. Each server will have a different function; managing, securing or backing up data remotely and those using cloud computing services generally pay a monthly fee or usage rate to their service provider.
History of the cloud
In the 1950s when computer technology was created, the machines were so large and costly that companies would share them, forging time-share contracts and spreading the associated costs between them. At this point, one computer would fill an entire room. Jumping forward to the 1970s, the technology moved on somewhat, with the advent of virtual machines. This new technology allowed multiple computing environments to exist within a single physical environment.
The term cloud computing wasn’t invented for another 20 or so years, in the 1990s. In the early days of cloud technology, organisations could simply rent computer power and storage—a long way from today when the cloud presents the opportunity for businesses to process, store and manage data. Nowadays, the cloud involves rows and rows of servers kept in data centres around the world, through which you can access the computing resources you need.
How does the cloud work?
Cloud computing involves the storage of business information and programmes necessary for your organisation to carry out day-to-day tasks. The way that they are stored is on physical servers and virtual machines in the aforementioned remote data centres. These data centres are operated by your cloud computing provider—this could be iomart, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft or someone else entirely.
With the servers in the data centre being linked with one another, you can share content with other cloud users at your organisation and grant them access to edit or read any files shared with them. As long as they have a capable device with access to the internet, they can collaborate with you in real-time on documents and other files.
There are different deployment models for cloud computing. These include;
Fully deployed and run within the cloud, a private cloud can only be accessed by members working within the organisation that owns the cloud.
The public cloud is a type of computing in which a service provider makes resources available to the public via the internet often on a pay-per-usage model.
The cloud infrastructure (servers) are located in the office of the organisation employing the cloud services – Infrastructure as a Service style (see “cloud computing models” below).
Multi-tenant private cloud (also called community cloud)
This model looks largely the same as the private cloud deployment model—the main difference is the set of users. Essentially, while one company owns a private cloud server, a multi-tenant private cloud is used by several organisations that share the infrastructure and associated resources of one cloud server.
Connects infrastructure and applications between cloud-based resources and existing resources that are not located in the cloud. The Hybrid Cloud incorporates all the different cloud deployment models, so if you want to keep some information On-Premise (at your place), in the Private Cloud (at our place), or access the Public Cloud (at their place), a Hybrid Cloud option is for you.
When it comes to public cloud options, there are a few different cloud platforms available to organisations. Current cloud operating systems or Cloud OS include; Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services. For example, here at iomart, we are one of a select group of Microsoft direct cloud solution providers (CSPs) with multiple gold partner competencies. This means that we utilise Microsoft Azure to provide cloud services to our many clients.
Cloud computing models
Alongside the choice of cloud deployment models, there are three different cloud computing models on offer. This is the level and type of service that your cloud computing package will provide.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
This is the most common service model of cloud computing. IaaS offers the fundamental infrastructure of computing that can be rented; be it physical or virtual servers, network, operating systems or data storage drives.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
With this option, cloud computing providers create the infrastructure and software framework through which organisations can develop and run their own applications. These additional features include middleware, database management, operating systems and development tools.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
This offering involves the delivery of applications-as-a-service, probably the version of cloud computing that most people are used to on a day-to-day basis. Examples of SaaS in action are Google Drive/OneDrive/iCloud, and this offering is usually paid using a pay-per-use model.
Advantages of using cloud computing
Several advantages come from using a cloud computing infrastructure, including;
- Cost efficiency
- Reduced carbon output
- Dynamic and flexible scalability
- Increased security measures
- 24/365 access to business files
- Restoration/recovery of accidentally deleted data
If your organisation is considering a move to cloud computing, get in touch to speak with one of our cloud specialists. We’ll ensure you have a thorough understanding of the undertaking that is moving to the cloud, as well as the advantages it will bring.