Many businesses have switched their operations to the cloud. Today, businesses no longer need to save all their files in local storage drives thanks to “cloud computing”. But what exactly is cloud computing and how does it benefit businesses?
Cloud computing refers to the use and distribution of technology infrastructure from a central location to multiple users. The “cloud” is just a metaphor for the Internet and refers to a the location of applications and data that are not hosted in-house. Using applications on the cloud adds benefits for companies without the need to license new software, train new personnel, or invest in new infrastructure.
Cloud computing is not about storing your files or data on hardware. Instead, it is about sharing resources, software and information through a network, like the Internet. The information is stored in physical servers maintained by a cloud computing provider. For example, Amazon maintains AWS, and Apple maintains iCloud.
Users access the files that they store on the cloud provider’s servers via the Internet. This means they can access the files from any location and download it into devices such as PCs, smartphones and tablets. Moreover, multiple users can access the same file simultaneously from different locations and edit them in real time.
Types of Cloud Services
There are different types of cloud services targeted at different customers. The major service categories are:
Software as a Service (SaaS)
This is one of the most common services and most people refer to this model when talking about cloud services. SaaS providers offer fully functional web based application on demand to customers. Applications offered in the SaaS platform include project tracking, time management, email, CRM, ERP and others.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
PaaS providers offer infrastructure and a computing platform as a service. Businesses can use the infrastructure to develop, collaborate, test and deploy cloud solutions for their own needs. The third party cloud provider hosts the developed solutions.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS refer to fully-outsource services where a provider delivers pre-installed and configured software or hardware through a virtualized interface. Whatever users decide to use with the services is up to them. Managed hosting and development environments are good examples of IaaS offerings.
Recovery as a Service (RaaS)
RaaS solutions help companies to ensure continuity of their solutions by replacing their backup, disaster recovery, and archiving solutions in one platform. Using the infrastructures of RaaS providers, businesses can recover entire servers, data centers, and files and immediately reduce the impact of downtime in case of a disaster.
Benefits of Cloud Computing Services
Cloud computing helps businesses to be more efficient and lower their costs. Some of the benefits of the service include:
- Mobility: Users can access their documents from any part of the world as long as they are connected to the Internet. The files can also be accessed across different devices.
- Scalability: Companies can increase their cloud consumption based on their needs without the need to buy new infrastructure or train a technical team.
- Lower costs: Cloud computing enables businesses to deploy their applications faster and easier since it eliminates the need for purchasing in-house support infrastructure.
- Easy setup: Accessing cloud applications does not require any technical knowledge. In most cases, users simply need a username and password to log into their application or access their files.