New to cloud computing? Simply put, cloud computing is the industry term for delivering hosted services over a network or the internet. It treats computing as a service rather than a product, enabling users to access and share a wide variety of applications, data, and resources through an interface such as their web browser. Cloud computing requires a paradigm shift in infrastructure management. Instead of local PCs running individual applications, cloud IT services tap a distributed network of computers that may reside in multiple locations yet appear as a single resource on the front end. In cloud infrastructure solutions, everything becomes a software service – applications, data, and storage – and APIs are the building blocks. Obviously, security on the cloud is critical for both businesses and users, and two of the Alliance’s Usage Models focus on this key concern.
Benefits of Cloud Computing
The goal of cloud computing is to provide easy, scalable access to computer resources and services. The potential benefits for enterprise adoption of cloud services are huge and include:
- Decreased infrastructure costs
- Reduced time to market
- Flexibility in infrastructure investments beyond today’s virtualization solutions
- Ability to rapidly adopt and apply game-changing technologies
- Enhanced partnering opportunities due to increased business interoperability
- Full compatibility with the trend away from PCs to portable and purpose-specific devices
Types of Cloud Services
Cloud IT services are usually divided into three categories:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). These cloud services offer configurable virtual servers and storage, and companies or individual users pay for the capacity they use, which can fluctuate as needed. Example: Amazon Web Services.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS). The capability provided to the consumer is to deploy onto the cloud infrastructure consumer-created or acquired applications created using programming languages, libraries, services, and tools supported by the provider. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure including network, servers, operating systems, or storage, but has control over the deployed applications and possibly configuration settings for the application-hosting environment.
- Software as a Service (SaaS). Here, the host provides everything – infrastructure, software, data storage, and the user interface. Because everything is in the cloud, users can access the services from anywhere. Examples: Web-based email services such as Hotmail, Windows Live Mail, and Gmail.
There are also different access models for clouds: Some are internal (private), some external (public), and some are a combination of both (community, hybrid).
- A private cloud is a proprietary network or data center that supplies hosted services to an organization over an intranet (behind a firewall). It may be hosted on-site or outsourced, and managed by the company’s IT team or a third party. Private clouds enable IT managers to install and maintain applications centrally rather than on each person’s PC.
- In a public cloud, the infrastructure and services are made available to the general public over the internet, usually by an organization selling cloud services. Public clouds generally have intuitive front ends so that anyone can use the services without needing technical skills.
- A community cloud is shared by several organizations with common concerns, such as mission objectives, security requirements, policy, and compliance considerations.
- A hybrid cloud is a composition of two or more clouds (private, public, or community) that remain distinct entities but are bound together by standardized or proprietary technology that enables data and application portability.