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Understanding Cloud Computing

cloud computing

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Cloud computing is a subscription based model for managing and sharing applications, development platforms, or computing infrastructure between multiple users or organizations. The technology is managed centrally by a managed services provider or other vender, and is accessible to users via the internet. It’s a flexible and scalable solution that allows organizations to access the technology they need, such as hardware, bandwidth and on-demand computing power, for a low monthly operating cost rather than investing in the full cost of that technology up front.

You could say it’s like buying a slice of pizza when you’re eating lunch by yourself, rather than having to buy the whole pie.

Here are some of the most important characteristics of cloud computing, as defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST):

  • On-Demand Self Service – Customers access the resources they need, such as server time and network storage, as they are needed without requiring intervention from the service provider.
  • Broad Network Access - Capabilities are available over the network and can be accessed from any platform or device (e.g., mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and workstations).
  • Resource Pooling – One IT resource can serve multiple customers using a multi-tenant model, with different physical and virtual resources dynamically assigned according to demand. Access to the resources isn’t location dependent, so a customer can be served from anywhere
  • Measured Service - Cloud computing is a subscription model where you pay for what you use. Cloud service providers can control and optimize resource usage by metering access to the resource, for instance, limiting the storage or bandwidth a customer can access, or the number of active users on the client’s account. The provider can also monitor, control and report on the amount of resources being used to provide transparency and assist in planning.
  • Rapid Elasticity - Capabilities can scale according to the customer’s need. When more resources are needed they can be made available, in some cases automatically, so that customers can use more or fewer resources as they need them.

Cloud computing is deployed four ways over three service models. The three service models are:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS) – A software developer makes their applications available to their customers over the internet via a cloud infrastructure. Customers can access the software from any device using a web browser or application interface. The provider manages and controls the underlying cloud infrastructure, including network, servers, operating systems, storage, or even individual application. Upgrades and maintenance are handled centrally by the application provider. The SaaS application usually allows for limited user-specific configuration settings.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – An infrastructure provider allows customers to access processing, storage, networks, and other computing resources. Customers can then run any software on these systems. Upgrades and maintenance of the IT infrastructure is managed and controlled by the provider, but the customer determines which operating systems, storage and applications can use the infrastructure. This model allows an organization to move its technology to the cloud, even if the applications they use aren’t normally available on the cloud.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) – Customers can deploy applications they’ve created or acquired using programming languages, libraries, services, and tools supported by the provider – onto the cloud. The underlying cloud infrastructure including network, servers, operating systems, and storage are managed and updated by the provider. The customer controls the applications and configuration of the application-hosting environment.

These models can be deployed in four different ways, including:

  • Public Cloud - The cloud infrastructure is available for open use by the general public. It may be owned, managed, and operated by a business, academic, or government organization, or some combination of them. It exists on the premises of the cloud provider. This deployment model offers customers the least amount of control over how the infrastructure can be configured.
  • Private Cloud - The cloud infrastructure is available only to specific customers or organizations. Private clouds are owned, managed, and operated by the organization, a third party, or some combination of them, and may exist on or off premises. This model offers customers the most control over how their cloud infrastructure is configured.
  • Community Cloud - The cloud infrastructure is available for exclusive use by a specific community of consumers from organizations that have shared concerns (e.g., mission, security requirements, policy, and compliance considerations). Community clouds are owned, managed, and operated by one or more of the organizations in the community, a third party, or some combination. It may exist on or off premises.
  • Hybrid Cloud - The cloud infrastructure is available for exclusive use by a single organization comprising multiple customers, business units or partners. It can be owned, managed, and operated by the organization, a third party, or some combination of them, and it may exist on or off premises.

Cloud computing is transforming how businesses access and use the technology resources necessary for their success. Tolar Systems is an expert in helping organizations leverage cloud technology to streamline their business as they grow and scale. Contact us today to learn more.