A Guide on Cloud Computing

Since its emergence around a decade ago, cloud computing has emerged as a key player in providing streamlined solutions for businesses. Cloud service providers, in turn, have helped businesses move forward and become more organised, efficient, and cost-effective. For businesses to better understand what type of cloud computing is best suited to their company, we’ve put together this guide. Understanding cloud computing is part of what we do, as a leading business, IT support provider operating in Oxford and beyond. Read on for more understanding of what cloud computing is, the benefits of cloud computing and more.

What is cloud computing?

Cloud computing enables all company data and processes to be run from an internet-based server, with outsourced online platforms forming the data centre for all business operations.

Cloud computing services generally fall into the below categories:

  • Servers
  • Storage
  • Databases
  • Networking
  • Software
  • Analytics
  • Intelligence

What is the cloud?

The cloud is the online network that serves as a platform to store, manage, and organise data. This may be personal, company data, or more advanced systems and processes. The cloud network was introduced as a way to reduce cost and massively increase efficiency when it came to data storage, streamlining productivity and reducing costs of expensive hardware and software.

The purpose of the cloud

When implemented efficiently, cloud computing solutions in the form of cloud-based services can benefit a company through:

  • Cost
  • Global scale
  • Performance
  • Security

How does cloud computing work?

Cloud computing works by using an internet connection to download, store and access data. For companies, depending on the particular cloud system they install, they will have the ability to manage certain tasks, or have certain tasks and processes managed by a third party, otherwise known as cloud consulting services.

The cloud can be used for a number of processes including:

  • Data backup
  • Disaster recovery
  • Email
  • Virtual desktops
  • Software development & testing
  • Big data analytics

Is the cloud safe?

A topic debated by businesses and making many hesitant to take the plunge and transfer to the cloud is the fact that it leaves your data somewhat vulnerable to ‘the internet’. Although there are some concerns regarding the security of the cloud, some cloud managed services such as those offered by CiS have additionally built-in security for this very reason. With advances in technology allowing cloud service providers to predict the direction cybercrime will take, so can cloud providers take matters into their own hands and ensure their customers – ie. normal businesses- can rely on the cloud without their sensitive data falling victim to data breach or theft.

Types of cloud computing

The different models, types and cloud services available differ more than ever before, meaning businesses can find a cloud service that suits their exact needs, allows for growth and expansion, but doesn’t unnecessarily complicate things. We touch on the main types of cloud computing below:

Public cloud hosting

  • Account is owned/operated by a third party cloud host provider
  • Resources such as servers and storage are delivered over the internet
  • Hardware, software and support information is all directly owned and managed by the cloud provider, done so over a web browser

Private cloud hosting

  • With private cloud hosting, cloud computing resources are accessed specifically by one company, ie, working on a completely private network.
  • A single company or business has the cloud network physically located on-site in a data centre, with some companies outsourcing to service providers for some infrastructure services.

Hybrid cloud hosting

  • Hybrid cloud is the latest development in cloud computing technology and features a combination of both private and public cloud hosting.
  • This advancement has largely been developed to give businesses increasing levels of flexibility. With various deployment options, access is available to those who need it, when they need it.
  • Hybrid cloud hosting helps to optimise a company’s existing infrastructure, security and compliance to factor in 3rd parties as and when appropriate.

Types of cloud service

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

The most basic form of cloud computing.

IT infrastructure includes:

  • Servers
  • Virtual machines
  • Storage
  • Networks
  • OS

Infrastructure as a service would be delivered by cloud service providers such as CIS on a pay as you go basis. IaaS uses public cloud managed services while still providing a full range of services including scalable databases, virtual private networks, big data analytics, developer tools, machine learning or application monitoring.

Many view IaaS as the fundamental building block for Cloud IT. IaaS offers, in many ways, the highest level of flexibility due to the fact that it is accessible by a web browser.

For those concerned about levels of security, here at CIS, we offer cloud service solutions with advanced security measures for complete peace of mind, as well as a dedicated team who are on hand to assist as and when appropriate or necessary.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

SaaS is a method of delivering software applications in a variety of forms, including:

  • Over the internet
  • On-demand
  • On a subscription basis

When companies use SaaS, cloud managed services and cloud hosting providers host and manage software applications for their customers, and handle all the maintenance of software upgrades and security patching.

SaaS also offers options for addons and modifications, which can benefit companies working closely with customers. Configuration options on a case by case basis are one of the main features of SaaS, and SaaS is the type of cloud computing behind both Google Suite (email, calendar) and Office 365.

SaaS eliminates the need for organisations to install and run applications on their own computers and own data centres and is a popular cloud computing option.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

This type of service provides separate sets of services and workflows that specifically target developers.

This way of working removes the need for companies to concern themselves with underlying infrastructure maintenance, and rather focus on the actual management of the software applications and deployment. The tools, processes and APIs are shared to allow for maximum development. PaaS, in general, helps with efficiency – capacity planning, software maintenance, developer tools, database management systems, you name it – these all fall under the umbrella of providing Platform as a Service. 

Advantages of cloud computing

In general, cloud computing services are brought into a company to help better manage their day to day processes. With all files and storage based online, data can be accessed anywhere, anytime, meaning you aren’t restricted to one location or internet connection. In particular, as society moves towards a modern approach to working, including increasingly relaxed views to working from home, cloud computing solutions are becoming more and more popular.

For growing businesses, cloud computing solutions offer:

  • Lower operating costs
  • Faster running infrastructure
  • More efficiency as the business grows

One of the most advantageous features of the cloud is its elasticity. The term ‘elasticity’ is used a lot as the cloud is deliberately advanced in its technological processes in order to provide companies with the option to grow and expand as naturally as companies do. Business needs change and fluctuate, and the cloud as a data storage system allows for such fluctuations at an advanced level.

Through automation and agility, the cloud now pretty much outranks the capabilities of even the most advanced software and hardware that could be stored on the premises. Again, hardware such as this would be expensive to manage, protect and run.

Rather, cloud storage can be provided with the latest advancements in cloud security as well as licensed and experienced cloud providers, who are on hand to assist with any problems.

Disadvantages of cloud computing

What many see as a disadvantage of cloud computing are the potential loopholes when it comes to security. Having all your company data and processes managed from a remote server does bring with it, potential risks in terms of cybersecurity.

Many businesses still view the cloud as a risky option. However, increasingly advanced cybersecurity solutions and technology enable companies to better prepare and protect themselves against any potential cyberattacks.

Nowadays, advanced cloud solutions offer advanced security including encryption, advanced firewalls detection, event logging, internal firewalls, and physical security.

Cloud providers differ, however, many cloud service providers will comprise of handling set up, capacity planning and server management, so individual companies and employees won’t have to. This is another benefit of the cloud, and stems back to the original reason why Cloud emerged around a decade ago – to improve productivity and let employees get on with the task in hand, wherever they are based in the world.

For more information about the cloud support services, we can offer you, contact us today. With a range of expertise and 30 years of experience in providing IT support Oxford businesses and beyond can rely on. 


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