You may understand the application of the cloud, but do you actually understand how it works? Grasping the structure, logistics and infrastructure of the cloud can baffle even the savviest. Builders, let’s explore the cloud and get into specifics about how it actually does what it does for users and businesses.
The cloud is an infrastructure built on application-based software that serves as a shared pool of resources for end users that includes storage, networking, database and compute services. A front end provides data access to users via the internet and/or cloud computing software. On the backend, a central server, ancillary servers, computers and databases all work together to store data in a secure fashion. Cloud computing, in short, allows the user to outsource tasks that would typically bog down a device or an enterprise. Storage, computing and processing are all executed via a remote physical network accessed by an internet connection.
Deployment at scale
One much lauded advantage of cloud computing is, of course, its scalability. This is what distinguishes it from a standard data center. By leveraging high-speed internet access and significant advancements in virtualization, cloud computing is able to segment larger systems, streamline efficiency and deploy resources on an as-needed basis. On the backend, the central server facilitates this by adhering to set protocols and utilizing middleware that provides consistent connectivity between end user devices connected in the cloud. Redundancies are in place, too, mitigating any threat of data loss or breach.
The different service models of the cloud
Not all clouds are created equal, and businesses typically can leverage one of three service models in cloud computing. Software as a Service (SaaS) centralizes software so that multiple users across an enterprise can utilize it without managing installations and updates. The centralized nature of the software also makes collaboration across an enterprise much easier.Platform as a Service (PaaS) can be thought of as SaaS writ large. It provides a suite of services that work as a whole to address a pain point in business.
It can create an entire deployment environment for the building, testing and deployment of product and idea, with the goal of allowing the user to focus on production without getting bogged down in infrastructure.Finally, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provide a pre-built infrastructure to enterprises that they can then customize to their needs. Everything from security compliance to connectivity is built into the IaaS, allowing a business to deploy a bespoke software offering across an enterprise.
Public vs private vs hybrid
End users can also engage the cloud in three different ways via a public, private or hybrid approach. Public access happens through environments such as Google Cloud Platform and occurs through the public internet. Users do not have to manage any resources or infrastructure. Private cloud requires the user (read: enterprise, typically) to own an infrastructure and have employees on hand who can manage that infrastructure. Much like the data centers of old, a private cloud provides security and scope when it comes to data storage, but amplifies that with the scalability and collaborative features of public cloud.
Hybrid is a best of both worlds scenario in which a “bridge” facilitated by the public internet unifies public and private clouds. Businesses that rely on scalability can leverage the control of a private cloud as needed but access the added power of the public cloud when seasonality demands more performance.Cloud computing continues to evolve, especially in the space of AI. In the years to come, AI-driven cloud will enable integration of multiple devices and applications into the cloud, further simplifying user experience.
Do you have questions about the cloud, Builders? Let us know across social media via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Then take the time to start exploring Builder Studio to learn more about the power of AI-driven solutions.
Erica Grigg is our Global Lead of Digital at Builder.ai, where she's been on board since August 2018. Previously, Erica Co-founded a media startup, co-authored a book on Facebook and worked with numerous businesses and non-profits, including the World Wildlife Fund, the United Nations and Comcast. She's happy to share her lessons learned and best practices yet to be developed on the Builder Blog. Follow her on social media @EricaGrigg on Twitter and at linkedin.com/user/ericagrigg.