As more fibre cables are laid around the world and more investments are made into satellite internet delivery methods, the number of users connected to the internet has increased exponentially over the last decade. In 1995 fewer than 1% of the world’s population had access to the internet, now roughly 40% of the population is connected. As access to the internet has become more far-reaching and the number of businesses who are reliant on internet-based services has soared, the need for cloud solutions has skyrocketed.
What is Cloud Computing?
Prior to the emergence of the cloud computing industry in 2006, the use of powerful servers was restricted to larger businesses. As machine hardware improved, server rooms, which housed multiple computers and servers, became more commonplace in smaller businesses that required them to provide more data-intensive services. For the remainder of the early 2000’s, however, the average person had no access to such powerful computing services – data was stored locally (on the machine it was created on) and services were provided offline (through installed software and not the internet).
The true value of cloud computing was established around 2010 when the largest tech industry giants like Amazon, Microsoft and Google invested in growing large server farms. These server farms and data centres occupy thousands of square kilometres all over the world and are, collectively, the building blocks for the cloud. Consisting of endless rows of computers, storage drives and routers, these server farms have revolutionised how IT services are provided.
Nowadays most businesses rely on some form of cloud computing provided by these tech giants; whether that may be storing files on the internet, streaming video content or simply sending emails. Companies that own servers and rent out access to their infrastructure (allowing clients to use their cloud storage and services) are known as Cloud Solutions Providers (CSPs).
In this post we hope to help you to understand
The differnt forms of cloud computing
How cloud computing originated
The benefits of cloud computing
The benefits of managed cloud services
What is a Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP)?
CSPs provide IT services over the internet that fall into three categories
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). CSPs may provide wireless access to their raw infrastructure; this can include (super)computers, servers and networks. This service is aimed at larger businesses who have a team of IT professionals who know how to manage and run this infrastructure. Companies like Netflix, LinkedIn and Facebook all make use of Amazon’s EC2 IaaS platform to deliver their services.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS). For businesses with less experience of managing the back-end of complex applications, PaaS can be used to provide a layer of middleware on top of the cloud infrastructure. Middleware, consisting of tools like database management systems, analytics software or operating systems, can be used to more easily control the cloud services. PaaS platforms like Microsoft Azure are often used in application development and deployment.
- Software as a Service. This is the cloud solution that most people are familiar with – it provides access to some form of software through the internet. Internet software like Google applications (Docs, Sheets, Slides) can be used by individual users whereas software like Microsoft Office 365 can be purchased for use by an entire organisation.
Why do we need Cloud Computing?
The internet is the most powerful tool used to connect people around the world and the number of individuals and organisations which are moving to the cloud is accelerating. As the number of possibilities available on the cloud increases, more businesses are realising and reaping the unique benefits presented to them on the cloud; they have flexible access to more storage, more computing power and are able to reach more clients worldwide. Similarly, individuals can access more services through the cloud at a cost lower than ever. These cloud computing services, like artificial intelligence and machine learning, provide a new world of opportunities to users who are unable to purchase the computing resources required for those tasks themselves.
Benefits of Cloud Computing
1. Reduced costs. Cloud computing is guaranteed to reduce the costs for anyone who makes use of it. The large organisations which own the infrastructure that supports the cloud benefit from economies of scale as larger data centres can support more clients and can operate more efficiently (the costs involved in running a data centre are more justified by larger centres than smaller ones). Other organisations don’t have to pay full price to own their own servers and data centres – they simply have to pay for what service they use. The same applies to individual users – the costs involved in using cloud services is far lower than buying the hardware upfront.
2. Diverse service options. As cloud computing is a cheap means of accessing hardware-intensive services, everyone can make use of the cutting-edge technologies available. This allows for rapid business innovation, growth, experimentation and diversification. Using the cloud, new products can be released to the world within mere seconds, rather than physical disc deployments
3. Increased flexibility. Investing in powerful computing hardware can seem unjust when it is not used consistently at its full potential. With cloud computing, users only ever pay the amount that corresponds to their usage. This, of course, can fluctuate regularly; during peak business times, more services can be provisioned and paid for and when less is needed, the user will never pay for what they aren’t using.
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