What is Cloud Computing? An Introduction

The internet is synonymous with the cloud. At the consumer level, it usually refers to photo, video or document storage -- like iCloud, OneDrive or Dropbox -- that can be accessed from anywhere. But cloud computing refers to anything that involves delivering services over the internet, as opposed to hardware or software installations on individual devices.

It all divides into three cloud services: platform as a service (PaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and software as a service (SaaS).

Types of cloud services

PaaS is a model in which a third-party provider hosts app development platforms and tools on its own infrastructure, available to customers over the internet. PaaS models are used for general software development.

IaaS providers host servers, storage and other virtualized resources on the internet. IaaS offers a variety of storage and memory options for any workload needs.

And, most commonly encountered at the consumer level, SaaS is software distribution from a third-party provider, making applications available over the internet. These applications include Microsoft 365 for productivity and email or Salesforce and NetSuite for enterprise use.

A cloud can be a public cloud, selling services to anyone on the internet, or a private cloud, supplying services to select individuals. Popular offerings include Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud and Google Cloud Platform.

In the end, all cloud services share the same goal: to provide easy, scalable access to resources and services. Specific benefits include the following:

  • Self-service provisioning.
  • Elasticity.
  • Pay per use.
  • Workload resilience.
  • Migration flexibility.
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