Cloud 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Cloud Computing Technology
Cloud computing has arrived, and everyone is interested in learning more. Your users and customers are used to their personal mobile applications, like Facebook and Google Docs, where they can interact and work anywhere, anytime. But there is much more behind cloud computing than just a modern web interface. Great response time, data storage, information access, reliability, and security are all vital to any business looking into a possible “move to the cloud.” More than likely your peers have told you of their success with cloud computing and how they have the most current technology, much more flexibility, or lower IT costs.
What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing delivers services such as data storage, security, networking, software applications, and business intelligence via the internet on a subscription basis.
As you explore the world of cloud computing, you will want to be familiar with some of the terminology and choices you have in cloud computing. Here you will find an assortment of pertinent information, including explanations of terms such as SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, and how they differ. The cloud does offer a lot of benefits and we will briefly review those first.
Benefits of cloud computing
- Reliable: Secure, safe, and available. Get 24/7 cloud system access from anywhere with excellent response time. Run on secure servers with a staff of full-time security experts. Know that your data is redundant and remotely backed up.
- Flexible: Get the computing power you need when you need it. Add or reduce servers, networking, or storage. Get new users on board instantly. Expand to new geographies. All done fast and easy.
- Financial: Only pay for what you need. No up-front financial expenses for hardware or facilities. Reduce IT staff time used to maintain and upgrade the systems. Instead, invest your funds and people in revenue-generating projects.
- Up to date: Always have the latest version of the platform, database, and software applications. Plus, take advantage of emerging technologies such as machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), etc. Always stay up to date on the latest innovations.
Types of cloud computing services
Cloud computing is divided into three main service categories: SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS. Some providers combine these services—and others offer them independent of each other.
What is SaaS?
With SaaS (software-as-a-service), software is hosted on a remote server and customers can access it anytime, anywhere, from a Web browser or a standard web integration. The SaaS provider takes care of backups, maintenance, and updates. SaaS solutions include enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), project management, and more.
What is PaaS?
Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) is a cloud-based, application development environment that provides developers with everything they need to build and deploy apps. With PaaS, developers can choose the features and cloud services they want on a subscription or pay-per-use basis.
What is IaaS?
Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) lets companies “rent” computing resources, such as servers, networks, storage, and operating systems, on a pay-per-use basis. The infrastructure scales—and customers don’t have to invest in the hardware.
IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS
Compare SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS and find out what you can expect from each “as-a-service” model. Most companies now use a mix of the three—and the lines between them can sometimes blur.
|Who uses it||Business users||Developers||System admins|
|What you get||Software applications||Development platform||Computing resources|
|Purpose||To complete business tasks||To build and deploy applications||To access storage, networking, servers, and other infrastructure online|
|Provider controls||Apps, data, runtime, middleware, O/S, virtualization, servers, storage, networking||Runtime, middleware, O/S, virtualization, servers, storage, networking||Virtualization, servers, storage, networking|
|Customer controls||N/A – everything is managed by the provider||Apps, data||Apps, data, runtime, middleware, O/S|
Types of cloud deployment
There are three different types of cloud deployment: public, private, and hybrid. Many companies choose more than one approach and set up a multi-cloud environment.
- Public cloud
With a public cloud, services are delivered to customers over a network that’s available for usage by the provider’s clients. Public clouds offer efficiency and affordability and are often multi-tenant—meaning the provider runs your service in a shared environment.
- Private cloud
With a private cloud, services are maintained on a private network protected by a firewall. You can build a private cloud within your own data center—or subscribe to one hosted by a vendor. Private clouds offer the most security and control.
- Hybrid cloud
A hybrid cloud is a combination of public cloud, private cloud, and on-premise infrastructure. Hybrid clouds let you keep sensitive information in a traditional data center or private cloud while taking advantage of public cloud resources.
Public vs. private vs. hybrid cloud
Compare the three different types of cloud deployments to find out which would work best for your company.
|Public cloud||Private cloud||Hybrid cloud|
|Environment||Publicly-shared computing resources||Private computing resources||Mix of public and private resources|
|Auto-scaling||High||Can be limited||High|
|Security||Good – but depends on security of the vendor||Most secure – all data stored in private data center||Very secure – sensitive data stored in private data center|
|Reliability||Medium – depends on Internet connectivity and service provider availability||High – all equipment on premise or hosted by dedicated private cloud provider||Medium to high – some dependency on service provider|
|Cost||Low – pay-for-what-you-need model and no need for on-premise storage and infrastructure||Moderate to high – can require on-premise resources such as a data center, electricity, and IT staff||Moderate – mix of pay-for-what-you-need model and on-premise resources|
|Who is it for?||Companies that want to take advantage of the latest SaaS apps and elastic IaaS while keeping costs low||Government agencies, healthcare providers, banks, and any business that handles a lot of sensitive data||Companies that want to keep critical apps and data private – and still use public cloud services|
Is the cloud actually secure? The degree of security in the cloud depends on how it was deployed and the cloud service provider’s capabilities. But it has been shown that in most cases, the cloud provides more security than on-premise installations. There are several reasons for this:
Location of data: An on-premise deployment will mean your data is in your facility. It is worth noting that the first step in someone stealing your data is knowing where it is located. The large cloud providers have many servers in various locations, so it is difficult for anyone to identify where data is located.
Security: With an on-premise solution, your staff maintains all security procedures and software updates. Just recently, a large, well-known insurance company had a security breach, and it was found that the IT department had not installed security updates for many months. With a reputable cloud provider, companies have full-time professional security experts to keep the data safe.
Backup: In a traditional legacy application implementation in your facility, you are responsible for backing up your valuable information on a regular basis. If your company does this, it is still necessary to have current copies stored off-site.
Delivering new technologies via the cloud
IT departments are under increasing pressure to transform from cost centers to value creators—and now must lead the charge when it comes to innovation. Cloud computing and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) can be a catalyst for CIOs who want to successfully maintain a bi-modal IT environment that encourages rapid innovation while securely supporting the stable, mission-critical core of the business.
Check out this white paper by SAP and Ovum Research to better understand the role of IT in the digital enterprise, linking IT activities not only with IT metrics, but with business metrics and outcomes. The paper examines the IT journey and outlines the steps to IT-led digital transformation.
Continue building your cloud expertise
Are you looking to transform to a hybrid cloud landscape? In this free online course from openSAP, you’ll learn all about hybrid cloud landscapes, including best practices for integration, security, and operations. Plus, explore next steps and strategies for starting your own hybrid cloud transformation journey.