Cloud Computing Quiz: What, Why and How

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A growing buzz around cloud computing means almost everyone has heard about the topic. On top of that, the most famous digital companies use it in their operations. Instagram, for instance, used a public cloud to store users’ photos, until the app was bought by Facebook and storage shifted to the social media giant’s private cloud. Why did they make this decision, and how can you get an understanding of which cloud computing option is the best fit for a particular company? Let’s dive deeper into cloud computing and look at everything we know about the cloud.

What Is Hidden Behind Cloud Computing?

Oxford Dictionary defines cloud computing as the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer.

Microsoft explains cloud computing as the delivery of computing services such as servers, storage, networking, software, databases, and analytics over the internet in order to provide flexible resources, rapid innovation, and economies at scale.

As such, cloud computing is simply the act of storing and processing your data somewhere “in the cloud” rather than on your local server. On the one hand, it offers huge advantages, because you don’t need to buy expensive hardware, hire more

team members to operate it, or worry about possible damages or problems like electrical outage. On the other hand, your data is stored somewhere else, and the value of the data is a key factor: Is it going to be secure?

Leading cloud services providers like Google, Microsoft and Amazon say yes. These tech giants assure clients that they provide a highly secure environment by offering a set of policies, technologies, and controls to strengthen their security.

The cloud service market offers various options and continual security improvements to meet the needs of a wide audience. To avoid any confusion about these services, we’re going to analyze
them all.


How Can You Apply
Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing incorporates three models: IaaS, PaaS and SaaS.

Infrastructure as a service, or IaaS, is the most basic category of cloud computing services. In IaaS you simply rent IT infrastructure including networks, data storage, servers and virtual machines, so that you gain access to a virtual environment where your team can develop solutions on a pay-as-you-go basis. This model is mostly used by companies striving to build software solutions from the ground up, and who want control over almost every infrastructure element.

At the same time, the higher control level requires higher responsibilities, like having enough skilled professionals to orchestrate services. Research results from Oracle show that two-thirds of IaaS users believe the model simplifies innovations, cuts new app deployment terms, and decreases ongoing maintenance costs. Even so, 50 percent of respondents said IaaS is not fully secure when it comes to critically valuable data.

Platform as a service, or PaaS, is used by software development engineers as a closed-environment laboratory for application development and testing. PaaS is the next stage up from the SaaS model; in addition to virtual servers, storage, and networking it includes middleware, operating systems, database management, and other tools needed for development.

The difference between IaaS and PaaS models is small, so in most cases companies use them in combination. “Demand for integrated IaaS and PaaS offerings is driving the next wave of cloud infrastructure adoption,” said Sid Nag, research director at Gartner, in a 2018 press release.

Software as a service, or SaaS, is an approach for delivering applications that are accessible through a web browser or are lightweight. Such apps are also referred to as “on demand” and are provided on a subscription basis. In SaaS, the cloud provider fully ensures the hosting and maintenance of the application and its underlying infrastructure, including software upgrades and security patching. Some common examples are Google’s suite of apps (Google Drive, Gmail) and Salesforce CRM.

According to International Data Group 89 percent of companies use SaaS, and its popularity is constantly rising. Many businesses develop software products to diversify risks and yield an additional revenue channel, offering them as SaaS products. It’s vital here to find a hidden pain point that can be addressed with your application — something that’s easier said than done.

Together, these three models can be visualized as a pyramid, with IaaS at the bottom level, PaaS as the next stage up, and SaaS as the most advanced level of cloud services.

Along with the three cloud computing models, there are also three cloud types.

The first and most common type is a public cloud. Public clouds can be accessed from anywhere through the internet, there’s no need to maintain hardware, and they can be deployed fast. Users can choose from a vast number of public cloud providers who earn revenue for consumed bandwidth, storage volume, or CPU (central processing unit, where most system calculations take place) cycles.

The biggest issue with using a public cloud is security, as the same infrastructure is exploited by other companies, not just yours. Even so, correctly implemented integration with a public cloud can be just as secure as the most carefully managed private cloud, if your cloud provider applies state-of-the-art security methods like intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS). When searching for a suitable provider, make sure to review its security measures thoroughly. If you still don’t want to share data centers with other users, you can opt to work with a private cloud instead.

The second type of cloud is a private cloud. These clouds are designed for a single organization, and they’re far more secure than the public cloud. Nonetheless, increased security translates into additional costs, as only the world’s top companies can yield the same economies of scale as giants like Microsoft or Google. For this reason, mid-level businesses should never build their own cloud if there is no real necessity to do it. Besides, not all of the data or projects from a given company requires high-level protection, so you can use both private and public solutions, choosing a hybrid cloud.

The third type of cloud is a hybrid cloud, which combines private and public cloud solutions. In hybrid clouds, some data is placed in the public cloud, while other projects or applications are kept in the private cloud. Research by TechRepublic shows the main reasons companies choose the hybrid cloud option are disaster recovery planning and to bypass hardware costs while expanding an existing data center. Apple, for example, uses private infrastructure for computing and energy, but also uses public cloud services provided by Microsoft, AWS, and Google.

How popular is each type of cloud solution? According to statistics provided by RightScale, on average companies run 38 percent of their workloads in public clouds and 41 percent in private clouds. Statistics differ by company size. For example, enterprises use private clouds rather than public (46 percent vs. 33 percent), while small and medium businesses mostly use the public cloud (43 percent) and rarely subscribe to expensive private solutions. However, public cloud spending is increasing for both enterprises and small to medium businesses, while public cloud spending is growing three times faster than private cloud usage.

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