What is Cloud Computing?

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Cloud Computing

What is Cloud Computing?

If you're unsure about what Cloud Computing is, you are probably among the 95% of people that are already using cloud services, like online banking and social networks, but don't realize it.

The "cloud" is a set of different types of hardware and software that work collectively to deliver many aspects of computing to the end-user as an online service.

Cloud Computing is the use of hardware and software to deliver a service over a network (typically the Internet). With cloud computing, users can access files and use applications from any device that can access the Internet.

An example of a Cloud Computing provider is Google's Gmail. Gmail users can access files and applications hosted by Google via the internet from any device.

Types Of Cloud Computing

The definition of cloud computing has evolved over the years. Initially, it was simply about being able to access and store data over the internet instead of your computer's hard drive. However, with advancements in technology, it now encompasses a broad range of services delivered on demand to companies and customers over the internet. In the following sections, we’ll explore these different types of cloud computing in detail.

Private Clouds

A private cloud is a dedicated and secure cloud environment designed for a single business or organization. It encompasses files, applications, storage, and services that are securely housed within a corporate firewall and managed by the organization's IT department. This model provides the organization with complete control over their data, tools, and access privileges. Offering enhanced security, a private cloud can be tailored to align with the specific needs and requirements of your business.

Public Clouds

Public Clouds are a type of cloud computing where a third-party provider delivers resources and services to multiple customers over the internet. This model, which includes files, applications, storage, and services available to the public, is often seen as a cost-effective option. As a customer, you pay only for the services you use.

Hybrid Clouds

Hybrid Clouds integrate private and public clouds, permitting data and applications to be interchanged between them. This model provides greater flexibility and more deployment options, enabling businesses to maximize their existing infrastructure, security, and compliance. Additionally, a hybrid cloud can allow you to securely store sensitive data in a private cloud while other data can be stored in a public cloud. Despite their integration, both infrastructures are maintained as separate, distinct entities.

Multicloud and Hybrid Multicloud

The differences between hybrid cloud and multicloud can be confusing since both terms are often used interchangeably. Despite their similarities, they do have a key distinction that sets them apart.

A multicloud environment refers to the use of multiple public cloud services, often from different providers. To give you an example, a company might choose to host its website on one cloud service, while its email servers might be hosted on another.

Hybrid cloud computing encompasses private cloud infrastructure - like a company's own data center - along with one or more public cloud services. These services usually operate in sync to achieve business objectives.

Therefore, the main differences between multicloud and hybrid multicloud boil down to two points. Hybrid multicloud always incorporates a private cloud and they're generally managed as a single entity. Multiclouds aren't required to have the private cloud component, but they can. In such instances, they may be characterized as both multicloud and hybrid multicloud.

Types of Cloud Computing Services

Cloud computing as a service has revolutionized the IT industry by offering flexible and scalable solutions for businesses of all sizes. From providing raw computing resources to offering fully managed software applications, understanding these different types can help businesses choose the right cloud services that align with their specific needs and goals.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provides the high-level infrastructure of a technology setup, made available over the internet. With IaaS, you have access to storage and networking resources, servers, data center spaces, and more. It's a flexible model that lets you pay for what you use, offering scalability and workspace control without needing to physically maintain any hardware.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a type of cloud computing service that provides a platform for developers to build, test, and run their applications. With PaaS, developers can focus on their core task of software creation, as the managing of servers, storage, networking, and databases is handled by the cloud service provider.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Software as a Service (SaaS) is a software distribution model wherein applications are hosted by a vendor or service provider and made available to customers over the internet. SaaS is typically subscription-based, where users pay a monthly or annual fee for using the software. It's very user-friendly as the providers manage all potential technical issues like data security, performance, and maintenance.

Benefits of Cloud Computing

Why have so many businesses been shifting their operations to the cloud? The simple answer is the numerous, powerful advantages of cloud computing. Deploying technology through the cloud can give businesses a competitive edge in numerous ways.

Cost Efficiency

Cloud computing eliminates the need for substantial investments in IT infrastructure, saving you a considerable amount upfront. By only paying for what you use, the cost-efficiency of cloud services is greatly enhanced.


Depending on a company's IT requirements, cloud computing facilitates easy scaling up or down. In response to business growth or a drop in the need for resources, services can be adjusted effortlessly.


For companies with remote workers or those spread across various locations, the ability to access work-related files and applications from anywhere is a significant game-changer.

Disaster Recovery

Data stored in the cloud is protected from physical damage that can occur in an office setting. It's easier to recover information since it's kept in a secure, remote location.

Collaboration Efficiency

With cloud computing, teams can collaborate effectively, whether they're working from the office or remotely. Simultaneous sharing of documents, updates, and tasks makes operations smoother.

Automatic Updates

Cloud computing suppliers ensure that systems stay up-to-date with the latest software upgrades, including security updates. This reduces the time and effort needed from an in-house IT team.

Cloud Security

Cloud computing security, which is the practice of protecting your data, is an essential aspect of the discussion around utilizing cloud services. In an era where cyber attacks are increasingly prevalent, its importance has never been more critical. This security involves a combination of strategic measures, processes, and technology solutions, all designed to safeguard the data, applications, and infrastructure within your cloud setup.

Best Practices for Cloud Security

As we unlock the benefits of cloud security, the following are various practices you can put into practice to bolster the safety of your data.

Shared Responsibility

The safety of data isn't just the responsibility of the cloud service provider; it's a collaborative commitment. Both the provider and the user have roles to play, from keeping the overall system secure to managing individual data and applications.

Data Encryption

Encrypting data, both in transit and at rest, adds an additional layer of security. This safeguards the data from being accessed or read if intercepted, ensuring it remains confidential and secure.

Management of User Identity and Access

Having strong control over who gets access to what information is critical. An effective identity and access management (IAM) system ensures that only authorized individuals can access your sensitive data and resources.

Collaborative Management

Promoting a culture of shared awareness and responsibility across all levels of an organization enhances cloud security. It ensures that everyone understands their role in maintaining security.

Security and Compliance Monitoring

Regularly monitor and adjust your security measures to ensure they’re up-to-date and compliant with your regulations. Automation can be used to enforce policies and provide real-time alerts about any potential threats.

By adopting these practices, you can create a secure cloud environment, protecting your valuable data.

How is computing from the Cloud different from computing from my PC's hard drive?

Unlike traditional computing where data is stored on your PC's local hard drive, the data in the cloud is stored on many physical and/or virtual servers that are hosted by a third-party service provider. An example of a cloud computing file storage provider Dropbox. Dropbox files can be accessed from any device via the Internet.

What are public and private Clouds?

A Public Cloud is based on the standard cloud computing framework which consists of files, applications, storage and services available to the public via the internet. Gmail is an example of a Public Cloud.

A Private Cloud is comprised of files, applications, storage and services that are implemented and protected within a corporate firewall, under the control of a corporate IT department. An example of a Private Cloud would be a company that uses Microsoft Exchange because Microsoft Exchange can only be accessed by an authorized user through a secure VPN connection.

What are some common Cloud services and companies?

Some common services that are hosted in the cloud are hosted desktop, provided by companies like AT&T; hosted email like Gmail, provided by companies like Google; cloud storage, provided by companies like Dropbox; and streaming music, provided by companies like Spotify. These services, applications and files are stored in the cloud and can be accessed by users via any device.

There are a wide range of companies and industry verticals that use cloud computing such as Amazon and Google. Small, medium, and large size public and private companies alike use cloud computing to reduce technology acquisition costs.

Do I need Cloud computing?

The Cloud Computing market continues to grow year after year because companies are becoming more aware of the cost saving benefits of adopting the cloud.

With Hardware services, companies are able to use the cloud service provider's equipment (storage, hardware, servers, and networking components) instead of spending large amounts of capital on equipment.

With Software services, companies' applications are hosted by the cloud service provider and are made available over a network saving costly deployment and maintenance costs.

Are my files safe in the Cloud?

While no storage solution is 100% safe, cloud storage providers can offer a safer and more accessible place for companies to store data than traditional computing methods.

Depending on the service contract, duplicate copies of the companies' data can be stored on servers located in different geographies and protected by backup power supplies in the case of a disaster.

Today, many companies are moving to a Hybrid Cloud Computing model. With this model, companies are given the flexibility of storing sensitive data securely in a private cloud while storing public data in a public cloud. Both infrastructures are kept as separate, unique entities.

What the Cloud is NOT?

The cloud is not a fluffy white mass made up of tiny water droplets floating in cyberspace. The cloud is not impacted by weather changes like barometric pressure.

The cloud is not a place in a single location. In fact, the cloud can be anywhere. The cloud can be in your companies' data center or hosted at a 3rd party data center.

The growth of the cloud is not being driven by "big business." The growth of the cloud is being driven by consumers buying cloud ready devices that can connect to cloud computing services at work, at home, and on-the-go.

The cloud is not "a fad." There are currently 1.2 billion people using Facebook worldwide. That number represents 11% of the world's population.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an example of Cloud Computing?

An example of cloud computing is the use of web-based email services. Instead of running an email program from a local server or a personal computer, you can log into a web-based service that provides the full functionality of an email program through a browser interface. All the processing and storage are maintained on the service's cloud servers, demonstrating a practical application of cloud computing.

What does Cloud Computing actually do?

Cloud computing provides on-demand delivery of computing services over the internet. This includes servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and even artificial intelligence. Instead of owning and maintaining physical data centers and servers, businesses can access technology services, such as computing power or storage, on an as-needed basis from a cloud provider. This allows for cost savings, increased productivity, speed and efficiency, improved flexibility, and scalability.

What are the security risks of Cloud Computing?

Data Breaches
Unauthorized access to sensitive data can lead to data leaks, affecting the privacy of users and the reputation of your business.

Insecure APIs
If you use APIs to provide interfaces for cloud services, they can be a weak link if not properly secured, potentially leading to security issues.

Account Hijacking
If a malicious actor gains access to your cloud service account, they can manipulate data, eavesdrop on activities, and redirect transactions.

Insider Threats
Your employees with access to cloud services can pose a risk if they intentionally or unintentionally misuse their access

Data Loss
The data you store in the cloud could be lost through a malicious attack, accidental deletion, or a physical catastrophe like a fire or earthquake at the data center.

Inadequate Due Diligence
If your company doesn't fully understand the cloud environment when migrating, it can lead to security gaps in your system.

What is virtualization in Cloud Computing?

Virtualization in cloud computing is the process of creating a virtual version of something, such as a server, storage device, network, or even an operating system. It allows for the creation of multiple simulated environments or dedicated resources from a single, physical hardware system. This is a fundamental technology that powers cloud computing, enabling multiple users to utilize resources simultaneously, thereby improving efficiency and scalability.

Why is Cloud Computing important?

Cloud computing can offer your business flexibility and scalability when it comes to computing needs. It allows for easy access to information, rapid deployment of resources, and cost savings as you will only pay for what you use. Additionally, it facilitates remote work by enabling access to work materials from anywhere with an internet connection. Cloud computing also provides robust disaster recovery solutions, ensuring business continuity in the face of unexpected events.

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