With the rise of the digital age, computer processes, and data storage have been altered drastically. In the past, you may have heard of something being stored in “the cloud.” Rest assured that nobody is referring to the actual clouds above our heads.
Cloud computing is a significant shift away from traditional IT resources companies use to improve cost, speed, reliability, productivity, and more.
What is Cloud Computing?
Simply put, cloud computing is an on-demand delivery of and access to information technology resources such as applications, servers, data storage centers, and more. When a person refers to data being stored in the cloud, the easiest way to think of it is that the data is no longer stored on that device; rather, it’s been sent to an off-site server.
Features of Cloud Computing
Data storage, data management, and general computing processes are complex. When a company uses the cloud, they use a third-party data storage center where the hardware is managed by somebody else. This has evolved from other forms of computing, colocation vs. cloud, for example, where self-managed data equipment was stored in a third-party center.
Some of the main features of cloud computing include the following:
- Increased cost-effectiveness and speed
- Scalability as a business begins to grow
- Increased levels of security
- The freeing up of IT resources to be used elsewhere
The Difference Between the Private and Public Cloud
Regarding cloud computing, you may have also heard of two common versions of the cloud: private and public. While they share similarities, crucial differences are important to cover.
The private cloud is any solution geared towards single use from an organization. All hardware or software is dedicated to solely one organization, and it is only accessible by that same customer. There is a greater level of security with private clouds, as opposed to public clouds, which is why many companies choose this type of computing.
Besides meeting regulatory requirements, there may be certain confidential documents or private information that a company does not want potentially breached by an attack on the public cloud. Some of the advantages of a private cloud server include the following:
- Exclusive environments and custom security
- No tradeoffs for scalability
- Increased and efficient performance
The public cloud is the most common version of the cloud and is a multi-use version of the cloud environment. Computing resources are shared among customers rather than dedicated to a sole customer. Access to the cloud is based on a pay-per-use basis, and certain features can only be accessed if you add them to your environment.
While public clouds are still very secure, they are mostly used by individuals or small businesses. Some key features of the public cloud include:
- A lower starting price
- Access to newer technologies via auto-updates
- The ability to scale and add new features as the business grows
Alternatives to Cloud Computing
94% of enterprises use cloud services, and 67% of enterprise infrastructure is based on the cloud. That doesn’t mean that cloud computing is the only option. For one reason or another, your organization may decide that an alternative is needed. Here are a few common options to consider:
Similar to cloud computing, fog computing utilizes a decentralized infrastructure to perform computing in the middle ground of the data and the server. With this form of computing, multiple endpoints send raw data to “nodes.” This node does the processing and sends the information back in real time.
Fog computing can be useful if you have a reduced amount of data going through a cloud server, to the point where the cost isn’t worth it, or if you seek quicker alerts in the event of an error.
The other common alternative to cloud computing is edge computing. This form of computing process data as close to the source as possible to maximize speed and processing power. This is usually done by using a local device called an edge server.
Accelerate your business processes today
Cloud computing is growing at a rapid rate, with IT spending on cloud services predicted to surpass spending on traditional services by 2025. Fortunately, numerous alternatives exist if you don’t have the framework to support cloud computing. Staying up to date on technology is about integrating cloud computing or other advanced computing within your organization if it fits your business model.