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What is Cloud Computing

What is Cloud Computing? 

Cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of computing services, like storage, software, analytics, and databases over the Internet to offer flexible resources and economies of scale. It is a paradigm shift from the traditional way businesses think about computing and IT resources.  

Instead of owning computing infrastructure or datacenters, organizations can rent access to cloud solutions and pay for only the solutions they use. Thus, organizations can avoid heavy upfront investments and the complexity of maintaining the IT infrastructure. Cloud computing service providers can benefit by delivering their IT services to multiple tenants over the Internet. 

Prominent public cloud service providers include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Microsoft Azure. 

Types of Cloud Computing Environments

Public cloud: The third-party cloud service providers own the public cloud and the supporting infrastructure like hardware and software. They deliver computing resources to organizations on the basis of a subscription fee. Users can get access to these services and manage their profiles using web browsers. This cloud deployment model is completely virtualized, which allows users to share resources while maintaining the security and privacy of each user’s data. 

Private cloud: In this internal or corporate cloud environment, computing services are offered via a private network and used exclusively by a single customer or business organization. Companies can maintain their private cloud on their on-premise datacenters or subscribe to third-party service providers to host their private cloud. Private cloud not only offers several benefits of cloud computing, like flexibility and scalability but also enhances security and resource optimization of on-premise infrastructure. 

Hybrid cloud: It is a combination of both public and private cloud, or like an on-premise data center and a public cloud, where data and applications can be shared securely between them. Most organizations do not depend entirely on the public cloud. A hybrid cloud environment offers greater flexibility, and more deployment options, and helps in maintaining the privacy and regulatory compliance. 

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Difference between Multi-cloud and Hybrid Cloud

Both hybrid and multi-cloud environments refer to cloud deployments with more than one cloud. The difference lies in the cloud infrastructure they incorporate. 

While a multicloud environment is an integration of different clouds of the same nature, for instance, a combination of various public clouds (e.g. Amazon Web Services and Azure), hybrid cloud environments blend two or more varying types of clouds, like a combination of public and private cloud. 

In a multi-cloud architecture, the solutions are offered by multiple third-party service providers. Hence, it operates in silos, whereas, in a hybrid cloud environment, the processes and data tend to interconnect. Multi-cloud deployment depends on third-party cloud utilization and cost control, while in a hybrid cloud environment, the native cloud utilization and cost control are emphasized.  

Types of Cloud Services

Software as a Service (SaaS): It is a software licensing and delivery model where the cloud service providers host software applications, and infrastructure, and manage software upgrades and patching. Users can connect to the software applications over the Internet on a pay-as-you-go basis, using their devices like laptops and phones. The service provider ensures the security and availability of the applications and data privacy and manages the hardware and software with suitable service agreements. 

Platform as a Service (PaaS): This cloud computing service works as an on-demand development and deployment environment for developing, managing, and testing mobile and web applications. PaaS helps developers quickly create applications without the added tension of setting up infrastructure, servers, storage, and databases and managing software licenses, which are crucial for app development. PaaS comprises the primary cloud features, like scalability, availability, and multi-tenant capability, and it allows developers to spend much lesser time on coding.  

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): This cloud computing service, which was first introduced by Oracle in 2012, offers on-demand storage and networking resources in all types of cloud environments, public, private and hybrid clouds. IaaS replaces the complexity of managing physical servers and datacenter infrastructure and thus helps users to save expenses on hardware and on-premise datacenters. A cloud service provider manages the infrastructure and enables the users to purchase and configure their own software and operating systems. 

SaaS v/s On-premise 

The major difference between on-premise and SaaS is that SaaS solutions are hosted by third-party cloud service providers, whereas the on-premise solutions are hosted and managed in-house i.e. by business organizations. 

When comparing these two solutions, you need to consider several factors: 

  • Cost: The pricing model of SaaS is flexible and the budget invested in upgrades is lower than on-premise solutions. SaaS also reduces the cost related to internal resources. The entry cost of single-tenant and multi-tenant SaaS solutions is lower than on-premise solutions, whose entry and operations costs are relatively higher. 
  • Scalability: SaaS solutions are highly scalable and flexible, and can be tailored as per business needs. On-premise solutions require long-term planning to scale and they are not as efficient as SaaS solutions as IT teams have to focus on continuous software upgrades from time to time. SaaS upgrades are much easier, and they require lesser intervention from the internal IT staff. 
  • Maintenance: For application support and maintenance, the SaaS solutions require no extra effort, as the cloud service providers take care of these concerns, and they are responsible for the availability, security, and performance. Businesses that use SaaS solutions have to trust the vendors when it comes to the security of their critical corporate data. On the other hand, on-premise solutions are owned, managed, and maintained by the organization itself, and it holds the sole responsibility for ensuring data security. 
  • Implementation: Implementing a single tenancy is expensive and not sustainable in the long run.  Implementing multi-tenant SaaS solutions is lesser time-consuming than the on-premise solutions. Users need to subscribe to the solutions provided by the cloud service providers and get started with their accounts. But, for on-premise solutions, human resources and monetary investments are needed, and the software and hardware upgrades are performed by the IT teams of the organization. 
  • Security and compliance: High-end SaaS providers, like Google and Microsoft, offer top-notch security and regulatory compliance, and organizations who subscribe to these SaaS solutions need not worry. The service providers offer baseline validation and enforce compliance. In the case of on-premise solutions, the security risks are higher and the internal IT teams are responsible for meeting the standards required for compliance. 

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