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If you went back to the 1960s and told J.C.R Licklider, an American psychologist, computer scientist and the inventor of cloud computing, that his creation would be used in almost every sphere of life in the 21st century, he would never believe you. It wouldn’t come as a surprise to you, either, as in those days hardly anyone had a computer at home, there was no internet, and people were sending letters, not emails. Today, however, it is all about the digital and so “clouds”, as we most often call them, are everywhere.
Clouds help us safely store our data and they provide us with access to various services and platforms to make our lives easier and improve our performance — both on a personal and professional level. The notion that clouds are all around us can be confirmed by the fact that some experts say that the term itself will soon end up in the buzzword graveyard. Why? Because it does not make sense to call something “cloud-based” when everything is in the cloud — and that’s cloud computing trends tell us.
But we’re not there just yet, which means there are still people who don’t exactly know what cloud computing is, how it works, and why it is becoming more and more popular. If you’re one of them, we’ve got you covered. Keep on reading to learn the ins and outs of cloud computing.
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Cloud Computing Overview
First and foremost — what does cloud computing technology mean? Generally speaking, the term refers to providing hosted services over the Internet. A hosted service can be a database, system, application, analytics tool, or any other software-defined solution that can be plugged into the web and operated without installing any additional hardware.
In other words, when somebody says they use “the cloud”, it means that they use remote servers to store, access and manage their data or applications (or both), instead of using local hard drives or on-site data centers. The data and applications are hosted in data centers located in different geographic regions across the globe and are accessible over the Internet using various protocols and interfaces.
What all of this means is that data and applications that are stored in the cloud can be accessed from virtually any place in the world, provided that you are connected to the Internet. So, you can forget about having to transport or sit close to any physical hardware. You don’t need USB drives or discs either.
Therefore, the cloud is very much “plug-and-play”. You simply connect to it over the Internet and viola — here it is. So, how does this work, exactly?
How Does Cloud Computing Work?
The company that is the provider of the cloud is responsible for maintaining large data centers with enough storage capacity, computing power, and security features to handle all the systems, applications, and data of its end-users.
From a technical point of view, you could say that cloud computing can be divided into two main components: front-end and back-end.
The front-end allows users to access data and applications stored within the cloud via an Internet browser or dedicated software. Meanwhile, the back-end consists of databases, servers, and computers that help keep all data and applications secure within the cloud’s virtual space — which is also why it is sometimes called “the backbone of the cloud”.
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A central server is responsible for managing communications between the front-end and back-end. To do so, the server uses both software and middleware.
Virtualization and automation also play crucial roles in cloud computing.
Virtualization facilitates the easy abstraction and provisioning of services and systems into logical entities that users can request and use. Meanwhile, automation empowers users to provision resources, connect services and deploy workloads with minimal intervention from the cloud provider’s IT department.
Benefits of Cloud Computing
First of all, by using the cloud, you eliminate the risk of losing your data in case something happens to the hardware on which you keep your files. You could say that storing your data and applications in the cloud is actually like making them part of the Internet itself, without them being available to the public. The point is that the cloud should be like a digital safe or enclosed cyberspace that only you and those you trust can access.
This brings us to benefit number two — enhanced security. Cloud service providers typically implement robust cloud security standards and protocols — from encryption and firewalls to multi-factor authentication – to protect their users’ data and applications. Not only does this provide users with greater peace of mind, but it also reduces the risk of data breaches, cyber-attacks and other security threats.
Benefit number three is flexibility. As we already mentioned, cloud users can access their data and applications from anywhere, as long as they have an internet connection. But there’s more. Cloud computing allows you to easily scale your resources and storage capacity up or down as needed, without having to invest in costly hardware or infrastructure.
We don’t need to tell you that this can also lead to significant cost savings — which is benefit number four. Rather than purchasing and maintaining your own hardware and infrastructure, you can use the cloud and pay only for the resources you need and use.
Last but not least, there is also the benefit of greater accessibility which we have partly covered in the “Overview” section. As already said, cloud users can access their data and applications from anywhere, as long as they have an Internet connection. This means that they can work remotely and collaborate with others in real-time, without being confined to a physical office or location. As you can imagine, this can result in higher levels of productivity.
Considering all the benefits discussed above, it comes as no surprise that the cloud is such a popular choice for data storage and management.
However, you should know that running and managing a cloud can still be a challenge. After all, it’s software — things may go out of sync, you may lose access to some of the files, your cloud application may suddenly not work with your other internal systems – there are many elements that may require the IT department’s assistance. Fortunately, there is also an alternative – cloud computing consulting services.
That’s right — you can leave your cloud environment in the hands of external IT professionals and have them prepare it so that you can reap all the benefits. If you don’t want to get involved in any planning or technical activities then, as Mandalorians would say, this is the way.
Cloud Computing Service Types
There are three main types of cloud computing services: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
IaaS provides users with access to virtualized computing resources (such as servers and storage) over the Internet. This allows them to avoid the need to purchase and maintain physical hardware, and instead use resources on an as-needed basisz
PaaS is about giving users a platform where they can develop, run and manage their own applications without the need for infrastructure management. This way, they can focus more on the development of their applications, as they don’t have to worry about any underlying infrastructure concerns.
SaaS, meanwhile, gives users access to pre-built software applications that are hosted and maintained by a third-party provider. This means that users don’t need to install, update and maintain software on their own systems, as all of this is done by the provider.
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Uses of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing has a wide range of uses and applications, including:
- Data storage and backup: The cloud gives you the ability to store and backup data remotely, greatly reducing the risk of data loss due to hardware failure.
- Disaster recovery: The cloud enables you to quickly recover data and applications in the event of a disaster.
- Big data analytics: Not only can some of today’s clouds be used to store and process large volumes of data, but they can also provide you with the computing power required to process and thoroughly analyze all that information.
- Application hosting & development: The cloud provides a scalable and flexible environment where you can host and develop your applications
- Testing: Cloud computing can be used to create various testing environments where developers can check if their applications and software work as expected – even when circumstances are out of the ordinary.
- Collaboration and remote work: Thanks to tools such as cloud-based file sharing and video conferencing, users can collaborate more efficiently and effectively when not present in the same room.
If you want to learn how cloud computing platforms can enhance your products and services, don’t hesitate to contact us using this form. Our team of cloud experts is here to provide solutions that can help.
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About the authorSoftware Mind
Software Mind provides companies with autonomous development teams who manage software life cycles from ideation to release and beyond. For over 20 years we’ve been enriching organizations with the talent they need to boost scalability, drive dynamic growth and bring disruptive ideas to life. Our top-notch engineering teams combine ownership with leading technologies, including cloud, AI, data science and embedded software to accelerate digital transformations and boost software delivery. A culture that embraces openness, craves more and acts with respect enables our bold and passionate people to create evolutive solutions that support scale-ups, unicorns and enterprise-level companies around the world.