Without you knowing it, everybody has been using the proverbial “cloud”. That instant message you just sent, the recently updated Facebook status and the latest holiday picture shared on Instagram do not disappear into the ether – they live in the cloud.
But for those that use it, many are yet to understand what cloud, let alone cloud computing, really is. The cloud is the most disruptive computing revolution of our time, fostering dramatic changes in the technology we live with every day and how we use technology to transform business practices. As a result, cloud computing has become the engine of adaptive evolution.
But what is cloud computing? Simply put, it’s a method of providing a set of shared computing resources that includes applications, computing, storage, networking, development, deployment platforms and business processes. It turns traditional siloed computing assets into shared pools of resources based on an underlying Internet foundation.
Two basic forms
It comes in two basic forms: public and private. Public cloud is an IT model where on-demand computing services and infrastructure are managed by a third-party provider and shared with multiple organisations using the public Internet. Public cloud makes computing resources available to anyone for purchase. Multiple users typically share the use of a public cloud. Web-based e-mail and free services like the ones Google provides are the most familiar examples of public clouds.
Private cloud, on the other hand, is a cloud computing environment dedicated to a single customer. It combines many of the benefits of cloud computing with the security and control of on-premises IT infrastructure.
Most organisations use a combination of private computing resources (data centres and private clouds) and public services as a hybrid environment. The way you construct your hybrid computing environment is determined by the complexity of the workloads (an independent service of collection of code that can be executed) and how you want to optimise the performance of those workloads to support your constituents.
Cloud computing can be divided into three categories:
SaaS (software as a service) is the cloud’s largest and most developed service that provides software or a set of applications available in the cloud. This enables users to forego the traditional route of downloading and then storing bulky software on their hard drives. Instead, they download it to the cloud, which is stored and accessed via the Internet, which helps preserve computer memory.
IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) provides the most basic, or raw, computing services, which means it requires a high level of IT expertise. This service provides a cloud server, or servers, and data storage space, for access to computing power but without the hassle of installation and maintenance.
PaaS (platform as a service) helps eliminate the need to oversee much underlying hardware and operating tasks associated with running your application, such as software maintenance, capacity planning, and procuring equipment and supplies by enabling businesses to outsource many tasks associated with running their application. This way, users are free to focus on just the deployment of their application.
The kind of cloud deployment you should consider depends on your individual performance, security requirements and specific business goals.
At Liquid Intelligent Technologies, we have seen that one of the main reasons for cloud service adoption by many organisations is the potential for cost savings. Cloud computing gives the freedom to use services as per the requirement and pay only for what you use. This technology has made it possible to run IT operations as an outsourced unit without investing extensively in an in-house resource.
Yet one of the biggest questions that we still get asked about is, how safe is the cloud and how well protected is my data? The answer is, cloud security provides protection similar to IT security systems. This includes the protection of sensitive information, data leakage and theft. However, because your information is stored online, there’s always the chance that it can be stolen, leaked, wiped or lost.
Up to you
Therefore, it is up to you as a user to control how your data is protected, which begins by selecting a quality cloud provider. At Liquid, we understand that security is a significant concern for customers utilising the cloud; therefore, we continuously improve our security offerings.
Aside from lower costs, fewer maintenance hassles, and quick and efficient management, cloud computing offers another significant advantage of mobility. Be it individual users or big companies, everyone using the cloud can access documents or mail that is not stored on one’s PC, as it is stored digitally. Location in such a situation ceases to matter and as long as one has Internet services.
This technology is certainly going to continue growing and developing in the coming years. It has moved beyond being an option and has transformed into a way of doing business. By revolutionising every aspect of business performance, the cloud has accelerated innovation at a remarkable rate. What we see is that it is not easy and affordable to use the tools to drive digitalisation. If you are looking for innovative ideas and ways to grow and achieve your business goals, then the cloud is worth venturing into for future planning and opportunities.
- Carlos Dos Santos is head of cloud and cybersecurity at Liquid Intelligent Technologies South Africa
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