What is all the fuss about cloud computing and is it useful for my business? Before we tackle the question, it is useful to have some basic understanding of cloud which might clear the fog for some.
Cloud computing goes back to the 1950s with mainframe computers. It evolved to communication networks in the 60s and virtual machines in the 70s. Only when the internet started to offer significant bandwidth in the 90s did cloud computing for the general public started to really take off.
So what do you need to know about cloud? Cloud computing is the delivery of on-demand computing resources, from applications to data centers, usually through the internet on a pay-for-use basis. Cloud computing can be broken into 3 models.
What it is: IaaS public cloud providers offer storage and compute services. IaaS is one of the basic building blocks of computing which includes networking, storage, data-center space, and physical or virtual servers, that can be rented. Companies that want to build applications from ground up and control nearly all the elements will consider this model. This model requires firms to have the necessary technical skills themselves.
What it is: Next level up is PaaS, a cloud-based environment to support the cycle of building and delivering web-based applications. The cost and complexity of buying and managing underlying hardware, software, provisioning and hosting is done away with. PaaS also includes the tools and software that developers need to build applications, e.g. middleware, database management, operating systems and development tools.
What it is: SaaS is the version that most are probably familiar with. SaaS, or cloud-based applications, run on computers owned and operated by others, that connect to users’ computers. The underlying hardware and operating system are irrelevant to the end user. The user accesses the service via a web browser or app, and the service is often bought on a per-user basis.
Gartner reported that SaaS is the dominant cloud computing model, and IDC predicts it will remain dominant, just under 60% of the market segment, in 2021 where spending is made up of applications and system infrastructure software. Customer relationship management (CRM) applications and enterprise resource management (ERM) applications will account for more than 60% of all cloud applications spending through to 2021.
There are generally 4 types of cloud deployment models, namely 1) public, 2) private, 3) hybrid and 4) community cloud, as seen from the excerpts of the 2 slides below. See HERE for presentation on what is cloud.
are owned and operated by companies that offer rapid access over a public network. Users do not need to purchase hardware, software or supporting infrastructure.
Some aspects of public cloud:
is operated for a single organisation. It can be managed or hosted internally or by a third party. Private clouds take advantage of cloud efficiencies while giving more control of resources. Some aspects of private cloud:
uses a private cloud as foundation and integrates it with the use of public cloud services. Some aspects of hybrid cloud:
are a hybrid of private clouds, built and operated for a target group who have similar cloud requirements. The management of this cloud can be either by a third party or internally. Some aspects of community cloud:
Cloud computing is still at a relatively early stage of adoption despite its long history. Usage will increase as organisations get more comfortable with the idea of their data sitting somewhere other than on their own server. Moving to the cloud can also help companies rethink business processes and accelerate business change, by helping to break down data and organisational silos.