Cloud computing has gained significant popularity in recent years due to its self-service capabilities, flexibility, affordability, scalability, and its pay-as-you-go service model. You may have also heard cloud computing referred to as cloud, cloud hosting, cloud server hosting, etc. These terms have gotten around a lot and most don’t even know exactly what it means. So what is cloud computing?

Cloud computing is different from traditional hosting alternatives that use a single dedicated server, as cloud computing uses virtualization technology to pool or share resources from an underlying network of physical servers. In other words, a group of physical servers acts as one large server to provide you with the resources you need on demand. Cloud computing offers shared computing resources, data, or software over the Internet; which is the most common way to access the cloud. However, dedicated networks and intranets are also used. The resources provided by the cloud include: networks, servers, storage, platforms, applications and other services. And these resources are shared between people and organizations, and accessed by applications or users.

The top five characteristics of cloud computing

In cloud computing, there are five fundamental characteristics that differentiate it from traditional hosting alternatives, including fast elasticity, broad network access, on-demand self-service, resource pooling, and metered service.

· On demand self service

With cloud computing’s on-demand self-service, you can access email, applications, network, or server services without human interaction. Just set up an account with the seller, create billing and security credentials, and select the cloud computing resources you’ll need. Generally, this is all done using an easy-to-use and easy-to-use web-based self-service portal.

· Wide network access

Cloud computing services are available over a network, either through a dedicated network, the Internet, or an Intranet. Anyone can access these services, anywhere and anytime on any device or workstation, with the proper credentials, of course.

· Pooling resources

Cloud computing provides multiple clients with the same physical resources, however, with a separate environment for each client. And the resources of these physical servers can be pooled from multiple servers, in multiple data centers, in multiple locations. And if a server on your network goes offline, your virtual server will pool the resources of another server on your physical network. Even if an entire data center on your network is down, your resources are pooled from multiple data centers in multiple locations. This structure reduces the risk in case of failure.

· Fast elasticity

Perhaps one of the essential benefits of cloud computing is the flexibility it provides to users, as cloud resources can be provisioned quickly and elastically to rapidly scale and expand to meet demand. In other words, you get the resources you need when you need them.

· Measured service

Cloud computing leverages metering capabilities to measure your resource usage, allowing you to pay only for what you are using. In other words, just like a utility bill, you will only be charged for what you use, no more, no less.

Top 3 Models of Cloud Computing Services

In cloud computing, there are three main service models. They are Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

· Software as a service (SaaS) it is the most widely used cloud computing service model. SaaS enables developers and organizations to use specific business applications developed by third parties. In a SaaS model, the provider hosts both the application and the data, and the end user is free to use the services from anywhere. SaaS is not your average local software, as it is implemented on a network, usually the web, accessible through the browser or the program interface. The services can be anything from email to inventory control to database processing. Some examples include:, Zoho, and Netsuite. The service level coverage provided includes: application uptime and performance.

· Platform as a service (PaaS) is a type of cloud computing that provides users with software development tools that are hosted on the infrastructure of a cloud provider. In a PaaS environment, developers can take advantage of the resources of a cloud provider to create and host applications on their platforms over the Internet. The biggest benefit derived from PaaS is that users can run existing applications or develop new ones without worrying about maintenance of server hardware, operating systems, load balancing, or compute capacity. In other words, you can offload the responsibility for ownership, management, and software and hardware for operating systems to your service provider. The types of services provided can be anything from RunTime scenario, cloud storage, integration, etc. Some examples of PaaS are Google App Engine, Windows Azure, and The service level coverage provided includes: environment availability, environment performance, and no application coverage.

· Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is a form of cloud computing that provides users with networks, storage, virtualized servers, and systems software that provide all the functionality of a complete data center. In other words, you can use computers that your service provider owns, manages, and operates. Resources must span servers, storage, vendor-managed networks, and virtualization layers so that your network architect can run your applications and data. In the meantime, you will have control over the operating systems and applications deployed. Types of services provided: cloud storage and virtual server. Some examples: Amazon Web Services, RackSpace Cloud, and Go Grid. The service level coverage provided includes: virtual server availability, provisioning time, and no platform or application coverage.

The top three cloud solutions

There are many types of cloud strategies to employ. There are three main types of cloud solutions, including: public, private, and hybrid cloud solutions.

· Public cloud

When people think of the term cloud, most of the time they are referring to the public cloud. A public cloud solution is shared by thousands of customers around the world and is available to anyone on the Internet. This is the easiest and most profitable cloud strategy to employ. However, because you share the cloud with the public, you do not want to keep confidential information here.

· Private cloud

When your organization has sensitive data, privacy fears are a major problem. This is where a private cloud will be used. A private cloud is a proprietary network or data center that provides hosted services to a single customer. In a private cloud configuration, you must lease or supply the hardware to be used. Not to mention, you can manage some or all of your IT resources internally or managed externally. For companies in highly regulated industries where security is paramount, a private cloud solution is the only alternative. The benefits of a private cloud solution include: absence of network bandwidth restrictions, security vulnerabilities, and legal concerns that using a public cloud could encompass. It can also have improved security, accountability, and resilience than a public cloud because its use can be contained and managed. Some downsides are that it requires a large capital investment, time to market can average 6-36 months to establish, and the learning curve is excellent.

· Hybrid cloud

A hybrid cloud is a combination of a public and a private cloud and is considered the best of both worlds. A hybrid cloud solution allows you to keep all your data safe in a private cloud environment, while gaining high usability from web-based and mobile access to corporate applications. In most cases, a hybrid cloud solution that combines the benefits of public and private clouds works quite well for most companies. Some of the benefits of a hybrid cloud solution include: no vendor lock-in, minimizes the risk of data loss and / or downtime, saves the added cost of purchasing dedicated server hardware, and you get fairly reliable connectivity, even on case of interruptions. A big downside is that a hybrid cloud solution is very expensive.

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