What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is the delivery of computer system resources, including applications, virtual machines, containers, data storage and processing power over the internet. Cloud computing services are offered and managed by cloud service providers. Cloud service providers (CSPs) own and maintain the IT infrastructure, including computer and networking hardware and software, needed to deliver on-demand computing resources to their customers.
The concept of a "hosted service" or "hosted application" is central to cloud computing. Hosted services are IT infrastructure components (servers and virtual machines), applications (software, middleware, O/S), or functions that an organization accesses via an external service provider. Hosted applications are deployed on the servers of a cloud service provider and accessed by customers through the internet.
Three Types of Cloud Computing Environments
The increased adoption of cloud computing in enterprise IT environments has led to the development of new cloud computing architectures. Each architecture represents a different method of deploying cloud services, and each one offers unique advantages and disadvantages. The three models in common use today are public cloud, private cloud and hybrid cloud.
Public clouds are owned and operated by a cloud service provider. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is an example of a cloud service provider that offers public cloud services. All of the IT infrastructure, including hardware and software needed to deliver these cloud computing services is owned by Amazon. Services like server access and data storage can be requested by customers and apportioned as needed.
Private clouds are owned and accessed exclusively by a single company. The infrastructure could have been built and implemented in-house or by a 3rd-party, but either way, the services and infrastructure are maintained on a private network that is not accessible to other parties. Private clouds can help large organizations centralize the management of IT infrastructure without giving up control of that infrastructure to a third-party cloud service provider.
Hybrid cloud systems are ideal for organizations that must host some applications and data in private cloud to maintain data security, but still wish to benefit from the cost reductions associated with public cloud deployment for less sensitive applications. Hybrid cloud environments include a mix of on-premise , private cloud and public cloud applications and services, with orchestration and communication between disparate platforms.
Cloud Computing vs On-Premise Delivery
On-premises computing means that no cloud services are in effect and the company or IT organization owns and maintains its entire technology stack. This includes functions such as:
- Operating Systems
Before cloud services were widely commercially available, on-premise hosting was the dominant method used by IT organizations to develop, deploy or access computerized services.
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Delivery Model
In the SaaS model, a company outsources management of the entire technology stack and simply accesses the application through the internet. SaaS software products are typically delivered by the software vendor rather than a third-party hosting service. The vendor makes the application available to the customer online and manages the entire technology stack to deliver the service.
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) Delivery Model
In the PaaS model, the customer manages the data and application while the service provider owns and maintains every other part of the technology stack. This set-up is ideal for code developer who wish to focus on application development while having a third-party service provider manage the back-end infrastructure.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) Delivery Model
In the IaaS model, a cloud service provider owns and manages the hardware infrastructure (networking, servers and storage), along with virtualization services. The customer maintains control of the rest of the stack, from the O/S down to the application level.
What Can Cloud Computing Do For Your Business?
Reduce Up-front IT Costs
The most important benefit of cloud computing for your business is likely to be the reduction in up-front IT infrastructure investment expenses. In the on-premise delivery model, IT organizations must purchase, configure and maintain IT infrastructure for servers, networking, and storage. The up-front cost associated with purchasing all of the hardware and software needed to develop and test an application can be prohibitive, but through cloud services, a company can obtain these computing resources in the quantities and amounts needed without the large up-front expense. Instead, cloud services are billed on a monthly, per-usage basis, making them more cost efficient for most organizations.
Speed and Flexibility of Deployment
For IT organizations that depend on on-premise infrastructure, capacity planning is a perpetual challenge. Organizations must ensure that their IT infrastructure is sufficiently robust to meet capacity demands at peak times, which often results in purchasing excess servers and other equipment that is rarely used. Cloud computing services are typically available on-demand, meaning that organizations can recruit more processing power, virtual machines or storage space at the touch of a button. This gives organizations the flexibility to scale capacity up or down as needed with minimal waste.
Reliability and Availability
Today's leading cloud service providers operate robust computing infrastructures with built-in redundancies that can guarantee nearly 100% up-time for your business applications. You can always build fail-safes and redundancies into your on-premise IT infrastructure, but whereas you might have a single back-up server available for your application, a CSP would have tens or potentially hundreds of servers available to take on the workload if one failed. Cloud service providers can also mirror your data at multiple sites on the network to provide elevated data security.
Reduced IT Labor
Beyond the initial cost of purchasing and installing an on-premise data center for your computer needs, there are additional costs associated with maintaining your IT infrastructure on an ongoing basis. You'll need to pay IT operators, analysts and other staff to perform software upgrades, discover and install patches, monitor performance, back up data and prevent outages. When you purchase cloud computing services, you're essentially outsourcing all of these time-consuming functions and leaving your IT department to focus on innovations that drive value to the business.
Is Cloud Computing a Security Risk?
As organizations deploy a greater number of applications into the cloud, it can be increasingly difficult to manage security and optimize application performance without a dedicated cloud management platform. Sumo Logic offers an integrated platform that enables IT organizations to track log data from all sources in a hybrid cloud environment, helping organizations reduce application downtime and leverage enhanced threat detection and incident response.