Cloud Computing Basics: Who, What, Why

While “the cloud” is a ubiquitous term in tech conversation these days, some may be left scratching their heads as to what it actually means. The term remains a bit amorphous, so it’s important for cloud providers like LightEdge to address the cloud computing basics from time to time. So what exactly is “cloud computing?”

At its core, cloud computing in the context of corporate IT is simply a different, virtualized way to handle data storage and deliver services over the internet compared to using your own physical, in-house IT resources, which include servers, power, switches, applications, and labor to manage it all. In this article, we’ll discuss the basic principles of cloud computing.

Cloud Computing Basics

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), there are five essential characteristics of cloud computing:

  • On-demand self-service
  • Broad network access
  • Resource pooling
  • Rapid elasticity or expansion
  • Measured service

NIST also lists three “service models” (platform, infrastructure and Software as a Service (SaaS) and four “deployment models” (private, community, public and hybrid) that together categorize ways to deliver cloud services. These characteristics and models serve as a means for broad comparisons of cloud services and deployment strategies, and to provide a baseline for discussion from what is cloud computing to how to best use cloud computing.

Another major component of cloud computing is what’s referred to as virtualization. Virtualization provides the foundation for cloud computing by allowing multiple virtual computers to share the resources of a single physical computer or storage device.

It enables your cloud provider to dynamically size its virtual computers according to the service delivery requirements, instead of trying to match physical hardware to service or application. In addition, the process of virtualization provides independence from the underlying hardware, so that hardware drivers (e.g., disk and network adapters) are standardized. The result is much more efficient use of physical resources and portability of virtual servers between hardware platforms.

Speaking of Cloud Benefits…

While one could argue for a much longer list of benefits afforded by cloud computing, we’ve condensed the list down to four key areas:

  • Flexibility: Having access to scalable compute and storage means you can expand capacity as needed and that network can be automatically updated and adapted to the changing needs of your user base.
  • Speedy Deployment: Experienced Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers that use advanced virtualization products can make resources available in a very short period of time.
  • Security: With its constantly evolving data protection landscape and system reliability, the cloud makes for a powerful “one-two” punch, particularly for IT with end-of-life (EOL) infrastructure or data stored on drives that are not always backed up.
  • Capital Preservation: Many organizations see a lot of value in moving into an OpEx cloud model so they can reinvest capital slated for hardware purchasing into other areas of the business, such as innovation or staff.  With cloud computing, you only pay for what you use and later buy additional capacity on demand without making a large outlay of capital expenditure (CAPEX). 

The Takeaway: From Clouds Come Smoother Sailing

Ultimately cloud computing is about enhancing and enabling a company’s business focus. By moving to a cloud model, you can save time and preserve capital, which then allows your team to focus its efforts on improving customer experience. 

By enhancing these core competencies, you’re able to propel your company forward no matter how choppy the economic waters may be. 

Click here to learn more about how LightEdge cloud services can help you meet your business needs.