What Is the Cloud? Types of Cloud Services

When someone says their data is in the cloud, what does that mean? We have all heard of the cloud, but what is the cloud exactly? In this article, we are going to define what the cloud is and the different types of cloud services organizations can choose from when moving their systems to the cloud. So, let’s get started!

What is The Cloud?

Ah, “What is the Cloud?” A question that many individuals may wonder about but are often too afraid to ask. I mean, the term has become so commonplace in tech talk that it can feel hard to admit you’re not quite sure what it means. But, we’re here to help- so settle in while we go through what the cloud is and how it works. 

In simple terms, in the cloud, servers are placed offsite and organizations use them to store and manage their data using the internet. Some of the major benefits of moving to the cloud include improved flexibility, scalability, and security, along with decreased costs.

When someone says their data or systems are in the cloud, they mean that their information isn’t stored locally on their computer or server. Instead, it’s stored on a network of servers off-premise that they access using the internet. 

You probably already use the cloud in your personal life to store photos, videos, or documents. This use of the cloud is referred to as cloud storage. 

You might have also heard of “cloud computing.” Cloud computing goes beyond just storage. Cloud computing includes servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence. If you have ever used Office 365 or Google Docs, you have used cloud computing. 

Whether for storage or computing, there are a few different types of clouds that individuals and organizations use. These types of clouds include public, private, and hybrid clouds. There are also various cloud services, such as IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.

We’re going to go through all of these different types of clouds, so keep reading!

Types of Clouds: Public, Private, and Hybrid

Public Cloud

A public cloud is the most common type of cloud. It’s also where most people’s minds go to when they think of cloud technology. In a public cloud, your data is stored across remote servers that are hooked together to function as one, all-encompassing network. These servers are not owned by you but rather by a third-party provider.

When you use a public cloud, think of it as renting space on someone else’s server. The “who” that you are renting from are cloud service providers. Some major cloud service providers are Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. These companies own and manage all the hardware, software, and infrastructure required for running the cloud. 

The key differentiator with a public cloud is that anyone can use it. All you have to do is sign up with a cloud service provider, and you will have access to the cloud. This means that your data uses the same resources as every other customer of that cloud provider. 

Private Cloud

A private cloud, on the other hand, is reserved for a single organization or business. There aren’t any shared resources with a private cloud. All hardware and software is dedicated to the owner of the cloud. 

You can create a private cloud using owned resources, such as a data center, or you can also use a third-party provider. If you choose a third-party provider, specific hardware and software are dedicated solely to your organization.

Some organizations choose a private cloud over a public cloud for improved flexibility and security. With a private cloud, a business can customize the cloud to meet its specific needs. It also allows for more control when it comes to security because resources are not shared.

Hybrid Cloud

A hybrid cloud is a combination of public clouds, private clouds, and on-premise infrastructure. A business using a hybrid cloud model often uses a public cloud for basic computing tasks, while storing more sensitive data on a private cloud or an on-site server. For many companies, a hybrid cloud model is the best of both worlds. 

Businesses can maintain control over the entirety of their data while still leveraging the power and scalability of the cloud. 

Types of Cloud Services: IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS

iaas vs paas vs saas comparison chart

If you have done any basic research into the cloud, you might have stumbled across these weird acronyms like IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. If your reaction is anything like most, you probably were confused for a bit and then moved on. At least, that’s what I did. 

Well, it turns out these different terms are actually quite important when it comes to understanding the different types of cloud services. So, let’s learn what these are together.  

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Infrastructure as a service, known as IaaS, is a cloud service that provides customers and instant computing infrastructure through the use of the internet. Using IaaS, a third-party provides and manages the infrastructure, but you can purchase, install, configure, and manage your own software. This includes operating systems, middleware, and applications. 

Instead of purchasing hardware, you purchase the resources you need on-demand, often using a pay-as-you-go model. This type of service is the most flexible, as you are in charge of everything besides the infrastructure. You’ll have complete control over your system, leveraging the same technologies and capabilities as a traditional data center, but without having to maintain the hardware. 

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Platform as a service (PaaS) is the next type of cloud computing service we’re talking about. With PaaS, customers use cloud components to develop and deploy software applications. Just like IaaS, a third-party manages your networking, storage, servers, and virtualization- meaning you don’t have to worry about it. However, unlike IaaS, your provider will also manage the operating system, middleware, and runtime in a PaaS model. 

PaaS is a great service model for users who need to create cloud-based, customized applications quickly. It supports building, testing, deploying, managing, and updating web and mobile apps, without having to worry about setting up or maintaining the underlying infrastructure. 

Software as a Service (SaaS)

SaaS, or software as a service, is the least flexible and customizable cloud service but also boasts the least amount of necessary management and maintenance. It delivers software applications to users over the internet, typically on a subscription model basis. SaaS is the most utilized option for businesses in the cloud market, with common services including G Suite and Office 365

With SaaS, a third-party provider will manage everyone from your networking, storage, and servers, to your applications, data, and middleware. This makes it extremely convenient for users but also hard to specify to your organization. 

Closing the Case

Now you can confidently answer anyone who asks you, “What is the cloud?” If you want to learn even more about cloud computing and cloud migrations, download our free eBook. In The Complete Cloud Migration Guide, you will find valuable information that will take your cloud knowledge to the next level. Then you can decide for yourself if a cloud migration is right for your organization.

To learn more about cloud computing & backup, check out our Ultimate Guide To Cloud Computing!

The Ultimate Guide To Cloud Computing

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