There sometimes seems to be a bit of confusion regarding what we’re talking about when we talk about “the cloud.” Maybe the image that the term “the cloud” presents is just too vivid. People who aren’t familiar with what the cloud is sometimes think that it’s just some mysterious, fantastical place where data is stored. They may even imagine cloud computing takes place above them, up somewhere in the stratosphere. The truth is that the cloud consists of real, physical components that store data and do so much more.
What Is the Cloud?
The cloud is basically just the internet. Its hardware is located in data centers spread around the world. Google alone has seven huge data centers filled with physical components that range from servers to pipes that carry water for cooling the equipment (The Telegraph, Friday, September 14, 2018). Smaller cloud companies exist, too. They also have physical equipment and make agreements with their customers for the use of their services.
What You Can Do on the Cloud
Cloud storage is a very familiar service. Some of the most popular cloud storage services include: OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, and iCloud. When you use one of these services, your data is stored securely on a server or multiple servers, usually at the physical location of a hosting company. Using the cloud for data storage can be very beneficial, but you can do many other important jobs using cloud computing, too.
Get Software as a Service
Software as a Service means that you buy the use of software applications to use in cloud computing rather than buying the software itself and installing it on your local computer. You might recognize some of the big players in the SaaS game:
- Microsoft Office 365.
- Adobe Creative Cloud.
- Quickbooks Online.
- Citrix Go To Meeting.
- Amazon Web Services SaaS.
- Google G Suite (including Gmail and Google Calendar).
- ADP for payroll and human services.
When you use SaaS, you’re using cloud-based applications on the internet. Typically, you connect to the SaaS cloud service provider by using a web browser, such as Google Chrome, Safari, or Internet Explorer. No matter where you are, if you have a computer and an internet connection, you can log into your SaaS account and do tasks like checking your email or calendar, collaborating with business associates or others, or even doing complex business tasks.
Businesses use SaaS services for customer relationship management (CRM). They manage documents through SaaS. They also do enterprise resource planning through ERP apps on the cloud. There are two ways to pay for SaaS. You can pay a subscription fee, or you can pay based on your level of use.
Your website is hosted on the cloud, one way or another. Either you choose cloud hosting, use a Virtual Private Server (VPS), or have shared or dedicated hosting. Which you choose will determine factors like: where the server is located, what physical components are at the location of the hosting company, whether your data and cloud computing happen on shared or private servers, and the amount of resources you’re guaranteed.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provides a way to avoid having a large data center at your business location. For IaaS, cloud providers offer servers, networking, and storage hardware that companies can use rather than buying these components for their physical location. IaaS providers also offer additional services, like detailed billing, monitoring, backup, and recovery.
Some of the things you can do with IaaS include:
- Create a “virtual machine,” which is a computer file that acts like a real computer.
- Install operating systems in a virtual machine.
- Set up databases.
- Track costs.
- Monitor performance.
- Balance network traffic.
- Troubleshoot apps.
- Manage disaster recovery.
Develop Software Apps and Perform Business Analysis
With Platform as a Service (PaaS) in cloud computing, you can develop your own software. You can create the software, test it, deliver it, manage the app once it’s in use, and update it whenever you need to do so. You pay for PaaS as you go, based on how much you use it.
PaaS has all the infrastructure that IaaS has, including servers, networking, and storage. It also has other components, called middleware, that include: database management, business intelligence, and development tools.
With PaaS, you can use cloud computing to analyze your business data. You can discover patterns within your business so that you can make more accurate predictions about what will happen for your company in the future. PaaS can help you make better decisions about product design.
Benefits of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing comes with a host of benefits. Its costs are operating costs rather than capital costs, and you pay only for what you use. It’s fast, flexible, and scalable. By using cloud computing, you eliminate the work of setting up an on-site data center, maintaining it, and having a large staff to run it.
Data centers are being updated continuously, so you don’t need to lay out more money for new local software every year. Cloud computing facilitates data backup, data recovery, and business continuity, so it builds reliability into your business computing. In short, it cuts costs and work and increases productivity, performance, and reliability.
Cloud computing isn’t just for data storage at all. With cloud computing, you can reduce your need for infrastructure at your site, develop apps for your business, do business analysis, use software without installing it on your local computers, and host your website. Cloud computing not only has the benefits of reduced costs, speed, flexibility, and scalability; it also allows you to use services that might not be available to you otherwise.
Understanding cloud computing and the opportunities it brings can be a daunting task, especially for a business owner who is focused on their own products, services, and unique selling proposition. JMARK can help you learn what you need to know and take full advantage of cloud computing. Simply contact JMARK at JMARKIT@JMARK.com or call 844-44-JMARK for help with all your I.T. needs. JMARK is a managed services provider offering a wide range of I.T. services to aid you in achieving your business goals.