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Dec 3

Understanding the Cloud – A Beginner’s Guide

In today’s ever-changing world, people are looking for ways to improve business operations and better secure user information. While there are multiple ways to go about this, one of the best solutions is to move your data to ‘the cloud.’

A commonly misunderstood term, ‘the cloud’ is just shorthand for ‘cloud computing,’ which is the act of using someone else’s computers via the Internet to store data and run programs. And while you may be asking yourself if the cloud is really all that useful, the truth is you use cloud computing systems almost every day.

From streaming TV shows to downloading music, backing up data to chatting on social media, the cloud is everywhere—or at least anywhere there’s an Internet connection.

What is the Cloud?

As its name implies, the cloud is not a physical thing or location. It is a large network of Internet-connected computers spread around the world. Whether being used for storage, networking, analytics, or to host services, the cloud enables individuals and corporations to instantly access all kinds of data on a secured network.

A simple example of cloud-stored data is your profile on social media. When you upload a picture, you transfer that data from your computer or cellphone to that site’s networked servers. Then, users from around the planet can click, comment, and interact with that picture you just uploaded.

Benefits of Using the Cloud

Cloud computing offers a huge shift from the traditional way businesses view IT resources. This has to do with the ‘everywhere’ nature of the cloud, which makes applications more flexible and accessible, creating faster speed, better security, increased performance and, of course, cheaper operating costs. Not that long ago, businesses required a lot of bulky and expensive hardware that had to be replaced every few years. But with the invention of the cloud, modern companies only have to worry about paying for current services, which creates the flexibility to change depending on shifts within any business model.

How Cloud Computing Works:

Front End

On the client’s computer, applications are used to access the cloud computing system. Different cloud computing systems have different user interfaces – some are easier to use than others, or more geared towards consumers versus IT professionals.

Back End

On the back end, there are various servers, computers, and data storage systems. These systems can include any program, from database management to movie streaming—and most of these applications have their own servers dedicated to that specific task. Careful consideration must be given towards selecting the most appropriate back end systems to optimize usability and the overall user experience.

Storage

Once cloud storage is initiated, user access is enabled, and data is downloaded onto various devices—including laptops, tablets, or smartphones. You can then edit, change, or add new data in collaborative workspaces or on secure private pages.

Pricing

As an individual user, you are usually offered initial amounts of cloud storage for free. Sometimes you are offered a few GBs of storage and then given the option to pay a fee for additional storage. Pricing may include monthly or annual rates, depending on the service.

Types of Cloud Computing

There are multiple models, types, and services that offer the right solution for your needs. These include private, public, and hybrid solutions. Depending on your organization’s need, certified clouds are available for hosting sensitive unclassified and classified information meeting Federal and International standards. Many cloud service providers can help you determine your best option; if you want to avoid high-pressure sales tactics, consider turning to a knowledgeable and accredited IT professional.

Private Cloud

Referring to cloud computing resources used exclusively by a single organization, private clouds are usually located on the company’s on-site datacenter and maintained on a private network.

Public Cloud

Public clouds are owned and managed by the cloud provider. This includes all software, hardware, and supporting infrastructure involved. The services are accessed and managed on an account via a web browser.

Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid clouds combine both private and public clouds, allowing data and user applications to be shared between them. This binding allows for flexibility, optimization of pre-existing infrastructure,security, and more deployment options.

Types of Cloud Services

Most cloud computing services fall into one of four categories: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), and Serverless. To accomplish your organization’s goals, you’ll need to know the difference between them.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

The most common and basic category of cloud computing services is Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). With this service, you rent IT infrastructure, including servers, virtual machines, storage, networks, and operating systems. These are hosted through a cloud provider, and the cost is determined by use.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a cloud computing service that supplies on-demand environments for developing, testing, delivering, and managing software applications. It is designed to make it easy for users to create applications without worrying about the infrastructure of different types of servers, storage, networks, and databases.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Software as a Service (SaaS) delivers software applications over the Internet. These services are typically offered as a subscription, allowing cloud providers to host and manage the software application and infrastructure. This includes maintenance for software upgrades and security patches.

Serverless computing

Serverless computing shifts the focus from the management of servers and infrastructure to building applications and functionality. The cloud provider handles the setup and server management for the user. The architecture is designed based on user needs, only using some resources when a specific function occurs.

Bottom Line

The cloud can be both confusing, and yet very simple. If you’d like to move your operation or application to the cloud and need help deciding what is best for you, let us help simplify your cloud decision!

Kenney Shipley, the Executive Director of the Florida Birth-related Neurological Injury Compensation Association (NICA), did just that:

NICA sought to replace its existing information system with a new system that could accommodate a much larger database with a far more complex and unique data set to support greatly expanded functionality. The proposed development effort required updating the security and functionality as required by NICA Policy, as well as, state and federal mandates.

To achieve this herculean task in a little more than 18 months, we agreed that an AWS cloud-based system would best meet our current and emerging needs well into the future. We reviewed bids and capabilities and selected the Kikoda team to develop and provide the expertise and long-term commitment as our partner.

The product we received is far beyond our expectations and keeps getting better. In fact, Kikoda using AWS has provided an efficient and cost-effective means for ongoing maintenance, timely enhancements, and increased security. This has relieved us from dealing with technical concerns, given us peace of mind, and allowed us to care for the families that rely on our expertise and care.

In short, we could not be more pleased.

At Kikoda, we are an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Select Consulting Partner, and we can work with you and your team to understand your needs and lay out your best options. Whether you’re interested in AWS, or one of the many other cloud service providers we work with—including Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, or Rackspace—contact us today to learn how we can help get you started with the cloud and further Empower your IT!