Understanding the Basics of Cloud Computing

Types, Strategies, Benefits & Pizza

By Eugenia Wodopian

Being the foundation of most businesses today it is impossible to imagine the corporate world without the cloud. It certainly has become the new norm and a step towards the expected advancement of Artificial Intelligence. However, many corporations still struggle to efficiently implement the tool mainly due to misunderstanding or underutilizing. Having a cloud strategy is the keyword here. To start from the beginning: What is the cloud? Cloud services include all computing services that are delivered to the user over the internet - the cloud. It is a huge ecosystem of tech, products and services which is currently dominating the IT landscape.

Types of Clouds

How does it all work? There are different types of cloud services covering different solutions and needs. You will decide on the type of cloud deployment / architecture suiting your business best. There are three ways to deploy cloud services: on a public, private or hybrid cloud. Public clouds - are owned and run by third-party cloud service providers which deliver computing resources. Users can access these services in the browser. Private cloud - is used by one company only. The services and infrastructure are provided on a private network. A private cloud can be physically placed on-site or hosted by a third-party. Hybrid cloud - is a technology that combines services and data from a variety of cloud models to facilitate a combined, automated, well-maintained computing environment. It provides more deployment options, optimised the current infrastructure, security and compliance.

Service Models

The cloud computing stack has four main service models. Each model has its own benefits serving the needs of various businesses.

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
provides storage, servers, networking and visualisation to businesses on a pay-as-you-go basis. The user rents the IT infrastructure thus avoiding expensive on-site resources. Examples: AWS EC2, Rackspace, Google Compute Engine (GCE), Digital Ocean.
Platform as a service (PaaS)
provides on-demand hardware and software tools over the internet for developing applications and is usually used by developers. Examples: Heroku, Windows Azure, Apache Stratos, AWS Elastic Beanstalk.
Serverless computing
code execution is managed by the cloud provider. Developers don’t have to manage and maintain the servers and infrastructure. Backend services are provided on an as-used basis. Examples: AWS Lambda, Google Cloud Functions, Azure Functions, IBM OpenWhisk.
Software as a service (SaaS)
a third-party provider hosts the applications and delivers them over the internet on-demand. The cloud provider hosts, manages and handles the software application, the infrastructure and maintenance. The user connect over the internet in the web browser. Examples: Salesforce, HarmonyCB, Dropbox, MailChimp, Slack, Hubspot.

Pizza as a Service for visualization 🍕

Let’s take a look at the Pizza model below, introduced by Albert Barron in 2014. The blue area describes tasks that you manage, the green one describe the responsibilities of the vendor. Its stack goes from “made at home” to “dining out”. The amount of your responsibilities decreases with every model. In each case you will have pizza. Meanwhile additions and a few completions have been made to the model, for example the "Pizza as a Service 2.0".

Pizza as a Service

The benefits of moving to Cloud

Cloud services provide many benefits to business, for example:

  • Reduced costs trough elimination of on-site data centers, servers, cooling, electricity, hardware and software.
  • Fast and on-demand availability.
  • By paying only for what you need and use, the operational costs stay low, ensuring cost-effectiveness, scalability, innovation and efficiency.
  • Productivity remains high, as there is no need to set up hardware, patching software etc. IT experts in the company can concentrate on other tasks.
  • Backups, disaster recovery and business continuity are easier making cloud computing reliable. Cloud Services come with strong policies in order to ensure security.
  • A secure global network of data center contributes to a high performance with a lower network latency and greater economies of scale.

CIOs should familiarize themselves with the benefits of cloud computing, learn about cloud security and understand what type of talent is necessary for successful cloud implementation. Gartner

Cloud computing is here to stay

According to an estimation by Gartner the cloud services industry will grow exponentially throughout 2022. The worldwide public cloud services market is expected to climb to $249.8 billion in 2020 from just $182.4 billion in 2018. IaaS is expected to be the fastest growing segment and PaaS the second fastest. However, it is only the beginning. Through 2022, the analysis further project the market size of the cloud services industry at around three times the growth of overall IT services. A few Cloud Computing trends you should keep an eye on in 2020 are serverless computing, quantum computing, digital natives in the workforce, edge computing and containerization.