What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing, often referred to as simply “the cloud,” is the delivery of on-demand computing resources—everything from applications to data centers—over the Internet and on a pay-for-use basis. Cloud computing comes into focus only when you think about what IT always needs: a way to increase capacity or add capabilities on the fly without investing in new infrastructure, training new personnel, or licensing new software. Cloud computing encompasses any subscription-based or pay-per-use service that, in real time over the Internet, extends IT’s existing capabilities. Running applications on machines in an Internet-accessible data center can bring plenty of advantages.
No matter which provider you choose, you’ll find that almost every cloud has these core characteristics:
- It is Virtual, Unlimited Compute power, Unlimited Storage
- It is Flexible and Scalable
- It is Open
- It can be Secure
It can be affordable (pay per use)
A private cloud is owned and operated by a single company that controls the way virtualized resources and automated services are customized and used by various lines of business and constituent groups. Private clouds exist to take advantage of many of cloud’s efficiencies, while providing more control of resources and steering clear of multi-tenancy.
Key characteristics of private clouds include:
A self-service interface that controls common services, allowing IT staff to quickly provision, allocate and deliver on-demand IT resources
Highly automated management of resource pools for everything from compute capability to storage, analytics, and middleware
Sophisticated security and governance designed for a company’s specific requirements
Public clouds are owned and operated by companies that use them to offer rapid access to affordable computing resources to other organizations or individuals. With public cloud services, users don’t need to purchase hardware, software or supporting infrastructure, which is owned and managed by providers.
Many businesses are using software-as-a-service (SaaS) delivered from the public cloud for applications ranging from customer resource management (CRM)—like Salesforce.com—to transaction management and data analytics.
Beyond SaaS applications, companies are using other public cloud services, including infrastructure as a service (IaaS) to add more storage or compute services on a moment’s notice, and platform as a service (PaaS) for cloud-based application development and deployment environments.
Some Public Cloud Service Providers are:
- Microsoft Windows Azure
- Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)
- IBM Smart Cloud
- Oracle Cloud
- Google AppEngine
A hybrid cloud uses a private cloud foundation combined with the strategic use of public cloud services. The reality is a private cloud can’t exist in isolation from the rest of a company’s IT resources and the public cloud. Most companies with private clouds will evolve to manage workloads across data centers, private clouds and public clouds—thereby creating hybrid clouds.
Evolving to a hybrid cloud strategy will allow companies to keep critical line of business applications and sensitive data in a traditional data center environment or private cloud, while also taking advantage of public cloud resources like SaaS for the latest applications and IaaS for elastic, economical virtual resources to scale. The ability to efficiently and securely manage the combination of public and private cloud services as a single unified computing environment is the key capability to fully taking advantage of the cloud.