Cloud Computing: Definition and Characteristics

An approach in offering various IT services is widely known nowadays as Cloud Computing. Cloud computing is a technology that basically makes an IT Infrastructure service into a utility usually by connecting a client to a Cloud Service Provider (CSP) via the Internet. The CSP charges the client based on the usage of the resources that they avail. Cloud computing offers on-demand computing services ranging from applications to storage and even processing power via the Internet and on a pay-as-you-go setup.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)  provided the industry-standard definition of Cloud Computing: Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.


Cloud Computing Characteristics

Instead of owning your own data center that handles all the computing services needed for a business to thrive, companies nowadays use cloud computing as a more cost-efficient approach in having access to applications or storage resources. Here are the criteria that we can base upon cloud computing services to be called as such based on the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

On-demand self-service – self-service provisioning criteria wherein clients can juggle what type of computing service they require from a CSP anytime they want. Cloud computing enables end-users to provision computing capabilities such as storage resources, RAM, and server time, eliminating the traditional way of being dependent on an IT administrator to manage and provision the services needed. The consumer decides when to start and stop using the services provided by the CSP without any direct interaction with the CSP.

Broad network access – a wide variety of ways the end-user can access the cloud data that they have subscribed to anywhere as long as they are connected to the Internet or other type of networks using many types of devices such as a computer or mobile device.

Resource pooling – can also be called Multi-tenancy that lets a number of end-users share the same physical infrastructures or applications and still has security and privacy among their own data. The cloud provider pools its resources and dynamically allocates them based on the needs of its clients instead of dedicating specific servers for the use of a certain subscriber.

Rapid elasticity – to a client’s perspective regarding the resource pool criterion, it looks like resources are unlimited and are flexible enough to handle their immediate requirements as soon as possible. It means that customers can freely scale up or down their need for cloud services and cloud infrastructure based on their needs which removes the risk of spending a lot of cost on something that may not be needed in the future.

Measured Service – cloud providers can measure services usage and reports it to the consumer as a sign of transparency and for invoicing the services rendered by the cloud service providers.


Types of Cloud Computing

There are various requirements needed in considering the cloud solution, and these models below are a guide in deciding which is more suited for the business.

Private Cloud – services rendered are delivered within the premise of the customer’s data center to its internal users.

Public Cloud – a third-party provider which delivers public cloud services to consumers, such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure

Hybrid Cloud – combination of both public and private cloud. It uses current cloud technology that enables data and applications to be shared among them.


Importance of Cloud Computing

The benefits of cloud computing depend on the type of cloud model or services being used but basically, implementing cloud computing gives the business the advantage of not having to purchase and maintain their own infrastructure, which is a more cost-efficient way of utilizing precious company resources. Cloud services such as cloud storage, data storage, computing power, computing resources, or bandwidth over the Internet are sold as on-demand, usually time-based charging, but can also be through long-term commitments.

Using cloud services means companies can focus more on projects and test out concepts without extensive procurement and CapEx because firms only pay for the resources they consume. There’s no need to invest and build data centers. It is also easier and faster to scale, upgrade, and adapt new services applications because of the cloud’s flexibility.

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