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Cloud computing services

Cloud computing turns IT infrastructure into a utility. It allows you to ‘plug in’ infrastructure over the internet and access computing resources without having to install or maintain them on-premises.

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What is cloud computing?

Cloud computing is on-demand access, via the internet, to computing resources–applications, servers (physical servers and virtual servers), data storage, development tools, networking capabilities, and more–hosted at a remote data center managed by a cloud services provider (or CSP). These resources are made available by the CSP for a monthly subscription or they are charged according to their usage.

Cloud computing is a better alternative to traditional IT and, depending on which cloud services you choose, it can do the following:

Reduced IT costsCloud allows you to offload some of the cost and effort involved in purchasing, installing, configuring and managing your on-premises infrastructure.

Increase agility and speed-to-valueCloud allows your company to start using enterprise apps in minutes instead of waiting for IT to reply to a request, configure supporting hardware and install software. Cloud allows you to empower developers and data scientists to help themselves with software and support infrastructure.

Scale up more quickly and cost-effectivelyCloud offers flexibility. Instead of buying excess capacity that is not being used during slow periods, you are able to scale capacity up or down according to spikes or dips in traffic. Your cloud provider’s global network can be used to bring your applications closer to users all over the globe.

Cloud computing also refers to technology that makes cloud computing possible. This includes some form of virtualized IT infrastructure–servers, operating system software, networking, and other infrastructure that’s abstracted, using special software, so that it can be pooled and divided irrespective of physical hardware boundaries. A single hardware server can be broken down into multiple virtual servers.

Virtualization enables cloud providers to make maximum use of their data center resources. Many corporations have adopted cloud delivery to maximize their on-premises IT infrastructure. This allows them to realize cost savings and maximum utilization, and offers the same flexibility and self-service to their customers.

You almost certainly use cloud computing at work or home on your computer or mobile device. It could be a cloud service like Google Gmail, Salesforce, streaming media such as Netflix, or cloud storage like Dropbox. According to a recent survey, 92% of organizations use cloud today (link resides outside IBM), and most of them plan to use it more within the next year.

Cloud computing services

IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service), PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) , and SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) are the three most common models of cloud services, and it’s not uncommon for an organization to use all three. There is often confusion about which of the three models to use and what each one includes.

SaaS (Software-as-a-Service)

SaaS, also known as cloud-based or cloud applications, is software that is hosted in the cloud. You can access it via a web browser or a dedicated desktop client. An API that integrates with your mobile or desktop operating system, and you can use it. SaaS users typically pay a monthly or an annual subscription fee. Some may offer a ‘pay as-you-go pricing depending on how much you use.

SaaS offers many benefits beyond the time-savings, cost-savings, and scaling advantages of cloud.

Upgrades automatically:SaaS allows you to take advantage of new features immediately the provider adds them without the need for an upgrade on your premises.

Data loss protection:Your application data is stored in the cloud so you won’t lose it if your device fails.

SaaS is today’s primary delivery model for commercial software. There are many SaaS solutions, ranging from the most specific industry and departmental applications to the most powerful enterprise software databases and AI (artificial Intelligence) software.

PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service)

PaaS offers software developers an on-demand platform–hardware and complete software stack, infrastructure and even development tools- for running, developing and managing applications without the complexity and cost of maintaining it on-premises.

PaaS is a cloud service that hosts all the resources of a cloud provider, including servers, networks, storage and operating system software. To’spin up’ the servers and environments needed to build, test and deploy, maintain, update and scale their applications, developers can simply choose from a list.

PaaS today is often built around container, which is a virtualized computing model that is one step away from virtual servers. Containers virtualize the operating system, enabling developers to package the application with only the operating system services it needs to run on any platform, without modification and without need for middleware.

Red Hat OpenShift, a popular PaaS, is built around Kubernetes and Docker containers. It’s an open-source container orchestration solution that automates the deployment, scaling, load balancing and other tasks for container-based apps.

Learn more about PaaS

IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service)

IaaS allows you to access the most fundamental computing resources, such as storage, networking, virtual servers, and networking over the internet. It is available on a pay per use basis. IaaS allows end users to scale or shrink resources as needed, which reduces the need for large, upfront capital expenditures, unnecessary infrastructure or on-premises costs. It also makes it possible to overbuy resources to meet periodic spikes in usage.

IaaS, in contrast to PaaS and SaaS (and even the newer PaaS computing models like containers and serverless), provides users with the lowest level of control over computing resources in the cloud.

When it was first introduced in the early 2010s, IaaS was by far the most popular cloud computing platform. It is still the most popular cloud model for many types workloads. However, SaaS and PaaS are growing much faster.

Learn more about IaaS

Serverless computing

Serverless computing, also known as serverless, is a cloud computing model which offloads all backend infrastructure management tasks to the cloud provider. This allows developers to concentrate on their code and business logic.

Serverless executes application code per request and scales the infrastructure automatically to meet the requests. Serverless allows customers to only pay for the resources used by the application. They don’t pay for idle capacity.

FaaS, or Function-as-a-Service, is often confused with serverless computing when, in fact, it’s a subset of serverless. FaaS allows developers the ability to execute specific portions of their application code (called functions), in response to certain events. The cloud service provider provisioned everything, including the code, in real time as the code is executed. Once the execution is complete, the cloud service provider spins it back down. When execution begins, billing stops and starts again.

Learn more about serverless

Types of cloud computing

Public cloud

A public cloud is a type or cloud computing where a cloud service provider makes computing resources available to users via the internet. This includes everything from SaaS apps to individual virtual machines (VMs), to bare-metal computing hardware to complete enterprise-grade infrastructures, and development platforms. These resources may be free or paid for.

The public cloud provider is responsible for all data centers, hardware and infrastructure that its customers use. It typically offers high-bandwidth connectivity to ensure fast access to data and high performance.

Public cloud is a multi-tenant environment–the cloud provider’s data center infrastructure is shared by all public cloud customers. These customers can be in the thousands at the most popular public clouds, which include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud and IBM Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Azure and Oracle Cloud.

The global market for public cloud computing has grown rapidly over the past few years, and analysts forecast that this trend will continue; industry analyst Gartner predicts that worldwide public cloud revenues will exceed USD 330 billion by the end of 2022 (link resides outside IBM).

Many companies are shifting portions of their computing infrastructure into the public cloud. Public cloud services are flexible and scalable and can adapt to changing workloads. Customers pay only for the services they use, which means that customers are more efficient and less wasteful. Others are interested in reducing hardware and infrastructure costs.

Learn more about public cloud

Private cloud

A private cloud is a cloud environment where all computing resources and cloud infrastructure are available to one customer. Private cloud offers many benefits, including elasticity, scaleability and ease of service delivery, but also the security and access control of on-premises infrastructure.

A private cloud is usually hosted in the customer’s data centre. A private cloud can be hosted in the customer’s data center or on an infrastructure provided by an independent cloud provider.

Private cloud is often preferred by companies over public cloud. This is because it’s easier (or more convenient) to comply with regulatory compliance requirements. Private cloud is also preferred by companies that deal with confidential documents and intellectual property (PII), financial records, or other sensitive data.

A private cloud architecture built according to cloud native principles gives an organization the ability to move workloads to the public cloud or run them in a hybrid cloud environment (see below), whenever it’s convenient.

Learn more about private cloud

Hybrid cloud

Hybrid cloud can be described as a mix of private and public cloud environments. A hybrid cloud is ideally a combination of public and private clouds. It allows an organization to run its applications and workloads on a single infrastructure.

Hybrid cloud allows organizations to have a combination of private and public cloud resources. This gives them the ability to choose the best cloud for their workloads and allow them to easily move work between clouds as the circumstances change. This allows the organization to achieve its business and technical objectives more efficiently and cost-effectively than with only public or private clouds.

Watch my video, “Hybrid Cloud Explained” (6:35):

Learn more about hybrid cloud

Multicloud and hybrid multicloud

Multicloud refers to the simultaneous use of multiple clouds from different cloud providers. Multicloud environments can be created by simply using email SaaS and image editing SaaS respectively from one vendor. Enterprises often talk about multicloud when they refer to using multiple cloud services, including SaaS and PaaS from two or more leading public cloud providers. According to a survey, 85% of companies reported using multicloud environments.

Hybrid multicloud refers to the combination of multiple public clouds and a private cloud environment.

Multicloud is a way for organizations to avoid vendor lock-in and have access to more innovative services. The more cloud you have, the more complicated it is to manage. Each cloud has its own management tools, data transmission rates and security protocols. Multicloud management platforms allow visibility across multiple cloud providers through a central dashboard. Development teams can view their projects and deploys. Operations teams can keep an eye over clusters and nodes and cybersecurity staff can monitor for potential threats.

Learn more about multicloud

Cloud security

Security concerns have always been a major obstacle to organizations considering cloud services, especially public cloud services. Cloud service providers are offering greater security than traditional on-premises solutions in response to increasing demand.

According to security software provider McAfee, today, 52% of companies experience better security in the cloud than on-premises (link resides outside IBM). And Gartner has predicted that by this year (2020), infrastructure as a service (IaaS) cloud workloads will experience 60% fewer security incidents than those in traditional data centers (link resides outside IBM).

However, cloud security requires different processes and skillsets from employees than in legacy IT environments. These are some cloud security best practices:

Security sharing:Cloud providers are generally responsible for the security of cloud infrastructure, while customers are responsible for protecting their data in the cloud. However, it is important to clearly identify who owns the data between private and public parties.

Data encryption:Encryption should be used to protect data while in transit, at rest, and during use. Customers must have full control of security keys and the hardware security module.

Management of access and identity for users:Customers and IT teams must have complete understanding and visibility into the network, device, app, and data access.

Collaborative management:Cloud integrations that are seamless and secure will only be possible if there is clear communication between the IT, security, and operations teams.

Monitoring compliance and security:It all starts with understanding the regulatory compliance standards for your industry. Then, you need to set up active monitoring of all connected services and cloud-based cloud services in order to keep visibility of all data exchanges between private, public and hybrid cloud environments.

Learn more about cloud security

Cloud use cases

Cloud computing is a viable option for many applications, with 25% of organizations aiming to migrate all their applications to the cloud in the next year. Even if companies are not looking to make a major shift to the cloud, there are certain initiatives that can be used with cloud computing.

Disaster recovery and business continuity have always been a natural for cloud because cloud provides cost-effective redundancy to protect data against system failures and the physical distance required to recover data and applications in the event of a local outage or disaster. All of the major public cloud providers offer Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS).

Cloud computing is a good choice for anything that requires large amounts of data storage and processing at high speeds. Examples include:

Big data analytics

Internet of Things (IoT).

Artificial intelligence–particularly machine learning and deep learning applications

Cloud offers on-demand self-service to developers who use Agile, DevOps (or DevSecOps), to help them streamline their development.

IBM Cloud

IBM Cloud is the most secure and open public cloud platform available for businesses. It offers a next-generation hybrid multicloud platform with advanced data and AI capabilities and enterprise expertise in 20 industries. IBM Cloud hybrid cloud solutions offer flexibility and portability both for applications and data. This hybrid cloud stack supports Linux(r), Kubernetes and containers. It is combined with RedHat (r) OpenShift (r) to create an integrated platform that connects on-premises and online resources.

Find out how IBM Cloud solutions could help your company with the following:

Modernize existing applications

Build and scale cloud native applications

Migrate existing on-premises workloads to the cloud

Speed software and services delivery with DevOps

Integrate applications and data across multiple clouds

Accelerate your journey to artificial intelligence

Leverage 5G and edge computing

To get started, sign up for an IBM ID and create your IBM Cloud account.

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