Cloud computing refers to anything involved with hosted services that operate over the internet. There isn’t one single cloud, and they can be private or public, with cloud infrastructure consisting of both hardware and software components.
Public clouds usually offer services to anyone with an internet connection, whereas private clouds are networks or data centers that offer hosted services to a limited number of users. Private clouds come with more limitations on access as well as lots more permission settings.
Whether a cloud is public or private, cloud computing exists to provide access to computing resources and IT services. You could describe it as on-demand computing, though the ‘cloud’ name is more popular, taken as it was from the symbol traditionally used to represent the internet in general.
Types of Cloud Computing Services
There are three main types of cloud computing, including Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS).
SaaS is a way of delivering applications over the Internet, and will be provided for a customer as a service. This saves the customer from having to install and maintain software, as they can simply access it via the internet. All SaaS applications operate on a SaaS provider’s servers, with the provider managing access to the application.
IaaS is a cloud computing infrastructure that provides computer, network and storage resources via the internet. Providers will usually offer the service with a subscription model that can be scaled up or down as required. This provides customers with a more flexible infrastructure.
PaaS allows developers to hire everything they need to build an application through the cloud. A cloud provider will ‘rent out’ development tools, infrastructure and operating systems, helping to simplify the development process and make it accessible to developers who don’t have all the necessary tools.
How Cloud Computing Works
Cloud computing works by enabling a client to access data and applications over the internet through their own devices. The data and applications could be hosted on the likes of remote physical servers, databases or simple computers.
It needs an internet network connection to link the front end to the back end, with the front end consisting of the client device and the browser they are using along with their network and any cloud software applications. The back end consists of the various databases, servers and computers. In basic terms, the back end acts as the storage facility for the data and apps being accessed by the front end.
A central server manages communications between the front and back ends, which relies on programmed protocols to enable the exchange of data. The central server also uses software and some middleware to manage the connectivity of the different client devices and cloud servers.
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