What are the Different Elements of Cloud Computing?

‘What is cloud computing’, a question which both technically informed and non-tech savvy companies often ask. In this discussion, we will look at what cloud computing is and the elements which make it such a successful solution today.

Introduction

Cloud computing technology delivers secure, hosted and configurable services over the internet as an alternative to implementing them on a PC, server or an organization’s network. Rich applications and massive on-demand computing resources like data centers, applications, networking, software, storage and analytics are provided on the basis of pay-for-use. Using cloud computing, users can scale up or scale down to match their business needs.

Organizations are increasingly moving towards cloud computing to create a complete IT infrastructure with measurable enterprise-class benefits. This is because the technology requires minimal upfront investments with simplified hardware and application installation. A fast and reliable internet connection and a network built to meet future use cases are all that businesses need for leveraging the maximum potential of cloud computing.

Considering the competitive technology-driven landscape in today’s world, users embracing cloud computing technology demand watertight information security governance and compliance to safeguard data, applications and IT infrastructure. Organizations also require access to the same resources and applications via the internet which they would otherwise receive from a PC. Keeping these in view, there are specific characteristics which constitute an effective cloud computing strategy.

Public Cloud

The public cloud model involves making resources like storage space, networking, interfaces, applications and VMs available to the general community online. Shifting storage and IT assets to the public cloud frees up onsite space and other resources in the datacenter. This improves performance and allows businesses to implement mission critical programs and focus on analytics for achieving actionable outcomes.

Essentially, the public cloud provides configurable horsepower and significant resource pools for fulfilling varying levels of IT capacity. These eliminate the need to purchase extra servers or other on-premises equipment for accommodating transient applications and workloads. The reason is that companies will only need to manage the cost of temporary resources instead of investing in additional infrastructure which may remain idle and become redundant over time. Hence, the hosted cloud solution supports variable user demand and system requirements. This improves overall operational agility and responsiveness to changes in business activity especially for companies managing seasonal peaks.

Furthermore, the public cloud is location independent. Geographically dispersed users can always access its services anytime and on every web-enabled device. Such remote access to IT systems and resources improves productivity by optimizing real-time collaboration among team members scattered across different locations.

Another crucial component of public cloud is the vast flexibility it offers. Users can fulfill small scale and industry level business needs by accessing several SaaS, PaaS and IaaS services on any connected device across the public cloud. An understanding of the basic differences between SaaS, PaaS and IaaS models will allow businesses to find the best cloud solution for matching their specific needs.

In Software as a Service (SaaS), third party service providers centrally host software and applications and make them available to customers online on the subscription-based pricing model. SaaS eliminates upfront costs and minimizes the overall cost of ownership because organizations do not need a dedicated IT staff to deploy, manage and upgrade software.

Platform as a Service (PaaS) facilitates environments where service providers manage the OS, server hardware, software and network infrastructure. This allows users to focus solely on building, running and managing applications and scale up resources based entirely on need, hence eliminating unnecessary hardware investments.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) delivers on-demand, metered and scalable virtualized computing resources which users can requisition for enterprise-level initiatives. IaaS is often considered as the most versatile solution for cloud computing best practices because it offers exceptional business agility in terms of scaling compute on demand.

We recommend you to research your options online for selecting between SaaS, PaaS and IaaS cloud services as your choice depends entirely on which solution best fits your business goals.

Private Cloud

This cloud-based environment distributes IT assets over private computing infrastructure to fulfill business needs and objectives of users, clients and partners within a single organization. The private cloud offers a secure internal environment where IT can configure network, hardware and data storage for high security and protection against access from other clients within the same datacenter. Using this system, companies can customize storage, hardware and network performance in the cloud for meeting changing and developing user demands.

The private cloud configuration is specifically suitable for medium and large enterprises as it offers the highest standard of administrative control, transparency, physical data proximity, privacy and security. This is on account of stack visibility where the cloud-enabled environment offers complete visibility and insights into the complete stack. In this way, IT administrators can effectively track every application, infrastructure and virtualization layer.

Considering that organizations will have workloads which contain more sensitive data than others, they demand high quality standards from the exclusive virtual access which private clouds provide. Overall, these factors play an integral role in helping users make smart and quick business decisions.

Hybrid Cloud

The hybrid cloud consolidates public and private clouds into performing specific roles within the same institution by enabling information and application sharing between both platforms. In this model, organizations can still experience the best of both private and public clouds which retain their individual properties. IT can use the former to secure sensitive information and draw resources from the latter for running data-dependent applications. Hence, companies can choose between the two clouds for varying workloads and use cases.

Another distinct characteristic of a hybrid cloud is that it allows users to customize a dedicated private cloud for meeting their business requirements. At the same time, the hybrid cloud facilitates public cloud usage in situations where workloads surpass the private cloud’s computational capacity. The hybrid cloud solution improves overall organizational speed and efficiency and ascertains maximum productivity at all times.

Further Thoughts on Cloud Computing Elements

Regardless of whether businesses choose public, private or hybrid cloud, viability is only achieved when service providers ensure reliability, scalability, provisioning, elasticity and billed usage. Clients should always retain the freedom to use a specific short-term or long-term cloud service and add extra resources from a self-service portal based entirely on need.

All three cloud computing elements offer every user a unique identity management system for accessing specialized applications, data and computing resources with time and location independence. This contributes to business continuity in organizations especially high-risk sectors like government, health care, research and military where delays are unacceptable and quality responsiveness must be maintained consistently.

Cloud Computing and Virtualization

Virtualization complements cloud computing by facilitating all three private, public and hybrid cloud solutions. Hence, using virtualization technology in cloud computing allows users to share both infrastructure and data stored in the cloud. Most importantly, IT can combine thin client endpoints with cloud computing to maximize performance in virtualized environments. The extraordinary functionalities and computational capacity of thin clients like ClearCube’s endpoints further leverage the data-intensive capabilities of cloud computing by optimizing performance in running complex applications. This facilitates even more scalable services through smart software tools and networking solutions.

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