If you, like most of us, use an online service like Facebook to socialise with your friends, post photos, watch videos, and more, then you are most probably using cloud computing in some shape or form. Cloud computing is a technology that makes it possible for you to use apps, stream audio and videos, visit websites, read blogs, and more. So, what are these so-called “clouds” and what are the different types of cloud computing models? Let’s find out the details in this article.
The term “Clouds” is used to define the concept of data storage. They are data centres made up of different storage resources, connected by a network. What makes a data centre a cloud is that all of those resources are virtualised into one giant pool of shared resources, which are smart and can be automatically managed using the Internet. One of the simplest cloud computing examples is the Google Drive or iCloud Drive on your smartphone. You can store and access data on them over the Internet while not consuming storage space on your device.
Today’s clouds are smart, automated and adaptive. This means that they can meet the ever-changing needs of your apps and the ever-changing utilisation and availability of each resource. Quite simply, clouds are efficient and cost-effective alternatives to traditional data centres.
This article will educate you about different cloud services and cloud computing examples. So let’s take a look at each type of cloud computing and find out which type might be the best choice for your needs.
What is Cloud Computing?
Now that you understand what a cloud is, let’s understand the concept of cloud computing. To put it simply, Cloud computing is the process of computing data on the cloud, over the Internet, using services like storages, servers, and more.
There are many companies out there, known as ‘cloud providers’, that offer such cloud computing services to businesses. Some cloud providers offer different types of cloud computing solutions based on the types of service, the level of control over information, and safety features. Businesses choose the ones that meet their requirements and are charged for cloud computing services based on usage.
The next section will explain to you the types of clouds computing in detail.
Categories of Cloud Computing
Companies of all sizes are increasingly adopting different types of cloud services due to features such as highly efficient IT capabilities, elasticity, on-demand availability, and cost-effectiveness. But to decide which cloud computing types to use for your business, you need to understand different types of cloud services first.
A major way to categorise different cloud technologies is on the basis of cloud locations. Based on a cloud location, we can classify cloud into 4 categories. These cloud computing types are:
- Public Cloud
- Private Cloud
- Hybrid Cloud
- Community Cloud
Let’s look at these different types of cloud storage in detail in the following sections.
1. Public Cloud
A public cloud has its entire computing infrastructure located on the premises of a cloud computing company, such that it is easily accessible by the general public. The cloud provider offers the cloud service by renting space on their cloud to their many customers or tenants. Those tenants usually only pay for the services they actually use. Much like how we only pay for the electricity we consume for our energy needs.
Being a tenant of the cloud platform provider means that you will have little or no control over the cloud infrastructure – such as control over the security, IT management, and configuration of the cloud. These aspects of cloud infrastructure will be in the hands of the cloud providers, who would not have any knowledge of your business operations. For many businesses, the minimal involvement in highly technical processes of cloud management is a reason why they choose public cloud computing.
The main characteristics of Public cloud include:
- Multi-tenant architecture
- ‘Pay as you go’ pricing models
- Supports multiple customers
- No maintenance required
Since public clouds use shared computing resources, the key benefits of using a public cloud are cost savings, time efficiency, and agility. As a public cloud user, organisations do not have to buy, install, operate or maintain servers or other equipment as they would with other types of cloud computing services. This saves time, money and talent that can be focused on more revenue-generating activities.
However, since the security, maintenance and configuration are out of your hands, your data can be vulnerable to security risks. Another drawback of public cloud computing is that it follows a one-size-fits-all approach. Therefore, the generic options offered by them may restrict any customisation that may be required.
Then why do businesses choose to use a public cloud from the different types of cloud computing available?
Well, it all depends on the unique requirements of each business. Since public clouds do the management job for you, they are best suited specifically where you don’t mind giving up control. That’s why they are a popular choice for everyday apps like Email, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Human resource and other business support apps.
If you wish to use a public cloud, here is a list of some of the top vendors:
- Microsoft Azure
- IBM Cloud
- Salesforce Commerce Cloud
Here you can find a list of 21 Top Public cloud providers.
2. Private Cloud
A private cloud works the same way as a public cloud. Except that a Private cloud is solely used by one customer organisation. It is located remotely, uses dedicated private hardware and does not share resources. This allows the highest level of security and control for the customer organisation.
If you use a private cloud solution, you get the goodness of a public cloud, but you can control and customise it to fit your needs. That is why many companies are migrating to private cloud computing to manage and run core business apps that provide them with unique competitive advantages. Private clouds are commonly being used for purposes like research and development, analytics, supply chain management, business intelligence, complex ERP and more.
Generally, private hosting is divided into the following two categories:
- Externally hosted cloud solutions: Businesses can out-source to build and maintain a cloud over a private network solely for them.
- On-premise cloud solutions: When deciding upon a private cloud, businesses also have the option to choose an on-premise private cloud as well. This means that the cloud can be hosted on the organisation’s own offices, or data centres, allowing them to physically control the cloud infrastructure.
Listed below are the key characteristics of Private Cloud:
- Single Tenant Architecture
- Dedicated Customer
- High reliability
- High Security
- Scalability and self-service
The prevalent benefit of choosing a private cloud is the high level of security and control it offers. Out of all the types of cloud computing, only a private cloud allows you to tailor the cloud servers as per your own preferences. It is also more reliable and hence best-suited for secured confidential information and core system.
However, due to the high investment cost of private clouds, it is not an affordable option for a cloud solution for every business, especially smaller businesses. Even organisations that can afford the initial investment find the cost of maintaining and expanding private clouds expensive. Additionally, the on-going maintenance of a private cloud is time-consuming and requires a specialised set of skills.
Businesses need to factor the pros and cons of using a private cloud before making a decision. Typically, private cloud solutions are opted by government agencies and financial enterprises, like banks, due to their highly confidential and sensitive data.
If you are looking for a private cloud solution, here is a list of top vendors of Private Cloud for you:
- Go Grid
- Apache cloud stack
If you wish to find out more about each cloud provider, see a complete list of Top Private Cloud providers here.
3. Hybrid Cloud
Just as the name indicates, Hybrid Cloud means using both private and public types of cloud computing depending on your purpose. Hybrid clouds often use public and private clouds from multiple vendors. Such architecture enables organisations to make each aspect of their business as efficient as possible.
With Hybrid clouds, you can move between private and public clouds and choose where to place data and applications based on your needs. This flexibility allows you to benefit from the best features of both public and private clouds as per your business requirements.
For instance, since Private clouds offer higher security, it is a common practice for businesses to use them to store confidential information such as financial data and backups. They then run their other volume-intensive applications on public clouds, such as customer relationship management and emails.
Listed below are the key characteristics of Hybrid Clouds:
- High Scalability and Elasticity
- Partially shared and dedicated
- Easy transition
- Safe and secure
Due to the high scalability and elasticity, Hybrid Clouds are one of the best types of cloud computing options available. It is highly valuable for three types of use cases.
Use case # 1: Businesses with highly changing workloads. For example, if there is a spike in the demand and the workload for your order entry system increases during Black Friday sales, then the Hybrid cloud can be the best fit for you. You can run the application in your private cloud and use additional computing resources from a public cloud.
Use case # 2: Businesses with big data processing needs. Such companies can, for example, store huge amounts of relevant data on their private cloud and use a public cloud to run analytical queries.
Use case # 3: Enterprises that need to use a broader mix of IT services. For example, a business might use their private cloud to run the critical workload, and use a public cloud provider for their other services like a database.
Like most of the other cloud computing examples, the Hybrid cloud also has its own set of drawbacks. A hybrid cloud requires a high level of compatibility and network connectivity to make the private cloud interact with the public cloud. It, therefore, requires more complex IT management expertise. It can also experience performance issues when handling large volumes of data.
All in all, with Hybrid cloud computing you get the benefits of both Public and Private cloud and more, like the ability to create new and innovative apps with uncertain demands. Here is a comprehensive list of companies that offer hybrid cloud solutions:
- Windows Azure
- Dell EMC
- HPE Pointnext
4. Community Cloud
Among all the types of cloud technology, Community clouds are becoming increasingly popular. They are clouds that are shared between a number of organisations. You can think of community clouds as a hybrid large-scale private cloud constructed and operated to cater to shared goals and requirements of a community. These communities can be a group of organisations that have closely aligned objectives and cloud computing needs that can collaborate to share a cloud solution.
Community clouds can be maintained and operated by customer organisations or by a third-party cloud provider. They are a preferred type of cloud computing for joint projects, application, and research amongst a group of organisations. Using a community cloud allows sharing a central cloud computing facility that can be used for building, executing, and managing projects together.
It serves as a cost-effective alternative of Private cloud computing and a more secure alternative of Public clouds. Sharing a community cloud, spreads the cost of usage over multiple organisations and offers them higher security for their data.
Major features of Community cloud include:
- Multi-tenant architecture
- Collective control and maintenance
- Shared cost
- Safe and secure
Due to its features, a Community cloud is a type of cloud computing service that is relevant for universities, government agencies, and research institutions.
Community cloud computing offers Improved services than public clouds that are cost-effective. It offers high security, availability, flexibility, and scalability.
It is only a viable type of cloud computing when the aims of all the entities are aligned. Conflicts of interest and lack of trust among the entities can be adverse for sharing a community cloud environment.
Enough about the Types of Cloud Computing! Let’s Talk About the Benefits
A variety of businesses ranging from startups to industry leaders are adopting different forms of cloud computing. Cloud computing is increasingly being used to build apps and services, store and manage data, host websites. But what is the benefit of using cloud computing?
- “Pay as you go” Pricing models: All types of cloud computing services follow this pricing model. Which means you only pay for what you use which makes it more affordable than traditional on-site IT services
- Efficiency and agility: It saves time and effort, making business operations efficient and agile.
- Flexibility and scalability: Scalable architecture of clouds can meet a company’s increasing demand for resources.
- Security and reliability: Advanced security features keep sensitive data protected from information loss or attack.
- Environmentally friendly: Cloud computing consumes less energy and reduces the carbon footprint.
- Support: Cloud providers offer support and maintenance services.
In this technologically progressive world where we all are connected to devices and the internet 24/7, we constantly demand access to applications and information. As a result, the demand from information technology has exponentially increased which is being met by the different types of cloud storage technologies.
Cloud computing can be a solution to your IT needs as well and there are a variety of choices available for you. But before you make a decision it is important to compare public, private, hybrid and community cloud service types, depending on the type of data you are working with. Some important features to consider are varying levels of security and management and pricing. You should weigh the pros and cons of different cloud services types and only then make an informed decision.
I hope this article provided you with all the information you needed about the types of cloud computing services and their pros and cons.