What is cloud technology?
What are the use cases of cloud?
Most of us are already using cloud solutions, both in private situations and at work. We use them to store and share images with family and friends, edit documents together with colleagues, listen to music, and watch TV. For business purposes, some of the most common use cases are:
Storing, organising, recovering, and backing up data (Software as a Service and Backup as a Service)
Big Data analysis (the use of advanced and diverse analytical techniques on large data sets)
Digital solutions that allow tasks to be handled from anywhere
Testing and development of environments
The benefits of cloud computing
The cloud offers businesses time savings, cost reductions, higher security and more flexibility. Let’s dig a bit deeper into the most important benefits of cloud computing technology:
- Better operations
Cloud-based solutions run on servers that are maintained by specialised service providers, meaning they are on average more reliable than local servers. Nowadays, the uptime is nearly 100%. In addition, cloud solutions are less error-prone, have monitoring in place to discover software bugs the minute they arise and offer experts on standby to help if something should go wrong.
- Better flexibility
With cloud solutions, businesses can more easily scale up and down their investment in core systems as their needs change, gaining better business flexibility. This allows companies to spend money on other, more vital needs such as attracting and retaining skilled employees.
- Better work-life balance
With cloud, employees have the ability to work from anywhere with any device. This is a direct benefit for employees due to better work-life balance and provides more flexibility and efficiency during the workday, as they can complete tasks such as signing documents digitally in between meetings.
- Better environment
Cloud solutions require fewer physical servers and take the onus of data storage away from their customers. Not only does cloud cut costs for companies at multiple levels, but it also helps the bottom line thanks to reduced need for paper and other materials because of digital tools and more efficient collaboration.
- Better resiliency
Increasingly, companies of all sizes and focus are recognising the flexibility and resiliency that cloud services bring. Digital replacements for tasks previously done in person or by hand, such as invoicing, e-commerce, and online services, are proving to be increasingly important for businesses across the globe.
The cloud deployment models
There are three primary ways to deploy cloud services: On a public cloud, a private cloud, or a hybrid cloud.
- Public cloud: The Public cloud is a huge data centre that offers the same services to all its users. The services are accessible for everyone and heavily used by the consumer segment. Examples include services such as Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn.
- Private cloud: The Private cloud consists of cloud computing resources used exclusively by a single business or organisation. It can be physically located on the company’s on-site data centre, or companies can pay third-party service providers to host their private cloud. A Private cloud is suited for sensitive data, where the customer is dependent on a higher degree of security.
- Community cloud: The community cloud is a shared cloud computing service in which the infrastructure is shared between several organisations within a specific community. This can be a set of organisations, employees, or other communities. Such cloud solutions can be managed either internally or by a third-party hosting provider.
- Hybrid cloud: The Hybrid cloud is a combination of both Private and Public, and is bound together by technology that allows data and applications to be shared between them. This is a setup that is often used by large companies as it gives the business greater flexibility, more deployment options and easier optimisation of existing infrastructure, security and compliance.
The cloud computing layers
Cloud computing consists of four layers: Infrastructure (IaaS), Platform (PaaS), Software (SaaS), and BPO (Business Process Outsourcing).
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
The basic layer of cloud is the infrastructure – the IaaS (Infrastructure as a service). This layer consists of hardware and network. IaaS means that you rent IT infrastructure from a cloud provider on a pay-as-you-go term.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
The second layer of the cloud is the platform – the PaaS (Platform as a service). The platform layer provides resources to actually build applications, and in combination with Infrastructure as a Service, PaaS provides the ability to develop, test, run, and host applications.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
The third cloud layer is the actual Software – the SaaS (Software as a service). In a cloud setting, SaaS is the layer where the user consumes the offering from the service provider, and must be web-based and accessible from everywhere and preferably on any device.
BPO (Business Process Outsourcing)
This is the top layer of the cloud – BPO (Business Process Outsourcing). Whereas the other cloud layers are concerned with consuming services from a vendor, BPO is about outsourcing services to a vendor. Since BPO is not a technology, there is ongoing debate whether BPO should be regarded as a cloud layer. We believe that it should, since it deals with vendor services, just like the other layers do.
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