What is Cloud Computing?

Nov 14, 2018 | About the Cloud

In simple terms, cloud computing can be defined as on-demand remote computing resources delivered, typically, over the internet on a pay-as-you-go basis. There are many benefits available to business ranging from cost minimisation to global on-demand scalability. We will try to explain what cloud computing is, in the most simple terms possible.

How does cloud computing work?

Rather than making huge capital investments to own and operate you own computing and networking infrastructure and datacenters, you effectively “rent” the resources from a cloud hosting provider such as Microsoft Azure. Everything from virtual servers, storage, databases, and even secure VPN connections, can all be “rented” and you’ll only pay for what you use. These cloud services are often referred to by the phrase as-a-service.

When discussing Cloud Computing it is important to understand the 3 primary cloud models.

  1. Public Cloud
    These are cloud computing environments provided by external service providers such as Microsoft Azure. Public cloud enables organisations to completely eliminate the need for owned infastructure equipment and datacenters. The cloud service provider provides the necessary datacenters, hardware, power, and redundancy to operate your business without the need for capital investment.
  2. Private Cloud
    This referes to cloud computing resources, available to employees, clients, and partners of an organisation, where that organisation invests, owns and operates all of the required resources necessary to provide the computing environment. Usually there is a considerable capital investment required, as well as ongoing costs to operate the datacenter and to retain the expert staff to operate and maintain the environment.
  3. Hybrid Cloud
    By far the most common model in use today. Hybrid cloud is the integration of both public and private cloud computing models. Additionally, hybrid cloud enables businesses who might run isolated on-premise infrastructure to take advantage of larger scale deployments by integrating with a public cloud provider like Azure.

Cloud computing has 3 primmary branches of delivery and follows the “Shared Responsibility” model. In each case, the service provider takes complete responsibility for the underlying hardware – networking, storage, servers and virtualisation – as illustrated in the image below.

Microsoft Azure Cloud Models
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(Source: microsoft.com)

  1. IaaS – “Infrastructure as a Service” – describes the use of server and storage cloud delivered infrastructure.
    • IaaS provides the greatest level of control over the environment, but also requires the greatest level of technical and operational support requirements.
    • IaaS means that you are responsible for everything from the operating system and above. Your team will manage, monitor, and patch the system as needed.
    • When a business implements IaaS from a cloud hosting provider such as Azure, they will usually do so by either engaging with a qualified cloud service provider partner, or in some instances will employ a team of specialised cloud engineers.
  2. PaaS – “Platform as a Service” – describes the use but not the management of the infrastructure to host your applications.
    • Provides the deployment environment to host everything from a simple web app to sophisticated enterprise applications in the cloud.
    • PaaS avoids the cost and complexity of managing and maintaining the underlying infrastructure. You only manage the application and data. In Azure, Microsoft and a Cloud Solution Provider like Nuage Solutions, manages all of the underlying infrastructure and components for you.
    • Typical PaaS scenario’s are Azure SQL server that eliminates the need for servers and licensing; custom web applications you develop that might require on-demand scalability.
  3. SaaS – “Software as a Service” – describes a fully hosted and managed software package delivered in the cloud.
    • Provides the least amount of management.
    • End user only needs to configure the application.
    • Typical SaaS scenario’s are Microsoft Office 365, third party applications such as Salesforce.

How does cloud computing benefit business?

The greates benefits cloud computing offers to business is the considerable reduction in upfront costs of owning their own computing infrastructure. An op-ex model is often the most financially beneficial approach for a business as it provides ongoing cost benefit to the business and increases available cash flow. Additionally, the complexities involved in maintaining these resources become significant and often requires teams of specialised people employed to maintain this infrastructure.

The significant costs of owning infrastructure, from a technology perspective, is the single greatest limitation for a business when it comes to scale and growth. The global scale of Azure allows a business to access more hardware, in more geographic locations than a typical budget for an onsite datacenter would ever allow. This means that businesses can leverage the cloud to offer a much higher level of performance, reliability and access options to employees and customers than ever before.

Nuage Solutions Australia is a Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider and as a trusted Microsoft Partner we assist businesses to take full advantage of the Azure Cloud environment offering full architectural services, fully managed Cloud options, and can even take care of your on-premises infrastructure. If you would like to discuss the options available to your business get in touch with us today.