What is cloud computing?

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is the provision of computing services, storage, databases and a range of other IT resources across the internet. Organisations and individuals can use these services without needing to operate or maintain the physical hardware on site. Instead, the resources are hosted by third parties in their data centres, offering customers a more flexible, scalable and often more cost-efficient alternative to traditional IT infrastructure.

Basic concept of cloud computing

Cloud computing is based on the virtualisation of resources and providing these across the internet. The resources cover a spectrum of roles, from simple web apps to complex development environments. The principal advantages include:

  • Scalability: Capacity can be increased or decreased according to demand, making the solution extremely flexible.
  • Cost efficiency: Users typically only have to pay for the resources they actually use, which cuts operating costs.
  • Accessibility: Services are available at any location where there is an internet connection, fostering collaboration and facilitating remote access.
  • Maintenance: Cloud providers are responsible for maintaining and updating the IT infrastructure, which cuts the administrative work for the user.

Third parties’ service models

There are three core models that third parties can adopt for offering cloud computing services. These are:

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): The underlying IT infrastructure such as virtual machines, networks and storage are offered across the internet.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): This form of cloud computing adds development tools, database management and operating systems to the infrastructure offer, supporting application development and delivery.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS): SaaS models enable applications and databases to be used across the internet. Users do not have to worry about managing or maintaining the underlying infrastructure.

 Different models of implementation

Cloud computing is implemented according to different kinds of model when it comes to administration, scalability and security. Here is a brief list of the different cloud computing architectures:

  • Public cloud: This type of service is offered across the public internet and can be accessed by anyone.
  • Private cloud: This kind of cloud model is only available for the specific organisation and can be hosted internally or by a third-party provider.
  • Hybrid cloud: A combination of private and public cloud components can provider an optimum balance of control, flexibility and cost efficiency.

Security and data protection are essential elements of all cloud computing models. Providers use extensive security tools and policies to protect data and applications. These include compliance standards, access controls, encryption and security logs. In addition, users must adhere to best practices in data security and must be aware of the risks in using cloud infrastructure and cloud applications.