Cloud computing: definition, advantages and products

What is cloud computing?

 

Cloud computing is the increasingly common practice of providing ‘on-demand’ cloud services as IT infrastructure and resources. Over the past 20 years, the practice has evolved considerably, to the extent that cloud infrastructure solutions now account for more than a third of annual computer services spending worldwide. Public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud systems have transformed the way organisations around the world - ranging from forward-thinking start-ups to global, enterprise-level companies - think about their IT infrastructures.

Cloud computing definition

In the simplest terms, cloud computing is the practice of delivering IT services remotely, hosting them in one or more external datacentres rather than through on-premises dedicated servers. Rather than purchasing and deploying the digital resources they require in-house, organisations can access them remotely via a cloud provider, on a pay-as-you-go basis.

So why are so many leading organisations powering their mission-critical IT resources via the cloud?

The advantages of cloud computing

Flexibility and agility

Thanks to cloud computing, it is possible for you (and your employees) to access files over the internet on online devices such as laptops and smartphones. It also makes it much

easier to organise data, as files can be stored, shared and organised on a cloud-based network.

Cloud services are rented, often on a pay as you go basis, so they can be agile to the demands of your business; dropping resources and acquiring new ones without hefty investment or over-allocation. This system helps ensure business continuity, but at a lower cost.

Speed of deployment

The journey to the cloud is getting shorter every day. The path - from concept to production - has never been faster or smoother for the cloud user. With the ability to deploy new resources in just a few clicks, you can scale your cloud solutions up or down seamlessly. Better scalability enables businesses to expand infrastructure, accommodate traffic peaks, deploy and delete sandbox environments, and minimise overall time to market.

Cost control

As organisations grow, the ongoing cost of its operations and IT infrastructures must be considered, in terms of both current and future requirements. The cloud’s economies of scale are difficult to match, as there is no need to anticipate workloads and invest in resources that may only be required occasionally. With cloud service providers, you only pay for what you use, when you need it, whether this involves the technology that powers your products and solutions, the IT infrastructure your organisation relies on each day, or the long-term storage of your sensitive databases.

Scalability

A digital transformation to the cloud offers unbeatable agility when it comes to scalability. Because the hardware for your solutions is fully managed externally; you are free to add or delete new resources remotely, potentially with a single click. This gives businesses more freedom to focus on how they will utilise architectures, rather than the deployment process.

Robust security

For too long, security was a serious concern for many organisations, which made them reluctant to migrate, either partially or completely to the cloud. However, cloud computing has evolved considerably over the years, in direct response to these concerns, with a range of cloud security solutions; such as leveraging secure private connections between your on-premises infrastructure and external datacentres now readily available, supported by sophisticated anti-DDoS protection and automated backups.

Freedom of location

Data location is important to consider when designing any infrastructure - not only to enhance the performance of sites and applications - but to gain certifications and fulfil compliance requirements (especially in light of regulations like the Cloud Act and GDPR!). Hosting resources securely, in external datacentres, means they can be located as close as possible to where your teams and end users are based and helping to take all the stress out of achieving compliance.

The different types of cloud computing

The concept of cloud computing is essentially simple but moving to the cloud can involve numerous approaches – from the relatively simple to the highly sophisticated. These are the three most common cloud migration approaches…

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

By automatizing the building blocks of a world-class infrastructure, organisations at all levels maximise control of their costs, while simultaneously enjoying enhanced scalability and agility. By removing the need to deploy, manage and maintain on-premises infrastructure, organisations increase their freedom to innovate. With IaaS, businesses rent out IT infrastructure - such as computing power, storage and networking - from a cloud provider; but still oversees the management of their mission-critical applications, as well as their security systems, databases and operating systems.

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

With PaaS, teams are able to manage and build, test and deploy their own applications on a cloud-based platform that is designed to benefit the user. Any underlying IT infrastructure – such as hardware, and middleware – is managed by a trusted cloud service provider. Without the need to maintain infrastructure, internal IT teams can focus on business needs relating to their data and applications, freeing them up to drive sustained business growth.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

With the SaaS model, software platforms are hosted externally, in the cloud. Users can access software over the internet, via a subscription. This frees organisations of the need to purchase, install and update key software platforms, while ensuring their key tools are accessible to teams around the world. With SaaS, the user only has to worry about managing their own data within an application, the software is handled in the cloud by an external provider.

How does cloud computing work?

For all three of the above use cases, there are several different deployment strategies, each with advantages specific to the cloud environment…

Hosted private cloud

The flexibility of the cloud combined with the raw power of dedicated resources. This allows businesses to deploy a high-performance virtual datacentre, while a cloud provider manages the hardware. This way, they enjoy the power and autonomy of a fully managed, dedicated solution, without the need to manage or maintain hardware – a perfect foundation for IT teams looking to optimise their utility.

Public cloud

On-demand cloud resources, offering everything you need to scale up from testing to full-scale deployment, with an excellent price/performance ratio and numerous opportunities to

scale. A public cloud approach is used to modernize organisations at all levels, from start-ups looking to launch their solutions as quickly as possible, to global organisations who require on-demand resources for specific projects and applications.

Hybrid cloud

A ‘best of both worlds’ cloud solution combining bare metal and cloud computing solutions - intelligently converged and integrated to maximise the advantages of both. For example, a cloud user might rely on a fleet of dedicated servers to power sites and applications, while utilising the cloud to automate and streamline the storage of data. The possibilities are near-infinite.

OVHcloud offers a range of cloud computing solutions across our different product universes, covering all three approaches, and allowing you to build your virtual infrastructure however is right for your organisation, your budget, and your long-term business goals. Please explore the different options for cloud adoption, and feel free to contact our Sales team, who will be more than happy to discuss your requirements in detail and offer advice on which cloud solutions will best suit them.