A Beginner's Guide to Cloud Computing

By IBF Singapore Posted 3yr(s) ago Reading Time: A few minutes

Cloud computing is a fast-growing technology that many organizations are adopting to enable their digital transformation. It provides exciting opportunities for businesses to grow on a global scale and also allows users to store and share data like applications and files. 

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is a flexible and agile way of designing IT services, allowing resources to be fluid and elastic. It provides companies with access to computing resources, such as servers, storage, databases and a broad range of application services, without the need to build and maintain physical servers and other IT infrastructure in-house.

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3 Types of Cloud Computing Models

There are 3 main types of cloud computing models:

1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). This is where the cloud provider will host the basic building blocks for IT infrastructure including servers and virtual machines (VMs), storage, networks and operating systems.

2. Platform as a Service (PaaS). This is where the cloud provider will provide middleware services, software development, and deployment tools to help the organization create and deploy applications on a cloud or on-premise environment. A PaaS environment supports coordination between the developer and the operations organization, typically called DevOps, web portals or gateway software.

3. Software as a Service (SaaS). This is where the cloud provider will deliver software applications over the internet, and are often referred to as "web services". Users can access SaaS applications and services from any location using a computer or mobile device that has internet access.

Private Versus Public Cloud

Cloud computing services can be private, public or hybrid, depending on what your institution requires:

Private cloud services are delivered from an institution's data centre to provide resources on demand to internal users. This approach offers the versatility and convenience of the cloud, while preserving the management, control and security over some of their most sensitive data. It is often best suited for a complex line of business applications with substantial needs to confirm and track the movement of financial transactions among customers, suppliers, and partners.

Common private cloud technologies and vendors include VMware and OpenStack.

Public cloud services are delivered over the internet, and are sold on demand, with customers paying for the CPU cycles, storage or bandwidth that they consume. Service providers here include Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, IBM and Google Cloud Platform.

A hybrid cloud is a combination of both, with some automation and linkage between the two. Institutions can run more important applications and maintain sensitive data on the private cloud, while using the public cloud for the rest of its functions.

Very often, cloud services are operating under a multi-tenant environment to enable the sharing of resources and services while keeping the data and configurations of individual customers separate.

Why Use Cloud?

The main benefits of cloud computing are:

1. Pay as you use. Instead of having to invest heavily in data centres and servers, you can pay as and when you consume computing resources, and only pay for how much you consume.

2. Scalability. Companies can scale up as computing needs arise and scale down again as demands decrease. This minimize the wastage of over-provisioning infrastructure capacity to cater to unexpected or planned high-loads periods.

3. Speed and agility. In a cloud computing environment, new IT resources can be readily accessed within minutes. This significantly reduces the cost and time it takes for developers to experiment with and implement new ideas.

Organizations can also move workloads to or from the cloud - or to different cloud platforms - as desired for cost savings or to use new services as they emerge.

4. Resilience. Cloud service providers often implement redundant resources, and across multiple locations, to ensure resilient storage and to keep important workloads running.

Benefits of Cloud Computing

Risks and Challenges

While there are advantages to the use of cloud, and the ability to choose a solution that meets business needs, there are risks that need to be considered.

1. Operational governance control. This is an important consideration, given the severity in data breaches, the potential financial penalties and loss of reputation for service disruption or system failures. Organizations should work with their service providers to establish benchmarks based on business goals and ensure compliance with the relevant laws.

2. Data availability and business continuity. A key risk to business continuity in cloud computing is the loss of internet connectivity, or an incident affecting your cloud provider that results in an interruption of services.

3. Transitioning. This is not just about planning for a move to cloud computing, but also about being prepared in the event that there is a need to cease or change the contractual relationship. Know how you will get your information back and what some of the associated costs might be.

4. Different approaches in managing cloud workloads. As compared to traditional IT environment, workloads of cloud computing need to be structured and packaged so they can be executed most efficiently.

In summary, operational performance, security, economics, and flexibility all have a great impact on an organization’s cloud strategy. Determining the right combination of public and private cloud, and the data center, is critical to achieve the best value for your organization.