Cloud Computing: A New Connected Era
Cloud computing is a technology that has been revolutionizing the IT industry in recent years. In fact, it is increasingly used for the management, collection and storage of large amounts of data to make them available at any time and in any place.
But what exactly is it? How does it work? What services does it offer? What are the benefits?
One of the definitions that can be useful to understand better what we are talking about is that suggested by Microsoft, which, in the industry, is among the most competent: “cloud computing is the distribution of computing services, such as servers, storage resources, databases, network, software, analysis and intelligence, via the Internet (“the cloud”), to provide rapid innovation, flexible resources and economies of scale“. Service providers are companies that make this technology available.
In a nutshell, cloud computing refers to a system that stores, processes and stores networked data, applications and other IT resources on demand through the use of consumer priced hardware and software. Applications and data on remote hardware can be accessed simply by connecting to the Internet.
The purpose of using cloud services does not change its operation or characteristics. Whether it’s a support tool for business operations or simply sharing photos among millions of users, a cloud platform allows access to all resources quickly and inexpensively wherever you are. The cost varies exclusively on the basis of the actual rate of use of the service.
In practice, all this translates into a server driven by software that provides the computing capacity (CPU) and storage (disks). The services are then located among all the available servers to which new ones can be easily added. In fact, to date, there are cloud configurations consisting of tens of thousands of servers.
The most trivial example of cloud is the mail that, being easily accessible almost everywhere thanks to a working internet connection, fully represents what has been said so far on the subject of cloud computing. But also watching streaming movies, listening to music or storing photos and videos on a platform – so you can have them available when and where you want them – are simple demonstrations of what constitutes a cloud service.
As you can guess, those mentioned so far are, at least for the most part, operations that do not require a great deal of money and, in some cases, can be totally free. In fact, the sphere in which cloud services make a great contribution and, at the same time, manage to make a profit is the corporate one in which the amount of data to be stored is certainly greater than the needs of any user.
Later we will see what are, currently, the main uses of cloud computing. First, however, it is necessary to underline the advantages that such a service brings with it.
Advantages of Cloud Computing
This technology represents a major innovation in the IT sector that brings several benefits.
First and foremost, the cost. Relying on cloud computing means cancelling all expenses related to the purchase of hardware and software and the configuration and management of local data centers. These expenses are quite a burden on business capital as they require server racks, all-day electricity for power and cooling, and IT experts to manage the infrastructure. So, it’s easy to see that if you rely on cloud services, the cost gain is quite high.
Reliability is another element that characterizes this type of service. By mirroring data across multiple sites on the provider’s network, cloud computing increases simplicity and reduces backup, disaster recovery and business continuity costs.
The level of security also increases in some respects. Cloud services offer policies, technologies, and controls that help protect data, apps, and infrastructure in general from critical issues and threats.
From a productivity perspective, cloud computing improves time efficiency by avoiding the execution of certain tasks that the corporate team usually spends several hours working on. We’re talking, for example, about hardware configuration, applying software patches, or other IT management tasks. This has a major advantage in that the team can focus on more important business objectives.
In addition, most of the actions that usually take several hours, thanks to cloud services, are reduced to a few minutes. In fact, most of these services are provided in self-service mode and at the user’s request, and even large amounts of computing resources can be provisioned in a limited time. This allows companies to enjoy great flexibility and speed of action.
Among the benefits of cloud computing, it is essential to mention global scalability. This type of technology offers the ability to scale down resources, i.e. provide the right amount of computing power, storage resources, and bandwidth, when and where the user requires it.
Finally, the performance of a cloud service running on a worldwide network of secure, up-to-date, fast and efficient data centers is far superior to that of a single enterprise data center. We’re talking about benefits that can be traced back to reduced network latency for applications and greater economies of scale.
Why use a cloud computing service?
With the services and benefits of Cloud Computing, the B2B ecosystem is moving towards an increasingly integrated and connected world. This change in the IT world has given companies the opportunity to create a virtual sales office and move away from the isolated environment in which they have always been accustomed to operate to arrive at a whole new made up of large corporate networks with automated operation and full control over processes and data. Cloud computing, therefore, allows you to integrate business partners and connect with new businesses by collaborating in the development of innovative strategies and technologies.
Let’s see in detail what we are talking about.
The best collaboration that this type of service offers is precisely one of the points that have made this technology attractive to companies. Cloud computing connects businesses, partners, employees and customers, giving them access to detailed information about B2B transactions and business operations through a secure interface.
Still, it can be said that with this transformation, companies can get integrated cloud-based analytics that help them study big data. The goal is, of course, to derive valuable and usable information on customer behavior in order to offer personalized services.
Cloud computing is making it easier and more effective for business partners to join any B2B project. Before the introduction of cloud services, even the most skilled IT companies struggled to keep up with the onboarding and management of their many business partners. Now, with secure workflow, data (products, contracts and agreements) and transaction management, it’s much easier to integrate partners into any project and give them access to all the information they need. This allows B2B companies to meet virtually and operate remotely.
In conclusion, therefore, we can say that the advantages of Cloud Computing are even more evident in the B2B world. In fact, we are not only talking about a simple reduction of overall costs, but also about helping organizations to improve their activities with a multi-device and omni-channel approach. In addition, cloud computing reduces time-to-market, improves collaboration efficiency, and helps organizations move to a more dynamic business network where they can take advantage of better opportunities.
The main types of cloud
Depending on the user’s needs, different models, types and services of cloud computing can be distinguished.
To begin with, you need to determine the type of cloud distribution, i.e. the architecture, in which the cloud services will be deployed.
There are three ways to deploy cloud services: public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud.
This type of cloud is owned by a third party service provider, which provides computing resources, such as servers and storage resources, over the internet. In this case the hardware, software and support infrastructure belong to the provider that manages them. These services can be accessed using a web browser.
This is a type of cloud where services and infrastructure are managed by a private network. Usually located in a company’s local data center, the private cloud is owned by a single company that has exclusive use of it.
Combine private and public clouds by sharing data and applications between the two types of clouds. With this feature, the hybrid cloud gives your business more flexibility and deployment options by improving your existing infrastructure, security and compliance.
Types of cloud computing services
Knowing and understanding the differences between the different types of services offered by cloud computing is necessary for businesses as it simplifies the achievement of business objectives.
There are four main categories of cloud computing services: IaaS, PaaS, serveless computing and SaaS.
IaaS: Infrastructure as a Service.
IaaS is the basic category of cloud computing services. In this case, the IT infrastructure, i.e. servers and virtual machines (VMs), storage resources, networks and operating systems, is rented from a consumer-based cloud service provider.
PaaS: Platform as a Service.
PaaS refers to cloud computing services that provide an on-demand environment for the development, testing, deployment and management of software applications. The advantage of this category of services is that developers create Web or mobile apps more easily and quickly, without paying particular attention to configuring or managing the underlying server infrastructure, storage network and databases required for development.
Serveless cloud services aim to create apps to maximize the time spent managing the servers and infrastructure you need. In this case, the provider automatically coordinates configuration, capacity planning and server management. These architectures are event-driven, offer high scalability, and use resources only when needed.
SaaS: Software as a Service
This latter type of cloud service is based on the distribution of software applications over the Internet, on demand and generally in relation to a subscription. Providers host and manage the software application and underlying infrastructure, and perform tasks such as software updates and security patching. Through a web browser in the phone, tablet or computer, users connect to cloud-based applications and manage their tasks and resources quickly and with minimal upfront costs. Access to data from anywhere and from any device, payment of only the resources used, access to sophisticated applications are just some of the benefits that this type of cloud service offers to businesses.
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