types of cloud computing

Types of Cloud Computing

by Mike Sweetman
02 May 2019

Lately, we’ve all been exposed to the cloud and the many services that can be rendered through it. It almost feels as if we’ve had it available for most of our lives, but the truth of the matter is that cloud is just coming of age. Since the early 2000s, the term Cloud Computing has been evolving into the familiar concept we know today. Nevertheless, we are still seeing and tapping into its potential and just how far we can go with it.

While the term was brought to life in the early 2000s, the actual concept of delivering computing services dates back to the 1960s, where companies would allow organizations to rent mainframe time rather than actually purchasing the mainframe.

The explosive popularity of Cloud Computing stems from application service providers who truly rode the wave of delivering Software as a Service (SaaS) and the existence of cloud computing providers with robust portfolios such as Amazon Web Services.

In this article, we explore the concept of Cloud Computing, the different types of Cloud Computing solutions available, and cloud computing models.  To begin assessing this subject, we will start with asking what is cloud computing exactly? Let’s get started!

What is Cloud Computing?

As mentioned previously, before jumping into the different types and models embedded in Cloud Computing, let’s start with putting our first foot forward and defining what is Cloud Computing?

Cloud Computing, or simply the “cloud” as many refer to it, refers to the delivery of on-demand cloud computing services which can include servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, intelligence, and more, over the Internet. Over the years and throughout its evolution, Cloud Computing has become the preferred method to deliver enterprise applications for companies to extend their technology infrastructure and drive towards innovative solutions.

According to Technopedia, the definition of Cloud Computing is “the use of various services, such as software development platforms, servers, storage, and software, over the Internet, often referred to as the cloud.”

Typically, Cloud Computing is set up on a pay-for-use basis where companies have the opportunity to scale up or down quickly to meet emerging demands, to only pay for what they absolutely need instead of purchasing an entire suite of services that may not be wholly used, and to access self-service tools for numerous IT resources where they require support.

With this in mind, there are three key Cloud Computing traits that are common for all cloud computing vendors:

  • The vendor completely manages and owns the back-end aspect of the application, particularly the hardware equipment.
  • The client only pays for the services they use.
  • It is easy to scale, up or down.

The idea behind cloud computing is that the location of the service, along with details such as the physical location of the hardware or the operating system that runs the service, is nearly irrelevant to the end user. Cloud Computing is the solution for companies to leverage computing infrastructure or data centers by renting access to it, instead of actually owning it themselves and avoid the upfront investment and complexity of having to own and manage their own IT infrastructure.

Cloud Computing covers numerous options from basic storage, networking, and processing power. In essence, it pretty much covers any service that doesn’t require users to physically access the computer hardware and that can be delivered via the cloud.

Next, we are going to review the most popular types of Cloud Computing available and what each of them bring to the table.

Popular types of Cloud Computing

With Cloud Computing taking over, it is only natural that there are different offerings in the types of services they cover and render. In this section, we are going to talk about the most popular types of Cloud Computing available to see how they compare and what unique characteristics each of them offer.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is one of the most popular types of Cloud Computing available and provides instant computing infrastructure resources that are provisioned and managed over the Internet. IaaS is the most basic category of Cloud Computing where companies rent IT infrastructures such as servers, virtual machines, storage, networks, operating systems, and more, from a cloud provider on a pay-as-you-go basis. IaaS scales up and down based on demand and offers each resource as a separate service component.

Some of the advantages of IaaS include:

  • Reduces expenses and ongoing costs: IaaS eliminates the upfront investment of managing an onsite infrastructure, which is ideal for startup businesses.
  • Swift innovation: With IaaS providers, infrastructure is ready to be used within minutes or hours, making it quick and easy for clients to launch new products or initiatives.
  • Focused business: Since IaaS eliminates the complexity of owning and managing infrastructure, clients have the opportunity to focus on core business activities.
  • Responsiveness: IaaS scales up and down quickly to accommodate high or low demand. This enables companies to respond quickly to shifting market conditions and to save money by decreasing resources if activity levels drop.
  • Improved security: Providers usually have robust and comprehensive security standards for applications and data.

Platform as a Service aka PaaS

Platform as a Service or PaaS is a more advanced type of cloud computing that is similar to IaaS. With PaaS, companies rent access to infrastructure but also to a computing platform and solution stack as a service. PaaS is an on-demand environment for development, testing, delivering, and managing software applications to quickly create web or mobile apps without worrying about the underlying infrastructure of servers, storage, network and databases needed for development.

Typically, the PaaS cloud service provider develops the toolkit and standards for development and channels for distribution. This computing platform usually includes an operating system, programming language execution environment, databases, and a web server. Thus, application developers can focus on developing the software solution rather than managing the cost and complexity of hardware and software layers. Some of the most popular PaaS providers include Microsoft Azure, Oracle Cloud PLatform, and the Google App Engine.

PaaS is a complete development and deployment environment in the cloud where application developers can create anything from simple cloud-based apps to complex enterprise applications. As previously mentioned, instead of indulging in an IaaS vs PaaS mindset, we should think about how similar PaaS is to IaaS. The main differences are that PaaS offers the necessary middleware, tools, Business Intelligence services, and other resources to support the complete web application lifecycle.

Some of the advantages of PaaS include:

  • Reduced time frames: With PaaS development tools, developers drastically reduce the amount of time spent on coding new apps with the use of pre-coded components built into the platform such as workflow, directory services, security features, and more.
  • Reduced staffing: PaaS components add development capabilities without the need to add further staff elements who possess the required skills.
  • Sophisticated tools: PaaS is embedded with sophisticated tools for Business Intelligence and Analytics, which can be relatively expensive on their own, at an affordable price since users only pay for what they actually need.
  • Multiple platform development: PaaS providers typically support development options for multiple platforms, whether mobile, browsers, or computers, which makes cross-platform apps quick and easy to develop and deploy.
  • Support of the entire app lifecycle: PaaS development tools provide developers with the capabilities to support the entire application lifecycle within an integrated environment.

Software as a Service aka SaaS

Software as a Service or SaaS provides an on-demand, fully functional application over the Internet on a subscription basis. SaaS enables users to connect and use cloud-based apps over the internet for services such as email, calendars, office tools, and more.

SaaS is an entire solution that companies buy or rent from a cloud service provider where all the infrastructure, middleware, software, and app data is located in the provider’s data center. This means the SaaS provider is in charge of managing the hardware and software to ensure availability and security of the app and client data as well.

SaaS is typically referred to as on-demand software where cloud providers install and operate application software in the cloud for users to access but not manage the infrastructure. Some examples of SaaS include Gmail and Salesforce.

Some of the advantages of SaaS include:

  • Sophisticated applications: SaaS providers offer sophisticated enterprise applications at an affordable price. This model typically works well for organizations that don’t have the resources or don’t want to spend the resources to buy, deploy, and manage a software application infrastructure.
  • Free client software: Users of SaaS apps can access them directly from a web browser without the need to install the software.
  • Remote access: With SaaS apps, users can access them from any Internet-connected device. Thus, organizations avoid the constraint of developing apps that run on different types of devices since the SaaS application already takes this into account.

Database as a Service aka DaaS

Database as a Service or DaaS is a cloud computing service model that lets users access databases without the need to physically set up or install hardware, software, or any form of configuration. Database as a Service is considered an underlying layer of PaaS.

DaaS solutions run on a cloud computing platform that is provided as a service. This fast-growing service enables users to provision, manage, consume, configure, and operate database software.

Typically, DaaS solutions let organizations provision a database of their choice which can include relational and non-relational databases to support specific releases.

Some of the advantages of the Database as a Service include:

  • Agility: Setting up a database is a labor-intensive task that typically includes the provisioning of computing, storage, and networking components that must be thoroughly configured and installed. With DaaS solutions, developers sidestep this process as it is already standardized and configured in a consistent way.
  • Productivity: With numerous instances in different databases, resources are rapidly consumed. This required constant upkeep and maintenance which is why DaaS solutions manage groups of databases in a simplified way to increase productivity.
  • Reliability: With Database as a Service, standardization is important to operate databases consistently and maintain best practices. Developers are able to leverage a secure and reliable database for improved performance and application security.

As defined above, there are three main types of Cloud Computing: IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.

Other variants are derived from these three types and they include:

  • Database as a Service (defined above), 
  • Storage as a Service, 
  • Information as a Service, 
  • Testing as a Service, 
  • Disaster Recovery as a Service, 
  • Function as a Service, 
  • Serverless computing, 
  • Recovery as a Service, 
  • Mobile Backend as a Service, 
  • And more.

Next, we are going to dive into the different types of Cloud Deployment Models.

Cloud Deployment Models

Public cloud model

In a public cloud model, the entire computing infrastructure is located on the premises of a cloud computing service provider. Public clouds are typically separate from the customer and they have no physical control over the infrastructure.

Public cloud models use shared resources and offer high-performance solutions. Because they are public, they are more prone to security attacks.

In essence, public clouds are owned and operated by 3rd party cloud service providers that deliver computing resources over the Internet. All hardware, software, and other supporting infrastructure is owned and managed by the public cloud provider.

Private cloud model

In a private cloud model, all computing infrastructure hosting is hosted by the client organization and it is not shared. Private cloud uses dedicated hardware solely leveraged by the client organization. As stated before, it is not shared with others but it can be remotely located. By principle, private cloud users have physical control over the infrastructure.

Security and control levels are typically very high in private cloud models but this also entails a higher cost of investment and infrastructure.

In essence, a private cloud offers computing resources that are used exclusively by a single business. It can be physically located on the client’s data center while some pay 3rd party service providers to host a private cloud, while kept on a private network.

Hybrid cloud model

In a hybrid cloud model, the use of private and public clouds is combined, depending on the purpose of the solution. Clouds are coupled with technology that enables data and applications to be shared seamlessly. As data and applications move between private and public clouds, your business gains greater flexibility, more cloud deployment options, and optimized infrastructure.

In a hybrid cloud model, users take advantage of public cloud resources for elastic virtual resources. It also helps maintain critical applications and sensitive data in traditional data center environments or a private cloud. Additionally, data is easier to transport and move around.

Community cloud

In a community cloud model, the cloud is shared by organizations that have a common goal or that are part of a specific community. With community cloud models, the infrastructure can be located both on and off premises.

In the community cloud model, the costs are distributed across the users within the community. In essence, a community cloud is a collaborative effort to share infrastructure between organizations with common concerns such as security, compliance, and more, or common geographic regions.

How to select the best Cloud Computing type for your needs?

There is an abundance of cloud service combinations available to use and leverage into business organizations, therefore, it is important to explore and develop a sound plan and strategy to select the best Cloud Computing type for your specific needs.

Selecting the right type is critical for growth and long term success. In this section, we include a few pointers on how to select the best option:

  • Cloud strategy: Organizations are unique and their needs are unique as well. Developing a comprehensive cloud strategy helps decision-makers understand what to look for in the right fit for a cloud computing solution. Organizations must ensure that it meets their requirements, it provides the right infrastructure, it complies with the necessary policies, it protects data robustly, and more.
  • Service Level Agreements: Client organizations must look for the best service level agreement (SLA) that covers payment, operations, responsibilities, liabilities, and more, to manage service at optimum levels.
  • Security: Risk management policies, audit compliance records, and vulnerability analysis are among a few of the most important things to consider while assessing the security package of a cloud computing solution. Data security is not to be taken lightly.

Conclusion

Despite its history, cloud computing is still growing. Companies have the important task of identifying cloud computing needs and how to manage the idea of having proprietary data outside of their servers.

It’s no secret that moving to the cloud has become a definitive factor in the age of digital transformation, and your company should be ready for it with a comprehensive strategy for a cloud-based future.

At Luneba, we have the necessary tools and resources to help you boost momentum around the compelling aspects of cloud computing. Please contact us for more information and we will be happy to assist you in your cloud endeavors.

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