December 28, 2019

Enterprise Software

What is Cloud Computing? Basics for Beginners

By Pavel Kukhnavets

Cloud computing is a convenient and efficient way to deliver enterprise applications. Many companies that extend their infrastructure or launch innovations prefer cloud solutions nowadays.

The cloud services market is booming because the benefits of moving to the cloud are obvious.

There is a quite suggestive forecast by Gartner, claiming that the global public cloud services market is expected to grow 17% in 2020 to total $266.4 billion (up from $227.8 billion in 2019). Most of the modern companies clearly understand how they can benefit from moving their apps or infrastructure to the cloud. 

How to understand the difference and advantages of cloud computing models? What should you exactly know about them? This post covers the key basics of cloud computing and the differences between SaaS, PaaS and IaaS solutions.

What is Cloud Computing?

 

What is Cloud Computing?

The term cloud is not a new one when talking about computing technologies. This is a direct metaphor for the Internet that is often used to depict the Internet on diagrams. 

If we imagine that the Internet is a virtual space for connecting users from all over the world, it looks like a cloud that shares data by the way of networks.

If trying to look deeper, cloud computing means sharing resources, software, and information through a network. All data is stored on virtual or physical servers that are controlled by a cloud-computing provider (for example, Amazon and the AWS product). Cloud computing users get access to the stored info on the cloud through an Internet connection.

Nowadays cloud computing is popular for a number of reasons including increased productivity and efficiency, cost savings, boosting performance, and controlling security.

Cloud computing took such a name because the data being accessed is found remotely in the virtual or cloud space. Users are not required to be in a specific place to gain access to it, they are able to work remotely. Cloud computing takes all heavy processes involved in crunching data away from the device you work at.

Cloud computing can be:

  • Private – when cloud systems only provide services to a certain number of people. 
  • Public – when cloud systems provide their services over the Internet for a fee.

A hybrid option does also exist. It combines elements of both services.

What is the History of Cloud Computing?

The first mentions about cloud computing were the 1950s. It was first pioneered by IBM, including grid, utility and on-demand computing. If you want to get more info about this period, it worth reading IBM’s blog posts with a full history of cloud computing, from mainframes to how virtualization introduced the modern-day cloud.

How Does It Work?

It is easier to divide the cloud computing work into two parts: the front end and the back end. These parts are connected via a network (usually the Internet). 

  • The front end represents the side of the computer user or customer. 
  • The back end is the cloud part of the system.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Cloud Computing

The advantages of cloud computing to customers are rather tangible. Companies adopt them in recognition of their potential to usher in a new era of effectiveness and responsiveness in IT service delivery.

There is an opinion that claims that about 75 percent of existing non-cloud applications will move to the cloud within the next 2-3 years.

The benefits of cloud computing relate to the development of new services, conducting researches and the creation of innovations. These benefits can include cost efficiency, flexibility, and elasticity, integration, audit and compliance, business continuity planning, etc.

What about the cons?

Cloud computing can also introduce some challenges for business owners and IT departments. Some of the most obvious disadvantages are problems with security and inconsistent performance.

However, these challenges can be overcome with a cloud architecture built for the workloads and through the efforts of a reliable cloud service provider.

What are the Types of Cloud Services?

Cloud computing services contain a series of features regardless of the kind of service. These features are: 

  • Emailing
  • Creating apps and their testing
  • Analyzing data
  • Storage, backup, and data retrieval
  • Audio/video streaming
  • Delivering software on demand

Three Types of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing represents a system that is comprised of three services: 

  • Software-as-a-service (SaaS)
  • Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS)
  • Platform-as-a-service (PaaS)

What is SaaS?

Software as a service solutions have become the most common and popular category of cloud computing. According to the SaaS provider principles, all software and hardware are provided and managed by a vendor. It means that clients do not need to install or configure anything. 

SaaS apps are ready to go as soon as the account is logged into with a username and password. This kind of software is hosted on a remote cloud network. It can be accessed by the customers either through the web or APIs.

SaaS quick examples: Google Apps, Salesforce, Office365

What is IaaS?

Many say that Infrastructure as a service is like a virtual data center. IaaS systems provide users with basic computing infrastructure including servers, storage, and networking resources. Thanks to the IaaS solutions, companies nan buy resources on-demand instead of investing in hardware. 

IaaS serves multiple purposes from hosting websites to running various applications. Teams that utilize Infrastructure as a Service, are responsible for managing specific aspects such as apps, OS, runtime, middleware, and data.

IaaS quick examples: GCP (Google Cloud Platform), AWS (Amazon Web Services), Microsoft Azure

What is PaaS?

Platform as a service means a framework that offers runtime environments for developing, testing, and managing applications. Using PaaS solutions, you get built-in software components that suit developers’ needs for creating applications and software. 

This cloud model allows focusing on development and ensures that all processes are simplified and hastened with no worries about infrastructure middleware or OS maintenance.

PaaS quick examples: Heroku, IBM Watson Cloud, Google App Engine

SaaS vs IaaS vs PaaS: Simple Analogy

Transport is a good analogy to quickly understand the difference between these models.

Owning a car is like an on-premise solution, meaning an IT infrastructure on-premise. Having a car, you are responsible for its maintenance and it worth purchasing a new one if you want to upgrade it. So, returning to the cloud computing models analogy:

  • Applying SaaS is like taking a public bus. This bus has a pre-determined route (or routes), so you have to take the same route while sharing the ride with other passengers.
  • Utilizing IaaS is like leasing a car: you are able to select a particular car and drive wherever and whenever you want without owning it. There is no responsibility for its maintenance. When you desire to upgrade the car – just lease a different one.
  • Using PaaS reminds hiring a taxi. You do not drive it by yourself. However, you tell the driver where you need to go and pay for the ride.

The main sense of cloud computing is to reduce the time to market of apps that need to scale dynamically. However, development teams appreciate the cloud’s abundance of great new services that can be incorporated into apps.

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