In this age of globalization, technological advancements like cloud computing have changed the world. Saving and accessing considerable volumes of data from different corners of the world has become a daily necessity for most, irrespective of the individual or business. This is where cloud computing can help you. In this article, Pritish Kumar Halder discusses what cloud computing is, its multitudinous applications, the types you can use today, and its various advantages.

What is cloud computing?

Cloud computing is the system of on-demand usage of computer resources, performed remotely by the user at their convenience, generally via connected devices through the Internet. It lets you store and process data whenever and wherever you want it. The Cloud provides services you can utilize with the help of the Internet. Applications, databases, email, and file-sharing services are present-day examples of this technology. Instead of your computer’s hard drive, ‘the cloud’ or a virtual network of remote servers stores your data and apps.

Cloud computing allows you to access and edit your files, and program in real-time from a location other than your home or work computer. You may have even used cloud computing without paying it any notice. Sharing or receiving files through Dropbox, posting a new photo on Instagram, or watching a web series on OTT (Over The Top) platforms like Netflix are all instances of cloud computing services.

Advantages of cloud computing

There are as many advantages of cloud computing for individuals as there are for business operations, where accessing massive quantities of data is essential every day. Following are 11 such advantages:

1. Cost efficiency

With cloud computing, you can save money that you may otherwise spend on buying, setting up, and using hardware, software, and other IT-related infrastructure. Similarly, using cloud services reduces the cost of utilities like electricity or building physical data centers. You can also benefit from the technical know-how of your cloud service provider. Cloud computing uses the pay-as-you-go or pay-per-use model. In simple words, you just pay for the resources or services you use for the specific amount of time you use them. This eliminates the necessity for a huge lump sum investment.

2. Data recovery

By saving your data in the cloud, you can retrieve it even if your gadgets, such as your personal computer or smartphone, are damaged or unreachable. In case of a mishap, such as a power failure, computer malware or a natural calamity like a hurricane, cloud-based services allow you to restore your files as and when required. This ensures the smooth continuation of your day-to-day operations without worrying about the potential loss of data or a decrease in productivity.

3. Enhanced collaboration

Collaborating via the cloud allows you to communicate and share updated information promptly in just a few clicks. This results in improved business prospects, which helps team members collaborate more effectively. By allocating the job among the team’s professionals, cloud computing speeds up the influx of new ideas and saves both resources and efforts. For example, some companies use cloud computing to offer employees, contractors, clients and third-party firms, access to the same files when they are working on a project that spans multiple locations across the globe.

4. Scalability

Using cloud services enhances your ability to scale up or down instantly in response to changing conditions and demands. This enables you to have the necessary resources at the time you require them. Thus, cloud computing can easily adapt to a growth-based model or scale back to fit your demands.

5. Data security

Improved data security is one of the most significant advantages of cloud computing. Cloud service providers employ a variety of advanced security mechanisms, like OS (Operating System) updates and patch management, so that you can store and handle your data safely. CSPs (Cloud Service Providers) can simply configure the system to grant access on a user-by-user basis. They can use heavy encryption to protect your data while it is being used or sent over the Internet.

6. Flexibility and accessibility

If you suddenly require extra capacity to upload, download, or otherwise use your data, a cloud-based service can provide it immediately. This increased independence and adaptability can have a positive impact on your efficiency and productivity. You can also be more flexible in your work because of cloud computing. For instance, you can work at home, while commuting to and from your office, or even when you are taking a holiday if there is a work emergency. You can quickly log in to your virtual office whenever you want access to your data. This allows for better time management and work-life balance.

7. Improved analytic insights

You can monitor and optimize the flow of information between cloud servers and on-premises operations with cloud computing. It eases the analysis of trends. A study of these findings increases effectiveness reduces costs and boosts performance. Some cloud systems also include built-in data analytics to assist you in identifying key trends in consumer behavior and engagement. You can use this dynamic content to identify areas of actionable data to fulfill your desired objectives.

8. Automatic software updates

One of the most important benefits of cloud computing is that you always have access to the most recent version of the software. Your cloud provider typically provides both automatic updates and integrations regularly. This may include upgrades to servers and computer processing power, along with the latest software versions.

9. Ability to compete

You can compete with large enterprises by using a cloud computing service. It also helps you become more versatile without being limited by the time it takes an internal IT department to implement new solutions and technologies. This helps you grow quickly and gives you an advantage over any potential competitors.

10. Better quality control

Using the cloud gives you improved real-time insights into your performance, thereby allowing you to make more educated decisions. It also streamlines work by categorizing tasks. This gives you a better idea of the job to be completed and, therefore, provides you with a systematic plan for achieving results. You can also avoid human error because of data consistency and keep a simple record of any edits or updates.

11. Sustainability

Cloud computing is an environmentally friendly option that promotes sustainability. Cloud services reduce your transport-related carbon footprint as you can access your data from anywhere. It also results in a reduction of paper waste, and unnecessary usage of electricity and negates any demand for producing, buying or disposing of your hardware.

Types of cloud computing models

You can set up and use several types of cloud models which are categorized according to usage and location. Here are the three primary types of cloud deployment models:

1. Public cloud

Cloud service providers own and run these clouds and offer computing resources through the Internet. They also own and control all hardware, software and other necessary infrastructure in a public cloud. You can easily gain access to all the information you want and use it, either through a paid subscription or free of cost. You can use this model for the development and testing of new software, as it is fairly flexible and scalable to your requirements.

2. Private cloud

A private cloud refers to cloud infrastructure purely run for the benefit of a single business. You can either manage it through your in-house IT team or house it in your on-site data center. You can also request cloud services such as cloud-based infrastructure, applications or storage from the service providers and have them manage it. If you want customization or greater control, opting for a private cloud might be the best choice for you.

3. Hybrid cloud

Hybrid cloud computing connects public and private cloud spaces. It is beneficial for enterprises that handle numerous data points, including improved security for sensitive data, its applications, the level of control required, or access. You can maximize performance or functionality by combining, integrating, or personalizing it with another cloud service.

Types of cloud service

Cloud computing companies deliver their products or services in a variety of models. Here are the three basic types:

  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) refers to cloud-based infrastructure computing services like servers, storage, operating systems, and network.

  • Platform-as-a-Service: Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) provides an on-demand platform for designing, testing, delivering, and maintaining software applications.

  • Software-as-a-Service: Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is a system of distributing software packages or applications via the Internet, often by paying a subscription fee.