What is the cloud and how does it work?
- Last Updated: September 17, 2020
- 2.4K Views
- 3 minutes Min Read
The term 'cloud computing' has become increasingly popular in the business world. For some, the fact that the term 'cloud' can have nothing to do with the weather is a surprise. For others, the term may be familiar, but the concept is difficult to understand. What is the cloud? Where is it? How do you get there? Today, we'd like to help you get a good grasp on the basics of this idea. Cloud computing is here to stay, and it's becoming more essential for businesses than ever.
The cloud and cloud computing
Generally speaking, the 'cloud' is another term for the internet, or a software service that is accessible from any internet-capable device.
In 2020, most of the population interacts with or uses a cloud-based service, even without realising. Sitting down for a relaxing night of Netflix after a busy day? Netflix and other video streaming services rely on the cloud to grant customers access to files. On these services, none of the files you are watching are physically present on the device you are using. If you have ever ordered a video on demand at your home, you were using cloud technology.
Email has also been using cloud technology for years to allow a user to access all of their messages from any location. Similarly, social media allows people around the globe to access content, posts, photos, and messages that are not directly saved on your device.
Cloud computing simply refers to the delivery of these on-demand services or information resources. These services can range from servers, storage, databases, applications, and software, and they are usually provided on a pay-as-you-go basis. Companies or individuals can rent access to an application or storage system from a cloud service provider rather than own their own computing infrastructure or data centres.
Cloud services for your business
For many, using an internal server for storage, desktop applications, and hard drives was fine for day-to-day business operations. Maintenance issues with the server or hard drive may have been costly or they may have required the assistance of an external consultant, but it was manageable.
Then COVID-19 hit.
Organisations that had already transitioned to the cloud for the bulk of their business operations were able to easily transition to remote work. With cloud-based applications, data is stored on the internet rather than on a computer's hard drive. As a result, it can be accessed wherever employees have an internet connection. Cloud-based applications also ensure every employee has the most updated version of the software. Cloud technology also doesn't have the same obstacles as "on-premise" software such as updates on a Monday morning or a trip to the office just to access a single file or email.
Types of cloud computing
Cloud computing falls into a few different classifications, depending on the service being offered.
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
IaaS involves renting IT infrastructure such as servers, virtual machines, storage, networks, and operating systems, generally from a cloud provider on a pay-as-you-go basis. This is the most basic category of cloud computing services.
Platform as a service (PaaS)
PaaS refers to cloud computing services which supply an on-demand environment for testing, developing, delivering, and managing software applications. PaaS is designed for the quick development of web or mobile apps without the maintenance and management of infrastructure, such as those included in IaaS.
Software as a service (SaaS)
SaaS is the delivery of software applications over the internet, on demand and typically through a subscription model. Cloud providers host and manage the software application, as well as the underlying infrastructure. They handle maintenance, software upgrades, and security patching. SaaS is usually delivered to the user through the internet via phone, tablet, or PC.
Cloud computing has continued to expand over the years, mainly because of its capacity to allow businesses to do more, with less. The offerings available on the cloud are continuing to grow and, with many businesses looking to adopt a more permanent remote work solution, the cloud has never been more popular.
Here at Zoho, we provide SaaS solutions to our customers for all their business operations. We have products that range from sales and marketing automation to file management and accounting. We believe that cloud technology is going to expand and become the norm for businesses all around the world. If you'd like to check out the options we have available, feel free to take a look at all of the products we offer.
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