We've all read headlines about the importance of cloud computing. We've also seen a lot of reports about how an increasing number of companies are flocking to the cloud. But how does cloud computing actually work? What advantages does it offer? Does it have any disadvantages?
Read our guide to learn more about cloud computing. We'll cover the types of cloud computing, whether cloud computing is secure, and cloud computing trends in 2022. Along the way, we'll cover the benefits and disadvantages of cloud computing.
How Does Cloud Computing Work and Why Is It Important?
Before we dive into the advantages and disadvantages of cloud computing, you need to know what cloud computing is and how it works.
Cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of information technology (IT) resources over the internet. Instead of purchasing, owning, and managing physical data servers and centers, you can access storage, files, software, servers, and databases from cloud providers like VMware, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google Cloud.
Put simply, cloud computing gives you the ability to store and access programs and data over the internet instead of on a hard drive. It's a great way to scale up and become more competitive in your industry.
Types of Cloud Computing
There are several types of cloud computing, including Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Platform as a Service (PaaS) provides web and app developers with a user-friendly platform to create and deploy their own web apps, software, and other programming projects. Many startups use PaaS to create proprietary programs and apps without the need for special testing environments and servers.
Many companies have shifted to PaaS because PaaS vendors manage servers, storage, and more, giving developers more time to focus on building and deploying cutting-edge apps. In contrast, traditional IT infrastructure requires companies and developers to buy and manage everything by themselves.
Here's a breakdown of the differences between traditional IT infrastructure compares to PaaS:
Some of the most popular PaaS platforms include:
- Salesforce Platform: The leader in enterprise PaaS, Salesforce Platform has been in the PaaS market for over 10 years. It offers powerful, low-code tools for building and shipping workflows and apps.
- AWS Electric Beanstalk: Amazon Web Service (AWS)'s native platform for deploying web apps, AWS Elastic Beanstalk automatically handles load balancing, scaling, and capacity provisioning. It supports PHP, Python, Docker, .NET, Java, and Go.
- Google App Engine: Google Cloud's answer to PaaS, Google App Engine enables startups to create their own apps on top of a serverless platform. It is fully managed and supports C#, PHP, Go, Python, and Node.js. It allows developers to bring their own language, and they can use any framework or library through containerization.
- Engine Yard: A fully-managed DevOps platform for simplifying AWS, Engine Yard only requires devs to write and push code to the remote repository. Engine Yard handles all of the tedious tasks, such as containerization, running the app on Kubernetes, and patch management.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Software as a Service (SaaS) allows users to access software apps without having to install or store software on their hard drives. Most providers provide SaaS via pay-as-you-go or subscription models.
Like other types of cloud computing, SaaS offers significant advantages over traditional software. Here's how SaaS compares to traditional software:
Examples of SaaS include:
- Salesforce: Salesforce also offers SaaS. It offers Marketing Cloud, Sales Cloud, and Service Cloud. Many companies have adopted Salesforce's SaaS solutions to:
- Identify and attract the right leads
- Nurture those leads
- Gather information that the sales team will use to close sales
- Build personalized funnels to see the big picture
- Track and funnel inquiries from all support channels into a centralized hub
- Create comprehensive reports
- Track all customer interactions and information in one place
- Automate tasks so that marketing can spend more time on important tasks
- BigCommerce: Designed for small and mid-sized eCommerce businesses, BigCommerce has more built-in features than other leading platforms. Many big-name stores use BigCommerce, including Skullcandy, Ben & Jerry's, and Tyler's. Research by Ipsos has shown that BigCommerce merchants grow 28% each year, which is nearly twice the industry average.
- Mailchimp: A cloud-based marketing automation and email newsletter platform, Mailchimp is one of the most successful SaaS providers in its industry. Users don't have to download any software — they just have to use a browser-based UI to access Mailchimp's marketing tools.
- DocuSign: DocuSign's Agreement Cloud provides everything businesses need to create, sign, and execute essential agreements, including:
- A suite of apps for document generation, electronic signature, clickwrap agreements, and contract lifecycle management
- Over 400 robust integrations, including integrations with Google, Slack, and Microsoft
- Award-winning application program interfaces (APIs)
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
Finally, there's Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). This cloud computing service provides access to networking features, compute resources, data storage space, and virtual computers. Most vendors provide IaaS services through a pay-as-you-go model, which means you can buy what you need when you need it.
IaaS lets you bypass the complexity and cost of buying and managing physical computers and servers. Instead, each resource is offered as a separate component, so you only need to pay for a certain resource as long as you need it.
The hottest IaaS providers include:
- Google Compute Engine (GCE): GCE is a secure and customizable service that lets you build and run virtual machines (VM). It provides many powerful VM tools, such as:
- Spot machines, which can reduce computing costs by up to 91%
- Rightsizing recommendations, which can optimize resource utilization via automatic recommendations
- Custom machine types, which allow companies to create cost-effective VMs with optimal amounts of memory and vCPU
- Microsoft Azure: One of the most popular IaaS services, Microsoft Azure provides a comprehensive cloud infrastructure that delivers flexibility and choice, boosts performance and scalability, and helps ensure business continuity and uptime. It also boasts powerful cybersecurity tools, such Azure Firewall, Azure Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection, and Azure Front Door.
- DigitalOcean: Highly flexible and scalable, DigitalOcean is another popular IaaS vendor. Like other IaaS vendors, DigitalOcean also offers PaaS for building web apps and APIs.
- AWS EC2: AWS EC2 provides the deepest and broadest compute platform, with over 500 choices and instances of the latest operating system, networking, and purchase models. This platform also stands out for being the first major cloud provider that supports Arm, Intel, and Amd processors. It's also the only cloud with 400 Gbps Ethernet networking and on-demand EC2 Mac instances.
Is Cloud Computing Secure?
It's natural to wonder if your data is safe when it's stored in the cloud. After all, your photos, videos, and client information are being stored on servers that aren't under your control. Wouldn't it be safer to store all of this information on your hard drive?
On the contrary, cloud computing is usually more secure than on-premise computing. Cloud vendors have more resources for keeping data safe from malicious third parties. They can keep cloud infrastructure up to date and patch vulnerabilities as soon as they appear. You may not have the time, resources, or energy to perform these tasks regularly.
Cloud vendors also include the following cutting-edge technologies in their cloud security strategies:
- Identity and access management (IAM): IAM tracks users' identities and what they're allowed to do. Cloud administrators use IAMs to deny access to unauthorized users as needed.
- Cloud firewalls: These firewalls block malicious third parties from accessing cloud assets. They can also block DDoS attacks and vulnerability exploits.
- Encryption: This involves scrambling data so that only authorized parties can read the information. If a malicious actor hacks into a company cloud, they won't be able to do anything with the encrypted data unless they discover the decryption key. Fortunately, this is close to impossible.
- Consistent security updates: Think about the last time you ignored a notification to update your operating system or email service. Chances are, you probably ignored quite a few of them. In contrast, cloud providers are always on top of security updates. This means their security systems are always in peak shape.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) auto-patching: Cloud providers also use leading-edge AI to protect your data. These programs use algorithms to identify possible vulnerabilities in the cloud system.
- Redundancy: Nearly all of the biggest cloud providers practice redundancy. This involves copying your data several times and storing them in multiple data centers. As such, you won't have to fear losing your data. If one server goes down, you can access your data from another server.
- Third-party security testing: The best cloud providers regularly hire third-party security companies to test their software and servers to ensure that they're safe from malware, viruses, and cybercriminals.
C.C. Trends in 2022
By adopting cloud technology, you're moving your company forward and future-proofing it. But, shifting to the cloud won't automatically result in success. To make the most out of your shift to the cloud, you need to be caught up with the latest cloud computing trends.
Here are the top cloud computing trends of 2022:
According to Verified Market Research, the AI software market was worth 53.6 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach a staggering 850.6 billion by 2028. As AI becomes more commonplace, consumers will expect new cloud software and infrastructure to incorporate AI.
Leading-edge cloud providers like AWS are already offering pre-trained AI services for company workflows and applications. AWS uses the same machine learning technology that powers Amazon.com, so companies using AWS can expect the best results. What's more, all AWS AI models come pre-trained, so companies don't need machine learning experience to use them.
Cloud computing AI models vary from company to company. However, most can:
- Analyze videos and images: Cloud computing AI models can analyze videos and images to catalog assets, extract meaning from media, and automate workflows.
- Spot defects and automate inspection: AI models can also spot structural damage, missing product parts, and irregularities for quality assurance.
- Extract data and text: AI models can also pull valuable data from millions of documents simultaneously. You can use this data for data analysis and other marketing applications.
- Maximize the value of unstructured text: Some AI models can also simplify document processing by extracting key text, sentiment, topics, and more.
- Build chatbots: You can also use AI models to create automated virtual agents and chatbots to improve customer service. That way, you won't have to spend as much time and money hiring and training human chat agents.
- Personalize online experiences: Use these AI models to customize website banners, images, and applications for different groups of users.
Multicloud and Hybrid
Traditionally, cloud vendors let you choose between private and public solutions. Private cloud systems offered more security for data, while public clouds gave you more accessible services.
A few years ago, cloud providers started offering hybrid cloud solutions. These solutions let you store some data on public servers while giving you the ability to keep sensitive data on private servers. Many vendors also started offering multi-cloud solutions, which allow you to use solutions from different platforms. For instance, you can link Microsoft Azure and AWS systems to get the best of both.
Multicloud and hybrid approaches are now the de facto standard among companies. According to Flexera, 89% of organizations reported having a multi-cloud strategy and 80% have a hybrid approach that combines both public and private clouds.
Serverless Cloud Technology
Businesses are implementing serverless cloud technology at a breakneck pace. According to Mordor Intelligence, the demand for serverless technologies will grow 22.6% between 2021 and 2026.
As its name suggests, serverless cloud technology runs without servers. They feature automatic built-in availability, automatic scaling, and a pay-as-you-go model for optimizing costs and increasing agility. Serverless cloud technologies also eliminate tedious infrastructure management tasks like patching and capacity provisioning, giving your devs more time to develop better apps.
Blockchain and Kubernetes
Blockchain is a digital ledger that can record data without a central authority. On the other hand, Kubernetes is an open-source system for automating and scaling apps that can rapidly scale a blockchain environment. Kubernetes also ensures high availability with multiple containers running for a single service.
Because blockchain and Kubernetes are such a great fit, an increasing number of companies will use blockchain and Kubernetes in their cloud systems. Deploying blockchains through Kubernetes clusters may become standard as teams seek to integrate blockchain with existing systems.
Improved Cloud Security
Since COVID-19, cyberattacks have skyrocketed. Research by Check Point has revealed that there was an all-time peak in Q4 of 2021 in weekly cyber-attacks per organization with an average of over 900 attacks per organization. There was also a 50% increase in attacks per week on corporate networks compared to 2020.
As a result, cloud computing companies will place more emphasis on cloud security. In particular, there will be an increased demand for:
- Cloud-based disaster recovery (DR): Cloud DR empowers companies to back up data and set up a backup IT environment for the primary infrastructure.
- Secure Access Service Edge (SASE): This lets users reliably control and manage access between on-premise IT, cloud apps, and end-user devices.
Developments in Cloud Gaming
Cloud computing isn't just for business — it can also be used for gaming, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR). Cloud computing allows gamers to run games on remote servers without downloading anything onto their computers. Other benefits of cloud gaming include:
- A lag-free experience
- The ability to run games on multiple devices
- Improved security
What Are the Cloud Computing Advantages and Benefits for Business?
Now that you know what cloud computing is and why it's important, let's take a look at the advantages and benefits of cloud computing.
As mentioned above, cloud computing is actually more secure than on-premise computing. Cloud vendors have much more time, resources, and energy to address security concerns efficiently and effectively. Remember, a cloud provider's full-time job is to carefully monitor cloud environments for suspicious activity. As such, it will do a much better job at protecting confidential data from unauthorized third parties. Its reputation is on the line, too — cloud vendors don't want to be named and shamed for being lax on cybersecurity threats.
If you're concerned about the cost of implementing cloud computing, you're not alone. Many organizations hesitate to shift to the cloud because of these costs.
But companies looking to shift to the cloud should consider more than just the initial price — they should also consider their Return on Investment (ROI). Once you've shifted to the cloud, you'll be able to cut a lot of costs. For example, easy access to company data can save money and time in project startups. Other cost-saving benefits of cloud services include:
- No upfront software or hardware purchases
- No separate data center costs, since cloud services allow you to access data centers and resources around the world
- Reduced operational costs and maintenance expenses
- Reduced spending on security, storage, and networking since everything's on the cloud
- Reduction in IT personnel, since you don't need that many IT personnel to run cloud infrastructure
As more companies shift to the cloud, those who prefer to keep their servers local will be left behind. In contrast, companies that implement a cloud-based solution before their competitors are more likely to lead the industry. Cloud providers provide access to many cutting-edge tools that on-premise companies lack, such as pre-trained AI models and analytics dashboards.
Cloud computing is also flexible. Users can scale services to fit their needs, access cloud services from anywhere, and customize applications.
For example, if you need more bandwidth, just tell your cloud provider and they'll instantly be on your case. You don't need to manually update your infrastructure. Similarly, you don't need to create or train any AI models yourself. You can just use your provider's pre-built and pre-trained AI models to create chatbots, analyze customer data, and more.
Cloud computing makes collaboration simpler than ever. Teams can share and view information easily and securely through computers, smartphones, and tablets. Some cloud platforms also provide collaborative social spaces to drive employee engagement and interest. Think Slack but with more features.
Without a cloud computing solution, all of your data is tied to the physical computers they reside in. If your local hardware experiences a problem or gets destroyed, you might end up losing your data.
However, with a cloud computing platform, all of the data you've uploaded to the cloud will remain safe and accessible from any device with an internet connection, even if your on-premise workstations have been destroyed. As covered above, the vast majority of cloud providers will store your data in multiple data centers. If one data center goes down, you can always recover your data from another.
Automatic Software Updates
Unlike on-premise infrastructure, which requires an IT team to perform a company-wide update, cloud computing applications automatically update and refresh themselves. This allows you to save a lot of IT costs.
What Are the Disadvantages and Risks of Cloud Computing?
As you can see, shifting to the cloud provides many advantages, such as increased collaboration and cost-effectiveness. However, there are some drawbacks, including:
Like traditional IT infrastructure, the cloud can experience technical issues such as downtime, reboots, and network outages. These events can paralyze business operations and make it hard for you to meet deadlines on time. Case in point: an AWS outage in 2017 cost publicly traded companies up to $150 million dollars.
While downtime can't entirely be avoided, you can follow these best practices to minimize planned downtime in cloud environments:
- Design services with disaster recovery and availability in mind. Use your platform's multi-availability zones to your advantage.
- Create and implement a disaster recovery plan that provides the lowest recovery point objectives (RPO) and recovery time (RTO).
- Consider implementing dedicated connectivity such as Google Cloud's Dedicated Interconnect or AWS Direct Connect. These tools provide a dedicated network connection between you and your cloud service point of presence and can reduce the risk of business interruption from the public internet.
Fluctuating Quality of Cloud Security
Most leading cloud providers implement ironclad security standards and industry certifications to protect their cloud environments. However, the quality of data protection varies from provider to provider. Some providers aren't as careful as they should be with your data, which can lead to data loss or theft, account hijacking, DDoS attacks, and technology vulnerabilities.
Accordingly, it's important to choose the right cloud provider. Look at what certifications they have and what kind of encryption they use. For example, Microsoft Azure uses 246-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption, one of the strongest block ciphers in existence.
Vendor lock-in is another disadvantage of cloud computing. Although many clouds offer multi-cloud functionality, it's still difficult to migrate services from one cloud to another. Differences between vendor platforms can create difficulties when moving from one platform to another. Compromises and gaps made during migration can also expose data to additional security and privacy vulnerabilities.
Here are some ways to get around vendor-lock in:
- Create applications with services that provide cloud-first advantages, such as portability of microservices and modularity.
- Understand your cloud platform's limitations to avoid lock-in challenges beforehand.
- Adopt multi-cloud strategies to avoid lock-in.
- Bake portability into applications.
Finally, you have limited control over the cloud infrastructure. As a customer, you can only manage the data, applications, and services on the cloud, but you won't be able to access vital administrative tasks, such as accessing the server shell and managing firmware.
Additionally, a cloud vendor's end-user license agreement (EULA) and other policies may put limits on what you can do with your deployments. Generally speaking, you retain control of data, applications, and services, but you may not have the same level of control over their backend infrastructure.
Shift to the Cloud With Revelo
Moving to the cloud provides many advantages, such as increased security, flexibility, and competitiveness. However, shifting to the cloud is easier said than done, especially if you're new to cloud computing.
Luckily, Revelo's here to help. We match Latin America's premier tech talent with startups around the world. Our cloud engineers, architects, and other experts can facilitate your move to the cloud. All of our experts have been thoroughly pre-vetted for their expertise, experience, and English proficiency.
Contact us today to start moving to the cloud.