Cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of IT resources over the Internet with pay-as-you-go pricing. Instead of buying, owning, and maintaining physical data centers and servers, you can access technology services, such as computing power, storage, and databases, on an as-needed basis from a cloud provider like Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Organizations of every type, size, and industry are using the cloud for a wide variety of use cases, such as data backup, disaster recovery, email, virtual desktops, software development and testing, big data analytics, and customer-facing web applications. For example, healthcare companies are using the cloud to develop more personalized treatments for patients. Financial services companies are using the cloud to power real-time fraud detection and prevention. And video game makers are using the cloud to deliver online games to millions of players around the world.
The cloud gives you easy access to a broad range of technologies so that you can innovate faster and build nearly anything that you can imagine. You can quickly spin up resources as you need them–from infrastructure services, such as compute, storage, and databases, to Internet of Things, machine learning, data lakes and analytics, and much more. You can deploy technology services in a matter of minutes, and get from idea to implementation several orders of magnitude faster than before. This gives you the freedom to experiment, test new ideas to differentiate customer experiences, and transform your business.
With cloud computing, you don’t have to over-provision resources up front to handle peak levels of business activity in the future. Instead, you provision the amount of resources that you actually need. You can scale these resources up or down to instantly grow and shrink capacity as your business needs change.
The cloud allows you to trade fixed expenses (such as data centers and physical servers) for variable expenses, and only pay for IT as you consume it. Plus, the variable expenses are much lower than what you would pay to do it yourself because of the economies of scale.
With the cloud, you can expand to new geographic regions and deploy globally in minutes. For example, AWS has infrastructure all over the world, so you can deploy your application in multiple physical locations with just a few clicks. Putting applications in closer proximity to end users reduces latency and improves their experience.
The three main types of cloud computing include Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Software as a Service. Each type of cloud computing provides different levels of control, flexibility, and management so that you can select the right set of services for your needs.
IaaS contains the basic building blocks for cloud IT. It typically provides access to networking features, computers (virtual or on dedicated hardware), and data storage space. IaaS gives you the highest level of flexibility and management control over your IT resources. It is most similar to the existing IT resources with which many IT departments and developers are familiar.
PaaS removes the need for you to manage 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.
SaaS provides you with a complete product that is run and managed by the service provider. In most cases, people referring to SaaS are referring to end-user applications (such as web-based email). With a SaaS offering, you don’t 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 software.