What Is Cloud Computing? Here is Everything You Need To Know!
Cloud computing has been all the rage for a while now! Even if you are not directly working in the technology industry, chances are you have heard phrases like, “Everything is moving to the cloud!” “Just upload it to the cloud!” “Don’t you have it backed up on the cloud?” amongst many others being casually thrown around.
The fact is that cloud computing is everywhere! And its demand is only going to increase, which raises a lot of fundamental questions like, “What exactly is the Cloud?” “What does it all include?” “Is my data even safe in the cloud?” “How does the Cloud Work?”, “As a business do I need to invest in the Cloud?”, “Is A Job In The Cloud Even Worth It?” and “Why Is Cloud Computing All The Rage?” If you are even a little bit curious about exploring cloud technology and how you as an individual, enterprise, or professional can benefit from it, this guide is for YOU!
Let us start with the basics; what exactly is cloud computing?
Simply put, cloud computing is a term used to describe the internet to provide computing services like storage, servers, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence. This is done to optimize resources, create an agile and dynamic workflow, and provide economies of scale. As a result, cloud technology allows you to cut costs, use resources more flexibly, and allow for more innovation.
Where Is The Cloud Working From?
Okay, by now, we know you know that cloud computing operates by leveraging the internet to provide users with various services. However, where exactly is your data being stored ultimately? What infrastructure is helping cloud services operate smoothly? Does the interweb have an address?
Now we are apologizing in advance for popping your bubble if you thought that your data in the cloud was coming from real clouds formed by a cluster of algorithmic data that pours into your screen after getting heavy from all the information it stores. In actuality, there are physical storage centers known as data centers that store all the information that helps your cloud services to operate smoothly.
How are cloud data centers different from traditional ones?
Every business needs a data center. This unit stores all the essential information a company needs to access, run and scale its operations. It includes company information, assets, and applications. Traditional data centers are physical storage units with huge hard disks that store a company’s data. These are expensive, require external storage costs, and are time-consuming and complicated to upgrade. In contrast, cloud data centers store your data on the internet, providing you with a more affordable option, making it easier for your business to scale up or scale down, and providing you with the ease to choose your service providers based on your location in quicker access.
Major cloud services like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft all have their own data centers. These giants are backed with billions of dollars which means many resources are being pumped in to provide you with the highest quality of services. In fact, companies like Google are heavily investing in building more data centers and improving the efficiency of their existing ones. By choosing to opt with a cloud data center, you are also making a more sustainable choice as a business.
The major cloud giants like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM all offer cloud infrastructure that companies of all sizes can leverage to innovate and provide their unique services without worrying about the overheads or hefty investments in equipment. For example, the popular e-learning platform Khan Academy uses the Google Cloud App Engine to provide e-learning services to over 18 Million+ students each month.
Similarly, Amazon Web Services are used by the ultimate streaming service Netflix and the world’s most famous professional networking platform LinkedIn uses Microsoft Azure. In addition, Microsoft Azure offers their platform to some of the biggest brands in the world, like Samsung and eBay too. Furthermore, companies with cloud data centers are renting out their infrastructure to help enterprises in every part and field of the world provide their services seamlessly. As a result, cloud data centers play a big role in making technological innovations and advancements accessible in today’s world.
Being green always costs a lot of green itself! Thus, making it difficult for small businesses to make eco-friendly choices. However, companies like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon have the resources to make more sustainable choices. By choosing to use cloud data centers and services, you hence choose sustainability and green choices. For instance, Google aims at using 24/7 green and clean energy across all their data centers by 2030. In addition, Microsoft Azure offers a 98% more carbon-efficient footprint than a traditional data center.
What Are The Different Types Of Cloud Computing?
There are three main types of cloud computing: private clouds, public clouds, and hybrid clouds. There are also three main types of cloud computing services: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platforms-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), but more on that later!
Public Clouds: Owned and managed by third-party cloud providers, companies that offer cloud computing resources like servers and storage over the internet. Companies take full responsibility to provide you with and manage the hardware, software, and other infrastructure you need for your cloud services. You can access these services and manage your account from anywhere using a web browser. Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services are a few such examples of public cloud services.
Private Cloud: As the name suggests, this is a private network belonging to a single business/entity. This cloud is physically located on the company’s on-site data center. Its services and infrastructure are owned, managed, and maintained by the business itself. Companies can also host their private networks through third-party service providers.
Hybrid cloud: An amalgamation of public and private clouds, cloud services that fuse technology to share data, and application transfer between private and public clouds. A hybrid cloud offers great flexibility, more deployment options and helps in powering up your existing infrastructure, security, and compliance.
A Cloud Comparison: Not all cloud requirements require the same type of cloud computing. The cloud architecture you choose to deploy your services on will differ based on your individual or enterprise requirements. One needs to consider three different factors before choosing to deploy cloud services: on a public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud.
What Are The Different Types Of Cloud Computing Services?
Now that we have covered the cloud architecture used to deploy your services, let us move onto the services themselves! Cloud computing can be divided into three major categories: infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS). These are often clubbed together as a cloud servicing stack as they build on top of one another. Being aware of what they are and how they differ can help you structure your business better!
SaaS: Software as a Service
These are cloud application services that are made available to users through the internet. They are managed by third-party vendors and are made available typically on a subscription basis. With SaaS, cloud providers host and manage the software application and underlying infrastructure and handle any maintenance, like software upgrades and security patching. Users can connect to this software using a web browser or an application available to them via their phones and other computing devices. This takes away the hassle of figuring out how cloud computing works; one can simply focus on choosing the software that directly fits their needs.
IaaS: Infrastructure as a Service
In this model, the most basic service offered in cloud computing is the server, storage, and network resources delivered to the subscribers via the internet. This infrastructure allows organizations to adapt to cloud computing, resulting in faster and more efficient workflows. IaaS providers also enable users with a variety of other services such as:
- Detailed billing
- Log Access
- Storage Resilience (like providing with backups)
- Load Balancing
PaaS: Platform as a Service
Key Benefits Of Cloud Computing
Now, if you have made it this far in the article, we are sure you have read how great and in-demand cloud computing is over a dozen times, but let us get to what makes it such a hot topic! The world we live in is controlled and run by technology. Tech is at the heart of accelerating every business’s growth, and cloud technology play a pivotal role in making resources more accessible, affordable, and flexible to people/enterprises. Here are some key benefits of cloud computing:
- Lesser IT costs: With cloud computing, you pay for what you use. This level of flexibility in being able to save a lot more money. It also saves you from the hassle of purchasing heavy systems and storing equipment in your business facility. You cut down on energy consumption, time delays, costly maintenance of hardware.
- Scalability: If we have learnt anything from the pandemic, it is important to have an agile business structure. Time, economy, social factors, and competition, virtually anything for that matter, can cause your business needs to change. You may suddenly be forced into expanding or downsizing quickly. This is where cloud computing comes to the rescue; using the cloud frees up your time, investment, and hassle of looking into installations of expensive upgrades. You can scale up or scale down your operation and storage needs with instant ease.
- Securing Trade Secrets: A business’s data over the years is valuable in planning its continuity. Having your work in a safe and secure space is crucial! With cloud computing, your data is safe on the internet; you can protect it from any natural disasters, power failures, or any other crisis. This eliminates any downtime or loss of productivity.
- Efficient for Teams: With the help of cloud computing, you can share information and work more freely. Cloud enables you to share your project easily, making it possible for team members to work together despite their geographical barriers. It gives you an added flexibility in choosing your work practices and is how the entire world has shifted to a work from the home model during the pandemic.
- Easy Integration: Cloud computing makes it extremely easy for individuals to automate their daily tasks. You can share information from one application to another with quick ease and create a fully integrated workspace.
- Speedy Implementation: With self-service and on-demand availability of cloud services, businesses can access these resources within a few minutes.
- Deploy globally in minutes: You can expand to locations across the world in just minutes. With cloud servers available across the world, you can deploy with infrastructure closer to your audience, ensuring that they face lesser latency issues, and
With the cloud, you can expand to new geographic regions and deploy globally in minutes. For example, AWS has infrastructure worldwide so that you can deploy your application in multiple physical locations with just a few clicks. Putting applications in closer proximity to end users reduces latency and improves their experience.
How Safe Is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing uses the internet to make your data, systems, and applications accessible to you. However, having your information on servers that are not entirely under your control may cause you to question its safety standards.
It is natural to wonder if your data is secure when it is stored in the cloud infrastructure. Here is the kicker, though: The data that you save with cloud service providers is probably safer than the data stored on your computer’s hard drive. Viruses and malware can infiltrate data on your physical servers. The security measures taken by large cloud service providers are likely to be more powerful and robust than what you have on your personal devices.
How is data protected in the cloud?
There are a bunch of security measures that are taken to prevent your data from any misuse. For starters, the servers are located in warehouses that very limited workers have access to. The files are also encrypted, making it difficult for cybercriminals to access.
Here is how you can be assured that cloud computing is a secured space for storing your data:
- Frequent Security Updates: While we as individuals may be guilty of frequently hitting snooze on our safety updates, the world of computer security is very different. Cloud companies that overlook your cloud servers consistently update their security measures to ensure that your data is protected.
- Built-In Firewalls: Cloud providers have built-in firewalls that protect your data. This firewall can be hardware or software-based and acts as a barrier that filters out suspicious and unwanted traffic. This makes it difficult for hackers to slip viruses past you.
- Third-Party Testing: Cloud service providers usually encourage third-party testers to hack and find weaknesses in their current systems. This way, they ensure that they are regularly working on and protecting themselves from hackers. Giant cloud service providers even have programs like the Google Vulnerability program that offers these ethical hackers a bounty prize ranging between 100 USD- 30,000 USD to find bugs in their processes.
- Auto Patching and AI: Cloud providers use AI to protect your data. They use built-in algorithms to find and identify any vulnerabilities in their existing security measures. Thus enabling them to carry out safety checks regularly.
- Ultra-Backed-Up Data: One of the biggest issues with storing your data on a physical hard disk is the risk of losing it to a natural cause. What do you do if there is a power outage or if someone spills water all over your hard disk? With cloud storage, your data is always backed up; in fact, they back up your data several times over. That way, you can access it from a backup server if anything goes wrong.
How can you, as a user, ensure that your data is safe?
Here are a few ways that you can enhance your safety while using the cloud:
- Data Encryption: Make sure that you use a cloud service provider that encrypts your data. This way, it is more difficult for hackers to get your information since it is all scrambled.
- Always Backup your Data: Do not store all your information on one server; the chances are that you may not be able to access it if it goes offline. Consider backing it up on a second server this way, and you are adding an extra layer of protection.
- Use two-factor authentication and unique passwords: Yes, having those rules that force you to include a special character, your favourite song, and the answer to your existential crises in your password seems annoying at the time, but it makes it hard for people to guess your password! Consider having different passwords for your accounts. Please ensure you do not keep something super common to guess like yournameand123. Also, always opt for two-factor authentication when given a choice. This way, you always receive a code on your email or cellular device, giving your data an extra layer of protection, and notifying you anytime anyone tries logging in to your ID!
How Can A Start-Up Benefit From Cloud Computing?
Running a startup is always overwhelming; there is always so much to do and often not enough resources to make this transition smooth. Calculating growth at an early level can be difficult, and the needs of a startup often grow and change quite quickly. Initially, to start a business, individuals required a heavy amount of capital investment, availability, and access to the internet; however, it has changed this for the better. With cloud technology, it is possible for anyone with internet access to store, manage and share their data with the world. The number of applications available through cloud computing has benefitted startups in managing their day-to-day business needs with ease.
For example, a startup can manage its design through cloud computing applications like Canvas, automate its payroll cycle with cloud applications like HR. That provides employees with an entire dashboard to access all the essential information regarding their work life. Moving to the cloud eliminates such up-front costs, leaving businesses with more capital at hand to invest in other business plans. Cloud computing also makes it possible for startups to automate their work, focusing on more strategic tasks.
A Cloud Computing Checklist For Enterprises Looking To Make The Switch
Any change in a business comes with its level of risks and opportunity costs. If you are a business looking to make the switch to cloud computing, here are a few pointers that can help you make this transition a bit smoother!
- Consult a cloud expert: This one is basic. Having a strong cloud expert or a board of risk advisors can help you make the right choices. They understand your business plans, budgets, and functioning and accordingly suggest applications, providers, and resources to help mitigate your risk when migrating to the cloud.
- Try a Hybrid Approach: Do not completely abandon your on-premise services. Start by having a hybrid approach that enhances your on-premise services. Depending on your comfort, you can then continue to invest more heavily in cloud services. Research by RightScale has found that up to 82% of businesses prefer a hybrid approach to cloud computing.
- Choose a security-first approach: While most people often fear the cloud and the internet when it comes to security, you can often change this around by choosing a security-first approach to cloud computing. You can always check the security measures that cloud service providers offer on their websites, and if those do not satisfy you, shooting them an email with your concerns can help clear up any doubts or hesitations you might have.
- Keep up with maintenance and compliance: Cloud service providers often notify you in advance of their maintenance checks. Inform your employees in advance and plan your work accordingly to avoid any discrepancies caused by the downtime. Also, ensure that you comply with regulatory obligations like making your employees register for two-factor authentication, reminding them to reset their passwords every 90 days, and terminating employee privileges once they quit ensuring that your data is not accessible to personnel after they are no longer a part of your business.
- Use cloud-based apps and services: Cloud applications allow enterprises to work flexibly. They can easily collaborate with their teams despite geographical limitations; it also offloads the pressure off your in-house IT teams, as these services often come with excellent customer service that can help your employees troubleshoot their issues with ease. Cloud services can also easily be automated and integrated to provide you with optimal workflow efficiency.
Who are the Major Players Of Cloud Computing?
The universe of cloud computing is huge; countless applications and services offer services using the cloud, but who are the major players in the cloud computing industry? Why do they matter?
The key players in the cloud computing universe are your famous everyday brands like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. You also have other giants like IBM, Salesforce, and Oracle but let us focus on the big three!
- Google Cloud Platform: Present in over 200+ countries with over 27+ cloud regions, Google is one of the leading cloud service providers in the world. Google is, anyhow, popularly known as the front page of the internet! They provide everything from cloud infrastructure to automation, resources, databases, and applications/services for everyday users. Google offers a range of cloud certifications that help to invalidate people’s cloud skills and add to their growing community of developers and cloud experts.
- Amazon Web Services: Amazon offers over 100+ cloud services and products to users and enterprises across the globe. The backbone of the internet’s eCommerce services, Amazon is a leading player in providing reliable and inexpensive cloud services. They also provide 18 certification courses and aim to train 29 million professionals with knowledge of cloud computing. This creates a massive opening for highly employable jobs in the upcoming future.
- Microsoft Azure: They provide on-premise, hybrid and multi-cloud services. The open-source at Azure allows developers to innovate faster by leveraging cloud computing. Microsoft Azure offers the most variety in picking regions to deploy your services. They also account for 22% of the total market share for cloud service providers, making a certification by Microsoft Azure a highly valuable addition to any CV.
Overall, these giants are crucial to the future of the internet and enterprises and the global employment pool. They offer services that are helping businesses evolve and sustain themselves. The opportunity and training these companies to offer to enable individuals to land high-paying and high-growth jobs that can be career-defining.
What Is The Future Of Cloud Computing? What is Next?
Cloud computing has single-handedly helped the world be connected digitally. It provides a comprehensive source of jobs, applications, services, and platforms that benefit users individually, enterprises, and global economic scale. The future is cloud computing is very wide and bright, offering scope for a lot of innovation and further technological advancement.
Let us first pause and take a look at the everyday application of cloud service. When you stop and reflect, you will notice the use of the cloud in your everyday life. It has slowly replaced all your activities. Businesses like Blockbuster that required physical stores and bulky VCR/DVD rentals have been replaced by streaming services like Netflix, and Amazon Prime, so much so that they are also competing with the traditional cable tv business!
Similarly, hard disks have been replaced by cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and iCloud. Accounting applications and sales software have moved online and onto the cloud with apps like Zoho, Salesforces, HR, My, and Airtable. Everywhere you look, you will find the use of the cloud! The wide use of the cloud is one of the major reasons the world moved to a remote working format during the Covid 19 pandemic.
Now coming back to the future of cloud, here are a few trends and predictions for the future of cloud computing:
- Increased Emphasis on Security: Data privacy and security is one of the major concerns of individuals and enterprises across the globe. Apple uses its high security as a competitive edge over other brands to market to its users. Investing in certifications that focus on cloud and data security can provide individuals with a competitive edge when choosing a job.
- Internet of Things: IoT devices like Alexa have helped people achieve their dream of having futuristic houses like Jetsons or Back to the Future. The fascination with automation and artificial intelligence is pushing people to develop more and more futuristic devices consistently. Cloud computing will play a driving force in enabling connectivity across IOT devices.
- Growth of Cloud Corporations: We have already spoken about the high demand for cloud engineers and developers, but what about cloud computing itself? Cloud computing is a growing space, and corporations are attracted towards innovating and establishing themselves in this area. Users can expect heavy investments and newer entries in the market of cloud computing in the coming years. By 2022 itself, the industry is estimated to be valued at a whopping 354 billion USD.
- Cloud will play a key role in enhancing business growth: Cloud computing will heavily drive digital transformation, which will, in turn, boost business growth and opportunities. The coming years can see an increase in PaaS, SaaS, and enterprise-centric cloud services. This also means there will be a need for a large development on the data storage and security standard side.
What Is The Impact Caused By The High Demand For Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing has transformed the way IT solutions are being delivered and consumed by users. With everything moving to the internet, services have become more accessible, affordable, and flexible, allowing businesses across the globe to be more efficient, innovative, and resourceful in their daily operations. Almost everything on a global scale is affected by cloud technology. Humans use it from the simplest of tasks like sending files to daily essentials like net banking. In addition, IoT, automation, artificial intelligence, and other devices paving the tech industry’s future are also leveraging cloud computing.
This high demand for cloud computing has made it one of the most lucrative career options out there. The future in the cloud is immense, so much so that 28% of all certifications earned in 2020 were in cloud computing. Cloud certifications can help individuals score a job with some of the biggest brands in the world right now like: Google, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, and many more!
Start your journey to getting certified with the inclusive self-practice tests offered by QwikSkills.