Cloud computing is a general term for various hosted services delivered over the internet. It is the use of remote, rented servers to store and manage data, rather than the use of a local, privately maintained server.
Before cloud computing existed, websites had to be hosted on a local server, which site owners had to purchase and maintain on their own. To ensure the risk of downtime was minimal, site owners needed to buy enough server space to accommodate peak traffic volume. However, that meant a large amount of server space went unused for much of the time.
Cloud computing allows individuals and organizations to rent server space, reducing the need to invest in onsite servers and maintenance personnel. Today, users can host full applications and development environments in the cloud, in addition to websites.
What are the benefits of cloud computing?
Cloud computing has gained popularity at a rapid pace because it has a number of benefits. Cloud models are more cost-effective than on-site server installations and may even provide faster service than a traditional installation.
Cloud computing models are nearly infinitely scalable. The cloud extends alongside the organization's fluctuating needs, providing optimal resource availability at all times. The cloud is also very reliable, offering disaster recovery, data backups and business continuity. Businesses that use cloud solutions do not need to maintain complex hardware, nor do they need to build solutions from scratch. The cloud allows teams to get projects up and running as soon as they receive executive sign off.
How is cloud computing deployed?
There are three types of cloud deployment models: private, public and hybrid.
The private cloud deployment model most resembles the traditional, internal server model. In many cases, an organization maintains a private cloud on site and delivers services to internal users via the intranet. In other cases, the organization contracts with a third-party cloud vendor to host and maintain exclusive servers off site.
The advantages of private cloud, include customized architecture, advanced security protocols and the ability to extend computing resources in a virtualized environment as needed.
The public cloud deployment model allows for responsive scalability and managed growth. In this case, service providers make resources available to the public over the web. One of the primary advantages of public cloud is the ability to share resources at a scale that no individual organization could achieve alone.
Public cloud service providers offer robust security measures to protect user data from being accessed by other tenants. The ability to pay for resources as needed is a huge advantage over a local server.
As the name implies, the hybrid cloud deployment model is a combination of public and private cloud solutions. A hybrid cloud strategy extends a private cloud to a public cloud when the demand for resources increases.
To comply with privacy regulations, an organization could store sensitive user data in a private cloud and perform resource-intensive computation in the public cloud.
Types of cloud computing services
Cloud computing can take many forms, but the following three categories account for the majority of use cases.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Traditionally, software was installed directly on a user's device and it was the user's responsibility to maintain the installation. The software as a service computing model eliminates the need for individual installations by hosting the application on a cloud. SaaS reduces maintenance and service costs.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
The infrastructure as a service computing model moves an organization's entire data center to the cloud. A service provider maintains all storage servers and networking hardware, eliminating the need for a resource-intensive, on-site installation.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
The platform as a service computing model gives organizations the power to develop software without needing to maintain the underlying environment.
PaaS vendors optimize development environments for each tenant's unique needs. PaaS solutions often include supplemental features such as storage resources, compile services and version control.
Cloud service providers take security very seriously. Vendors have developed complex security protocols based on encryption, logical isolation and credential authentication. Cloud suppliers take steps to ensure that tenants cannot access their neighbor's data.
Organizations that must comply with privacy regulations may prefer a hybrid cloud solution because they can store and protect data in an exclusive, secure cloud.
Does geography matter?
Though one of the primary benefits of cloud computing is global accessibility, geography still plays a role in the effectiveness of an individual solution. If users try to access a cloud on the other side of the planet, they may experience much more latency than they would on a local connection. To ease this challenge, service providers have established servers in multiple regions across the globe.
In general, servers are regulated by the laws of the country they reside in. That means data stored on a European server will be regulated differently than a server in the U.S. Organizations that handle private user data need to be aware of all regulations that may apply to their cloud solutions.
To learn how Citrix can support your cloud computing needs, visit Citrix Workspace.