In 2006, Amazon Web Services (AWS) began offering IT infrastructure services to businesses as a cloud computing pioneer.
One of the key benefits of cloud computing is the opportunity to replace upfront capital infrastructure expenses with low variable costs that scale with your business.
With the cloud, businesses no longer need to plan for and procure servers and other IT infrastructure weeks or months in advance.
Instead, they can instantly spin up hundreds or thousands of servers in minutes and deliver results faster.
What Is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of compute power, database, storage, applications, and other IT resources through a cloud services platform via the Internet with pay-as-you-go pricing.
With cloud computing, you don’t need to make large upfront investments in
hardware and spend a lot of time on the heavy lifting of managing that hardware.
Instead, you can provision exactly the right type and size of computing resources you need to power your newest bright idea or operate your IT department.
A cloud services platform such as Amazon Web Services owns and maintains the network-connected hardware required for these application services, while you provision and use what you need via a web application.
Six Advantages of Cloud Computing
- Trade capital expense for variable expense — Instead of having to invest heavily in data centers and servers before you know how you’re going to use them, you can pay only when you consume computing resources, and pay only for how much you consume.
- Benefit from massive economies of scale — By using cloud computing, you can achieve a lower variable cost than you can get on your own. Because usage from hundreds of thousands of customers is aggregated in the cloud, providers such as AWS can achieve higher economies of scale, which translates into lower pay as-you-go prices.
- Stop guessing capacity — Eliminate guessing on your infrastructure capacity needs. You can access as much or as little capacity as you need, and scale up and down as required with only a few minutes’ notice.
- Increase speed and agility — In a cloud computing environment, new IT resources are only a click away, which means that you reduce the time to make those resources available to your developers from weeks to just minutes.
- Stop spending money running and maintaining data centers — Focus on projects that differentiate your business, not the infrastructure.
- Go global in minutes — Easily deploy your application in multiple regions around the world with just a few clicks.
Types of Cloud Computing
As cloud computing has grown in popularity, several different models and deployment strategies have emerged to help meet specific needs of different users.
Each type of cloud service and deployment method provides you with different levels of control, flexibility, and management.
Understanding the differences between Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS), as well as what deployment strategies you can use, can help you decide what set of services is right for your needs.
Cloud Computing Models
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) contains the basic building blocks for cloud IT and typically provides access to networking features, computers (virtual or on dedicated hardware), and data storage space.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Platform as a Service (PaaS) removes the need for your organization to manage the underlying infrastructure (usually hardware and operating systems) and allows you to focus on the deployment and management of your applications.
This helps you be more efficient as you don’t need to worry about resource procurement, capacity planning, software maintenance, patching, or any of the other undifferentiated heavy lifting involved in running your application.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Software as a Service (SaaS) provides you with a completed product that is run and managed by the service provider.
In most cases, people referring to Software as a Service are referring to end user applications.
With a SaaS offering you do not have to think about how the service is maintained or how the underlying infrastructure is managed; you only need to think about how you will use that particular piece of software.
A common example of a SaaS application is web-based email which you can use to send and receive email without having to manage feature additions to the email product or maintain the servers and operating systems that the email program is running on.