Everything You Need to Know about the Cloud and Cloud Computing, Part I

cloud computing

An in-depth breakdown of the technologies involved in making up the cloud and a survey of cloud-service providers.

The cloud has become synonymous with all things data storage. It additionally equates to the many web-centric services accessing that same back-end data storage. But the term also has evolved to mean so much more.

Cloud computing provides more simplified access to server, storage, database and application resources, with users provisioning and using the minimum set of requirements they see fit to host their application needs. In the past decade alone, the paradigm shift toward a wider and more accessible network has forced both hardware vendors and service providers to rethink their strategies and cater to a new model of storing information and serving application resources. As time continues to pass, more individuals and businesses are connecting themselves to this greater world of computing.

What Is the Cloud?

Far too often, the idea of the "cloud" is confused with the general internet. Although it's true that various components making up the cloud can be accessible via the internet, they are not one and the same. In its most general terms, cloud computing enables companies, service providers and individuals to provision the appropriate amount of computing resources dynamically (compute nodes, block or object storage and so on) for their needs. These application services are accessed over a network—and not necessarily a public network. Three distinct types of cloud deployments exist: public, private and a hybrid of both.

The public cloud differentiates itself from the private cloud in that the private cloud typically is deployed in the data center and under the proprietary network using its cloud computing technologies—that is, it is developed for and maintained by the organization it serves. Resources for a private cloud deployment are acquired via normal hardware purchasing means and through traditional hardware sales channels. This is not the case for the public cloud. Resources for the public cloud are provisioned dynamically to its user as requested and may be offered under a pay-per-usage model or for free.

Some of the world's leading public cloud offering platforms include:

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • IBM Cloud (formerly SoftLayer)

As the name implies, the hybrid model allows for seamless access and transitioning between both public and private deployments, all managed under a single framework.

For those who prefer either to host their workload internally or partially on the public cloud—sometimes motivated by security, data sovereignty or compliance—private and hybrid cloud offerings continue to provide the same amount of service but all within your control.

Using cloud services enables you to achieve the following: