Understanding cloud computing: what you need to know

Written by Paul Colmer

If you’re new to cloud computing, it can be a complex technology to understand. But for businesses hoping to adapt and compete in a developing digital landscape, understanding the basics is crucial.

What is cloud computing?

Cloud computing refers to the delivery of on-demand computing services, usually over the internet on a pay-as-you-go model. These services can range from standard office applications and storage solutions, to processing power and artificial intelligence. For modern businesses, getting up to speed with cloud computing is must.

How cloud computing works

Businesses rent access to cloud computing services from a cloud service provider. This means they don’t have to own computing infrastructure or data centres – which can be extremely expensive and difficult to maintain.

Simple examples of cloud computing include tools such as Google Docs, storage services such as Dropbox, or business services such as Salesforce and Hubspot.

There are many categories of cloud computing to suit the needs of different types of businesses.

The benefits of cloud computing

While the benefits of cloud computing will differ depending on the type of service you use, there are some fundamental benefits.

As touched on earlier, a main advantage is businesses don’t need to buy servers, update applications and operating systems, or get rid of hardware or software when it becomes redundant. This is all taken care of by the service provider.

Cloud computing also gives businesses greater flexibility to scale services to fit their needs, customise applications and access services from anywhere with an internet connection.

Businesses can work with greater efficiency to better compete in the market by having access to the most innovative technology available.

7 Cloud computing terms business leaders need to understand

It may be a staple technology for many businesses, but some are yet to begin their journey into cloud computing. While there are many terms to know, it’s worth wrapping your head around a few of the basics.

  1. Cloud deployment model

Before you migrate to cloud, you need to decide on which deployment model best suits your needs. The four main models are:

  • Public cloud
  • Private cloud
  • Hybrid cloud
  • Multi-cloud

Which model you use depends on a variety of factors, such as performance needs, cost and security.

  1. Software as a service (SaaS)

This is one of three core cloud service categories. With SaaS, the provider hosts and manages applications on its own infrastructure, making those applications available to users over the internet.

  1. Platform as a service (PaaS)

With PaaS, the provider hosts resources and tools for developing applications and makes these available to customers over the internet. These kinds of services allow developers to roll out software more efficiently.

  1. Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)

The other core cloud service type is IaaS, which allows users to access and use a provider’s infrastructure – including servers, storage and networking.

  1. Advertising-based pricing model

This is a pricing model where services are offered to customers at low or no cost, but to compensate, the provider delivers ads along with the service.

  1. Consumption-based pricing model

This is a pricing model where the provider charges its customers based on the amount of the service they consume.

  1. Subscription-based pricing model

This common pricing model lets users pay a fee to use the service for a particular time period.

Covering the basics

The cloud computing glossary is extensive. But it’s worth understanding the fundamental idea behind the technology, and some of the main terms that business leaders need to know.

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About the author

Paul Colmer

Paul "Cloud" Colmer is a forward thinking digital business leader, with a passion for the practical application of disruptive technologies. As Lead Digital Architect at ALC Group he has oversight and responsibility for ALC's Digital Architecture and Cloud instruction and advisory services complemented by an array of recent cloud certifications from AWS, VMware, Microsoft and ISC2. If you’d like to learn more about a cloud computing coursecontact the experts at ALC Trainingo find the course that’s right for you.