What Is Cloud Computing?

Learn the basics of the cloud, its advantages and disadvantages, different cloud types, and the future of cloud computing.

Introduction to the cloud

Let’s say we’re a service provider and we have a lot of heavy traffic on our website. It can lead to slower loading times for web pages, resulting in a poor user experience and potentially driving visitors away. We want to solve this problem as quickly as possible. However, if we’re dependent on a third party (e.g., a data center on rent), it can take more than two days to get this thing into effect. In that case, it’s more profitable to have control in our hands. That is one benefit of using a cloud.

Note: In simple terms, we can say a cloud is like using someone else’s resources to do computational tasks.

Before cloud computing, many companies had to store all the data on their hard drives and on-premise servers. With the increase in clientele, the need for data storage rose abruptly. The increase in users crashed the servers, which made unexpected crashes difficult to manage because there wasn’t any dedicated team for this job.

It wasn’t only B2B or B2C businesses that took benefit from cloud computing, the cloud has transformed the lives of individuals as well. Our everyday use of cloud features involves Instagram reels, WhatsApp statuses, and LinkedIn posts. Whenever we update our status on social media or perform any Unified Payments Interface (UPI) transaction, we call the APIs that are hosted in the cloud. And what do we need for that? Just an internet connection!

What is an API?

An application programming interface (API) is a set of reports and protocols for building and integrating application software. You might have heard this term multiple times. Mobile backends and web applications also consume these APIs. This way a single microservice is created and can be used at multiple places.

In layman’s terms, an API is like a bridge that connects different software applications so they can communicate with each other and work together. It’s like a language that allows two different programs to understand each other and share information.

Types of clouds

Have you ever heard of a private cloud, a public cloud, or a hybrid cloud? Let’s understand their use case in detail:

  • Private cloud: An on-premises server is the best example for explaining the private cloud. To put it simply, a private cloud solution is limited to a single organization. Computing resources are not shared with any other organization. Resources are accessed over a secure virtual private network (VPN), and a limited number of people have access to it.

  • Public cloud: With this type of service, we’re fully dependent on the cloud service provider for the uptime of our resources. Everything is managed by the cloud service provider. Any social media application we use these days comes under this category.

    Today, with the increase in users, large computing resources are required and it is very difficult to purchase that costly hardware. So, the public cloud plays a significant role in those offerings as companies prefer this solution.

  • Hybrid cloud: It combines services of both public and private cloud solutions. Companies sometimes prefer this because it allows them to combine compute resources and data that aren’t sensitive by keeping them in the public cloud and sensitive resources in the private cloud. Let’s say an organization already has the on-premises database, but they only want to take the benefit of Azure Web Apps. So, they can use a hybrid cloud.

Cloud computing
Cloud computing

Advantages of Public, Private, and Hybrid Clouds

Public Cloud

Private Cloud

Hybrid Cloud

It is highly scalable and can manage unexpected heavy traffic in a few seconds using automated solutions.

It has secured environment offerings that cannot be accessed by other organizations.

Sensitive information is managed by private clouds, while public clouds manage scalability.

It has an affordable pricing tier, and costs can be calculated in advance using various tools.

It offers flexible solutions because it enables managing the infrastructure as per an organization's demand.

It can distribute the services across different data centers to achieve reliability.

Now that we’ve seen the advantages of public, private, and hybrid clouds, let’s also take a look at their disadvantages:

Disadvantages of Public, Private, and Hybrid Clouds

Public Cloud

Private Cloud

Hybrid Cloud

Once we start using one cloud provider, it can be difficult to migrate our data to another cloud provider later on.

An organization has to keep its solution up to date itself. All the security and OS patches have to be managed by the organization. For that, it requires skilled IT Engineers.

Since we’re using a combination of both services, there’s a little more complication in using a hybrid cloud than using a public cloud solution.

If there is a lag at our end in terms of internet connectivity, this can interrupt your business if we rely on the cloud to do our job.

It’s a costly cloud solution because we have to pay for extra resources in terms of hardware and staff.

This is not an ideal solution for minor companies because it can sometimes cost more than the public cloud solution.

Note: Here are some interesting facts about the Azure cloud:

It is currently operational in 54 regions worldwide, with 140 data centers in 140 countries (and counting). It now has more global regions than any other cloud provider and has no intention of slowing down.

Microsoft states that about 44 percent of its data center energy comes from wind, solar, and hydropower. They’re also aiming to increase that figure to 50 by this year.

Cloud computing is scalable and will continue to grow and give enormous benefits in the future because it’s cost-effective, and businesses can grow using its services. Cloud is no longer used as a tool. Instead, the IT industry is using the cloud for several uses.

Industries need to have the software set up to perform 360-degree tasks, and this software is hosted on cloud platforms. Right now, AWS, Azure, and Google are the most in-demand cloud platforms.

Sky Computing is a new term common these days that has been described by University of California Berkeley professors Ion Stoica and Scott Shenker as “the layer above the clouds.” This model of cloud computing will give options to companies to pick and collaborate services from different cloud providers as per their requirements.

Some companies are moving from AWS to Azure because Azure is less expensive for organizations that have invested in the Microsoft ecosystem. Azure users can use existing licenses for running workloads on the cloud, while on the other hand, users would need to pay for a permit to migrate to AWS.