Cloud-based networks help a business grow and expand. However, before deciding on the type of cloud computing you want to use in your business to cut costs, improve operating efficiencies and increase collaboration, you first need to understand how cloud computing itself works so that you can recognize what a vendor is offering.
What Is A Cloud Computing?
PC magazine has an excellent definition of a cloud:
“In the simplest terms, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive. The cloud is just a metaphor for the Internet. It goes back to the days of flowcharts and presentations that would represent the gigantic server-farm infrastructure of the Internet as nothing but a puffy, white cumulonimbus cloud, accepting connections and doling out information as it floats.”
One way of simplifying the complexity of a cloud from a user’s perspective is to think of it as a combination of service and deployment models.
Services and Deployment Models
Every cloud is unique in its combination of services and deployment models.
Services can be LaaS, PaaS, or SaaS.
LaaS, or Logging as a Service, gives users control of their software environment without having to invest in hardware. You won’t need to buy a server or invest in a climate-controlled room because you’ll be using the provider’s virtual machine.
PaaS, or Platform as a Service, gives users the tools they need to build their own applications. Users are free to develop games, websites, or social or mobile applications to suit their business needs. The provider gives the APIs and the environment to run them.
Saas, or Software as a Service, gives end-users everything they need when it comes to applications, including highly-sophisticated, industry-specific apps that would be prohibitively expensive to buy. All users have to do to use top of the line software is connect to the Internet with their favorite device and point their browser in the right direction. The provider not only takes care of the software, including performing upgrades, but also the technology on which it runs.
Deployment models could be private clouds, public clouds, hybrid clouds, or community clouds.
Private clouds are run for an organization which either manages itself or managed by a third party, and these private clouds can exist on or off premise.
Public clouds are open to everyone and these are managed by an independent cloud service provider.
Hybrid clouds consist of two or more clouds, and these can be either private or public clouds.
Community clouds consist of two or more clouds, but rather than serving a private group or being open to the public, they serve organizations within a community.
While a cloud can be a combination of any assortment of services and deployment models, every cloud must have a network. In fact, without a network, there is no cloud. Networks provide clouds with the infrastructure needed for users to access applications and make use of data.
However clouds are now beginning to redefine legacy networks. The entire concept of networking will change with innovations in the infrastructure, applications, accessibility, and traffic. Overtime, clouds will make network architecture less rigid, network services less location dependent, and network resources more virtual.
Selecting Your Cloud
When choosing a cloud computing provider, you need to figure out what services and deployment models work best for your organization. You also have to decide whether or not you need accelerated cloud access, network security for your virtual machines, or virtual data centers for different customer bases. In addition, you’ll also need to decide whether or not you want to operate in a large single-tier network for a large number of virtual machines.
The alternative is to find a cloud where users are free to jump form one cloud to another seamlessly without the necessity of reentering all their credentials.
The Bottom Line
Cloud computing will help you meet the future challenges and opportunities of your business. It will improve your business by reducing costs, improving flexibility and scalability, and enhancing mobility and agility. When shifting your business from the legacy model it may be using now to the cloud, you will find upgrades and business continuity easier.
On the cloud, providers take care of business concerns like upgrades, business continuity, and IT security. Subscribers don’t have to worry about staying current on their software, employees can work from anywhere, and businesses don’t have to worry about disaster-proofing their IT.
Essentially, all the costs associated with maintaining and securing a network, applications, resources, and machines are handled by cloud computing providers whose reputations and business rely on providing excellent services to subscribers. They spend significant amounts investing in top-grade data centers, secure servers, and reliable connections. Subscribers benefit enormously from the economies of scale.