Cloud computing is not necessarily a new phenomenon. The phrase dates back to the 1990s, and concepts around mainframe sharing go back as far as the 1950s! However in the last two decades cloud computing has become more and more omnipresent, particularly for businesses, and it is increasingly a fundamental part of any company’s IT arsenal.
Almost everyone these days uses cloud computing in some form or other. But what actually IS cloud computing, and how does it work?
For organizations in Calgary, Edmonton and across Alberta looking to know more about how this technology actually works, and how it can affect their business, we’ve put together a short guide on the fundamentals of cloud computing, and how you can get the best out of it in your workplace.
What is cloud computing?
Although ‘the cloud’ in its broadest sense refers to the entire internet, cloud computing usually refers to services and infrastructure hosted and delivered over the internet. On-demand services, from storage and servers to applications and software, are delivered by third-party organizations, removing the need for physical mainframes.
Cloud computing takes advantage of technological innovations and huge investment in building and maintaining centralized infrastructure. Cloud computing allows individual organizations to take advantage of economies of scale, as the collective data centers have a far greater capacity than they could ever hope to achieve on their own.
Files, data and software are stored and hosted on remote servers, and accessed via the internet, removing the need for hardware or physical proximity.
Cloud computing services are generally offered on a subscription basis, with companies renting software, storage space and even full infrastructure from service providers. This allows companies to pay only for what they need, and scale up and down accordingly, and allows service providers to deliver the same service to multiple companies, benefiting from economies of scale.
What are the different types of cloud computing?
For enterprises and consumers, there are three main service models of cloud computing, and chances are you already use at least one of them at work or at home. The three main types of cloud computing services are Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
Software as a Service offers software, applications and services over the internet without the need for installations or updates. At the simplest level, if you use an email provider, you are using SaaS! However, SaaS can provide far more extensive and complex services, from word processing on Google Docs through to the full suite of remote collaboration on Microsoft 365.
Platform as a Service provides a curated set of services that are specifically designed to perform a function or service a business need. PaaS is most commonly used by developers, as it can provide a fully functional remote environment for building, testing, deploying, managing and updating new applications and software. Microsoft Azure and the Google App Engine are two great examples of PaaS.
Infrastructure as a Service is probably the most comprehensive element of cloud computing technology, and the one that can, or already has had the most impact on the modern workplace. IaaS provides users with the fundamental infrastructure to carry out all their IT needs – servers, data storage, telecommunications and hardware – all hosted remotely and delivered via the cloud. IaaS is essentially outsourcing your physical hardware, allowing access to large platforms and applications without the need of similarly large physical infrastructure. Amazon Web Services was one of the first examples of modern cloud computing when it launched in 2008, and remains a great example of IaaS.
How does cloud computing work?
Cloud service providers are responsible for managing and maintaining huge data centers that provide the storage capacity, processing power and security that enable them to deliver services to their clients. Data is shared over the internet, with users sharing information with the host, and accessing applications and software stored on the remote servers. Server virtualization allows service providers to get the most out of each individual server, essentially by ‘tricking’ their physical server into acting like multiple servers with independent operating systems, all serving individual clients.
Simply put, it involves sharing elements of access to huge data centers with vast capacities. Because all access is remote, cloud computing makes businesses and workforces far more flexible, as the data, information, software and platforms that they use on a day-to-day basis can be accessed from anywhere on any device with an internet connection.
What are the benefits of cloud computing?
Cloud computing has already changed the way individuals and organizations operate and engage with their IT systems, and it has a huge range of benefits for businesses in Edmonton, Calgary and across Alberta who have yet to adopt.
Productive allocation of resources
Cloud computing services reduce the need for in-house or on-site IT staff, particularly when it comes to basic admin and maintenance tasks. This means that your staff can be reallocated more efficiently, and can concentrate on more creative duties that are targeted towards growing the business rather than just keeping it ticking over.
Cloud computing services are fully scalable, meaning that businesses only pay for what they need. Subscription services mean that your software needs are covered only for the number of users that are actually using the services at any one time, and your data storage capacity can grow and shrink depending on business needs. It also cuts down on capital investment on hardware, and even on physical office space!
Cloud service providers are constantly innovating, looking for advances and new tech to make things run faster, smoother and cheaper. New services are always being offered, and by using cloud computing you are always going to have access to the latest and most advanced services.
Security and maintenance
Cloud computing service providers take on the responsibility of security for the services, apps and storage that you subscribe to, and are also responsible for constant maintenance, updates and patches. This takes a huge amount of work off your plate, and means that you will always benefit from the latest advances in cyber security.
Cloud computing allows your business to be more versatile and flexible, and improves productivity and collaboration. Removing the need for physical proximity to servers and hardware means your workforce can access everything they need from anywhere in the world, allowing your business to work harder and more effectively at all times.
To find out more about cloud computing and managed IT services, get in touch with the team at CompuVision – we’ll be delighted to share our expertise with you!