Cloud Computing – An Ultimate Guide for Businesses

Sudeep Srivastava September 12, 2022
Cloud Computing - An Ultimate Guide for Businesses

The global cloud computing marketplace is expected to reach US $1251.09 billion by 2028. Having emerged somewhere around the turn of the 21st century, the cloud computing marketplace has formalized into unique service and deployment models helping millions of businesses (and customers) inadvertently. 

Were it not for cloud computing technology, we might still be bereft of the many conveniences we take for granted. Cloud computing solutions have helped businesses off-load the bulk of IT resource management to off-shore vendors, bringing down the cost of doing business and increasing ROIs. Therefore, the question for entrepreneurs and interested prospects isn’t whether to avail cloud solutions or not, but how to? 

If such is your dilemma, then this guide will shed much-needed light on the efficacies of cloud computing for business solutions, both big and small.

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing refers to the outsourcing of IT resource management by an organization to third-party vendors. Clients pay on the go for the computing resources they avail and are billed on a pro-rata basis. 

What is Cloud Computing

Generally, the types of resources that are delivered on-demand include data storage systems and computational power. Subscribers become direct beneficiaries of IT resources that they avail through the internet and are spared the expenses for setting up the infrastructure in-house. 

Not all demand curves are predictable. Therefore, an investment towards cloud computing solutions cuts through maintenance costs of organizations and empowers them to scale operations as per business requirements. Be it startups, legacy businesses, or digital-at-scale companies, cloud computing applications allow all to get products up and running faster and better.

Types of Cloud Computing Services

Now that we have covered what is cloud computing, let us explore the various types of cloud computing models that are available for interested prospects. There are majorly three types of cloud services to choose from. These cloud computing models are explained below:

Cloud service model

  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

SaaS operators extend access rights to subscribers for using software and databases over the internet. In other words, instead of installing and running the software applications on self-owned equipment, users can access the same through cloud providers. Therefore, software-as-a-service is often pointed to as an on-demand software solution. 

Subscription models vary from monthly plans to charging users a lump sum yearly fee per account. The fluctuating demand for IT resources is managed by vendors by cloning tasks onto multiple virtual machines. In order to maximize the subscription base, cloud vendors often use multi-tenancy frameworks i.e. one machine runs applications for multiple organizational users. The popularity of SaaS platforms has increased in that business owners are now migrating their entire SaaS operations onto mobile apps

  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) 

PaaS model is conceptualized to offer developers an integrated, end-to-end platform for developing applications. Such cloud computing applications mitigate the development cost for especially bootstrapping companies who can then afford ambitious business goals. 

To elaborate further, PaaS vendors offer development toolkits, and also define the protocols for development. Subscribers gain access to computing platforms that include OS, programming language execution environment, databases, and web servers. When the demand peaks, users can opt-in to scale their resource bandwidth, instead of purchasing and setting up the hardware/software layers manually. 

  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

IaaS is one of the most basic types of cloud services. It refers to using IT infrastructure such as virtual private machines, storage systems, and operating systems on a pay-as-you-go basis. 

The services are delivered through virtualized machines over the internet. Since providing standalone infrastructure won’t suffice, therefore vendors also offer moderation, log access, security layers, load balancing, clustering, and storage resiliency such as data backup, duplication, and recovery mechanisms. Check out the key differences between IaaS and PaaS.

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How can Cloud Computing Benefit Your Business?

As per the Denodo Global Cloud IT Survey (2021), there has been a rise in global IT businesses, upto 19.59% from 15.48% in 2020, who are inclined to move advanced workloads on cloud settings. All this is precisely due to the advantages of the cloud. 

advantages of the cloud

Here are a few benefits that your business stands to realize in switching to cloud computing technology:

Flexibility

One of the greatest benefits of cloud computing is that it has unhooked IT departments from the need to invest heavily in equipment. Virtual servers open the doors for cloud subscribers to remotely access applications from anywhere around the world. 

Operational Fluidity 

Noticeable cloud computing advantages for businesses include minimizing downtime and maximizing productivity. 

Adopting cloud computing for business operations negates building data silos in-house. As the servers mirror data across multiple layers, data backup and recovery become easier. 

24/7 Connectivity 

Third-party vendors use cloud computing solutions to establish access rights for files across cross-border users. Unhindered connectivity allows businesses to advance departmental functions seamlessly. The same cannot be said of traditional IT resource management. 

Limitless Storage 

Growth demands massive throughput towards self-owned IT equipment. Or does it! Over the years, c-suite decision-makers have realized that stacking in-house data warehouses is like pumping funds down the drain. Instead, paying for the exact bandwidth that has been consumed (in times of peak demand) keeps money in the bank for cash-strapped enterprises. 

Low Carbon Footprint

Multi-tenancy models are having a positive impact on lowering carbon emissions. Case in point – a study found that Microsoft cloud-based units mitigated carbon emissions by 90% for small operations (per 100 users), 60%-90% for medium-sized operations (per 1000 users), and 30% – 60% for large-scale operations (per 10,000 users).

Is Cloud Hosting Better than Traditional Web Hosting?

Traditional web hosting is mainly of two types, dedicated and shared. In dedicated hosting clients pay upfront for one or more servers from the service provider. There are caps to digital utilities such as bandwidth, CPU, and RAM. 

Shared hostings are more profound amongst small and medium enterprises. This model allocates a single server to multiple clients, hence the name shared. Since multiple websites populate a single server, the scope of scaling is minimized at the time of rising website traffic. Worse, if the server experiences downtime, it will affect all the business assets hosted on its digi-scape. 

The benefits of cloud computing supersede these limitations. Cloud vendors host websites on virtual servers. Workloads are equitably distributed across multiple clusters with data mirroring mechanisms running in the background. In the event of a server going down, secondary servers maintain functional stability and business continuity. 

Such elastic and downtime resilient cloud computing advantages make this technology head and shoulders above traditional hostings.

cloud computing advantages

How Much does Cloud Computing Cost?

This is a rather tough question to answer. You should perform an audit of your current IT infrastructure which should help you identify computational necessities in terms of a cloud environment. In fact, you can bifurcate the same into direct and indirect costs. Direct costs cover license fees, bandwidth allocation, cost of equipment, server capacity, and the likes. In the same vein, indirect costs include workforce management, workspace rent, and hardware maintenance among others. 

Another top-of-the-line priority would be the intricacies involved in migrating your data onto the cloud. This would vary depending upon whether you’ve been reliant on legacy systems or not. Subsequently, the volume of data would dictate the architectural style and blueprint of your cloud. Factoring in such parameters should allow you to estimate the borderline expenditure.

While we’ve summarized the journey for a better understanding, the cost varies as per the requirements of each business. However, if you’re looking to get a ballpark figure then it costs approximately USD 400 per month for one cloud server. This could go upto USD 15,000 to avail the entire back-office infrastructure as a service.

[Also Read: How to build online cloud kitchen platform like Kitopi?]

What Type of Data Storage Mechanisms do Cloud Vendors Offer?

The uses of cloud computing for business are endless. A crucial step before signing the SLA with a cloud vendor is to understand the deployment model that best suits your needs. There are three kinds of data storage models that vendors offer: 

Cloud deployment models

Private Cloud 

A private cloud is an end-to-end apparatus that is either solely owned and operated by the organization or managed by a third-party vendor. Naturally, if you are to manage every step of the logistical workflow, then that requires periodic investment upgrades. 

Not to mention, that self-operated data warehouses leave a massive physical footprint and require specialized manpower. As a result, private cloud undertakings turn out to be capital intensive. 

[Also Read: Cloud data warehousing: Critical drivers and cost components]

Public Cloud 

Such services are offered over the public internet wherein multiple companies opt for shared use of applications. An off-shore vendor manages the cloud infrastructure and rents out the same to multiple users. It needs to be said that due to increased subscription rates, the notion is that security risks attached to this model are relatively greater than private settings.  

Hybrid Cloud  

This is an intermix of both public and private clouds. Organizations subscribing to the same create private infrastructure for mission-critical data (such as customer info.) and let third-party vendors take up the management of tertiary interests off-shore.

Also read how cloud computing helps telecom companies to grow and sustain.

What are the Limitations of Cloud Computing?

A fact that should be clear after going through the aforementioned types of cloud computing examples is that like all technologies, the cloud ain’t picture perfect. And although not gaping, yet visible cracks appear to keep newbie cloud enthusiasts on the fence when it comes to adoption. Some of these reasons are listed below: 

Limited Customization

Cloud computing is renowned for providing economies of scale, but that is because it is founded on repurposable templates. Demand and supply go hand in hand. Cloud computing emerged after having unearthed universal mutual needs on the part of digital businesses. Since more people want more of the same thing, its price point has dropped to a threshold that is relatively affordable. But it is exactly due to this that there isn’t that big a scope for cloud customizations for users. After all, you have to rely completely on the capabilities of the vendor. 

Moderation Policies

The moderation policies are under the sole control of the cloud provider as the infrastructure is created by a private business. With a lack of clear regulatory understanding, subscribers have their work cut out in terms of agreeing to the terms and conditions of the SLA. For instance, there might be concerns associated with data privacy and confidentiality arising purely due to the technological bounds of the vendor. 

Partial Control 

Users do not have full control of their applications over a cloud. There is a certain level of involvement that shall persist from platform vendors.

How Secure is the Cloud?

Security has been the primary concern for organizations that plan to get cloud services. While it can be daunting to entrust an external vendor with data security responsibility, the truth is that the security offered by cloud service providers is now overtaking the on-premise security solutions. Moreover, the data security in the cloud can be maintained seamlessly by following some best practices mentioned below.

Regulatory Compliance

You and your cloud service provider should have in-depth understanding of all the regulatory compliance standards applicable to your industry. Besides, an active monitoring of all the connected systems and cloud services should be set up to maintain visibility of data exchanges between public, private, and hybrid cloud environments. 

Data Encryption

The cloud service provider should ensure that your data is encrypted at all times – while at rest, in transit, and in use.

Collaboration

There should be proper collaboration and communication between IT, operations, security teams to enable secure and sustainable cloud integrations. 

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Use Cases of Cloud Computing

In an earlier section, we went through the uses of cloud computing at length. These applications have given rise to the following uses cases: 

uses of cloud computing

Serverless Computing

Popular platforms like AWS, GCP, and Azure typify serverless computing. A serverless style of functioning is such wherein users do not have to worry about setting up anything. Things like software updates, scalability, and bandwidth allocation are managed by the vendors. It follows a pay-as-you-go model. 

AI-as-a-Service (AIaaS)

Earlier, Artificial Intelligence (AI) was thought to be a category accessible only to cash-rich businesses. With a crunch in the talent pool for specialized talent, the cost to build and operate big data silos was out of reach for the majority of the IT sector. Not to mention the exorbitant cost to hire manpower and get things done. 

All that is now subsiding with the foothold that cloud computing has created for itself. The cloud enables exponential volumes of data to be stored on virtualized servers and extends access to it for companies. Automated data analysis is opening the doors for AIaaS to be mainstreamed. 

Fault-Tolerant Systems 

There is definitely an upside in switching to the cloud. Netflix is a good case in point. In 2008, the streaming giant went through database corruption due to which its DVD shipments took a hit. Learning from the experience, Netflix switched to cloud servers that duplicate data through multiple clusters. This ensured that even if one server suffers a malfunction, the remainder continues to work and provide backup. 

Scalable Applications 

One reason why entrepreneurs are considering cloud computing for business is that it has created a level plain field for both SMEs and large-scale corporations. High-performance applications can be built, hosted, and scaled on the cloud, reducing the turnaround time for bootstrapping startups and helping them gain the first-mover advantage over competitors.

[Also Read: How can cloud business intelligence help your business grow?]

How Appinventiv Helped its Clients with Cloud Computing Solutions?

Cloud Computing Solutions

The world’s largest furniture retailer, IKEA was facing challenges in gathering customer information for marketing purposes. The brand was also facing challenges with customer onboarding as assigning a sales representative to every customer was getting difficult considering the heavy footfall.

Appinventiv built an ERP platform for IKEA on the cloud that not only gave customers the real-time status of products’ availability but also collected their information to then use as marketing assets. 

Our efforts led to the creation of a cloud-based solution that is today getting adopted at over 7 more IKEA stores. The solution is also touted by the brand as one of the biggest sources of ROI measurement. 

cloud-based IoT application

For another client, Bluemint Labs, Appinventiv developed a cloud-based IoT application, ActiDrive that allows drivers to be in touch with their mobile device’s functionalities with gesture movements without letting their eyes leave the road. 

Other than providing the security while driving, the app also worked as a tracker that recorded user trips and routes taken to reach different destinations.   

The result? Over 50K app downloads in a few months!

What is the Future of Cloud Computing?

From what has been covered so far, you should be able to picture how the industry looks like in the present. But knowing that isn’t enough. Experts hail cloud computing as the foundation on which new-age technologies such as 5G and IoT will be cemented. Therefore, it is in the best interest of all who’re considering moving to cloud computing, to explore the most dominant shape shifts impacting this industry: 

Edge Computing 

This is one subdomain of this sector that is amuck with the most buzz. Edge computing refers to processing data locally, as close as possible to the source of the network. Since data does not travel over the network to a distant location, processing real-time information becomes easier. Considering the explosion of devices that are getting interconnected today with IoT, edge computing is expected to be a mainstay in the ICT industry. As per research by Gartner, about 5.6 billion devices were leveraging edge computing in 2020. 

cloud and edge computing

DevSecOps 

There are many risks involved in cloud computing. These include man-in-the-middle attacks, denial of service attacks, and side channel attacks among other things. Data (in)security is a chief concern of users while hosting their assets on the cloud. To plaster the cracks appearing in user sentiment, cloud evangelists have prescribed DevSecOps. 

DevSecOps aims to automate security workloads that are baked into the infrastructure from the beginning. A SumoLogic survey revealed that 45% of IT security decision-makers agree with the fact that adopting the DevSecOps methodology is one programmatic step that would beef up security levels in the cloud. As DevOps has been proven to provide a solid backbone to app development, SecOps will ensure a robust security infrastructure. 

DevSecOps vs DevOps

Service Mesh 

This is yet another architectural concept being proposed to secure the communication channels between security layers. A service mesh provides a dedicated layer for this purpose. As cloud platforms continue to evolve, service mesh will play a prominent role in provisioning access to cloud tenants. 

Artificial Intelligence 

Sophisticated, high-end technology has to incorporate AI if it has to improve. This forethought is bringing AI into the fold of cloud computing. The same operations that require 24/7 supervision and are currently being moderated by humans, can be off-loaded to the swift, error-free sharpness of AI. 

As per an IBM survey, cloud computing is a key enabler for widespread AI adoption. 90% of early cloud adopters stated that their cloud-centric ecosystems will be integral to the implementation of AI solutions. 55% of respondents confirmed using both SaaS & PaaS to conceptualize and offer AI-based solutions. Such factors are stimulating the emergence of AI-as-a-Service (AIaaS) into the mainstream. The sample size of respondents alluded to leveraging open source software which brings us to our next point. 

Open Source 

Open source clouds are built with free-to-access toolkits that can be customized by cloud users as per convenience. In other words, the infrastructure is highly flexible. Private cloud networks tend to be restrictive in terms of features, as elaborated earlier. Open source platforms on the other hand enable users to code the features of their choice without any preordained caps.  

[Also Read: Cloud Data Migration – Adopting the Right Strategy and Best Practices]

Endnote

This brings us to the end of this guide on cloud computing. If you’re interested in getting cloud computing services for your business, get in touch

We are a full-scale software development company helping startups and enterprises fulfill their cloud and product development goals for many years. We have helped many prestigious brands, including IKEA, Domino’s, KFC, and Adidas achieve great results in their business with our custom-made cloud solutions. Our solutions have also helped startups raise $700 million in investment. Check our complete portfolio of clients.

If you have a dream, then we have the team to put daylight between you and your competitors. We’ll be waiting to hear from you.

FAQs

Q. What are the 6 types of cloud computing? 

A. The 6 types of cloud computing include:

  • IaaS – Infrastructure-as-a-Service 
  • SaaS – Software-as-a-Service 
  • PaaS – Platform-as-a-Service
  • BPaaS – Business-Process-as-a-Service 
  • MBaaS – Mobile-“Backend”-as-a-Service 
  • FaaS – Function-as-a-Service  

Q. Who controls the cloud?

A. Although the proprietary owner of the data remains the subscriber, the infrastructure is governed/controlled by the cloud vendor. 

Q. Why is it called the cloud?

A. The cloud is nomenclatured so, because the data is stored on a remote, virtual server and accessed through the internet. 

Q. Why is cloud computing good for business? 

A. Cloud computing opens the door for cash-strapped and even legacy businesses to backup data at scale. In the event of a cyber disaster, the data can be recovered without loss, lowering the risk return ratio for all. 

Q. How can cloud computing provide value to business?

A. Migrating your data to the cloud reduces the cost of IT maintenance by magnitudes. Self-ownership of IT resources requires upfront capital input for infrastructural setup, workforce hiring, and data management. However, such cost-heavy functions can be outsourced to the cloud vendor at a fraction of the cost.   

Q. What are examples of business uses of cloud?

A. The 7 most common use cases of cloud computing include: 

  • IaaS 
  • PaaS 
  • Hybrid cloud and multi-cloud
  • Big Data analytics 
  • Data recovery 
  • Data backup 
  • Testing and development 

Q. What kind of business are most likely to benefit from using cloud computing? 

A. Data-centric organizations dealing in troves of data stand to benefit the most from cloud computing. As proven, it is easier to store, manage, scale, secure and recover data over a cloud environment versus an on-premise IT department. This includes logistical, operational, and economical upsides. 

Q. What are the 4 types of cloud?  

A. The four types of cloud include the following:

  • Public Cloud 
  • Private Cloud 
  • Hybrid Cloud 
  • Multi Cloud
Supeed Srivastava
THE AUTHOR
Supeed Srivastava
DIRECTOR & CO-FOUNDER
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