Nowadays, it seems that everything happens in the "Cloud" as we make use of web applications to access our information, to perform personal activities such as online purchases or payments for services, and to carry out business or office work.
Cloud Computing is not a thing, or a computer, or just hardware in some Data Center; it is a service model. It is the on-demand availability of computer system resources, especially data storage and computing, without direct active management by the user.
Cloud Computing is an evolution of virtualization. The basic idea is that end-users no longer need knowledge or control over the technology infrastructure that supports them.
According to this definition, infrastructure must have five essential characteristics to be a Cloud model:
- On-demand service
- Wide network access
- Pooled resources
- Fast elasticity
- Measured service or pay-as-you-go model
If we analyze the traditional model of computing, in which users and companies need to invest in equipment (hardware), applications, operating systems, security tools, and software to run some type of application, it is easy to understand why Cloud Computing became so popular.
The Computing Cloud emerged as a way to democratize information and improve the experience of those who depend on technological resources in their personal or professional lives. Cloud Computing can be classified mainly in 2 ways: service models and deployment models.
Cloud types by service model
- IaaS - Infrastructure as a Service: is a Cloud Computing offering in which a provider gives users access to computing resources, such as: servers, storage, and networks. We can choose what type of virtual machines we want to use: Linux or Windows, as well as memory or processor capacity. For us, the hardware is transparent; we do everything virtually. We only have the access information and some technical details.
- PaaS - Platform as a Service: is a complete development and deployment environment in the Cloud. Like IaaS, PaaS includes infrastructure (servers, storage, and networking), but also includes middleware, development tools, database management systems, etc. It is designed for the full application cycle: compilation, testing, deployment, administering, and upgrading.
- SaaS - Software as a Service: this is a new way of distributing software, typically web applications, that have a monthly payment plan. The service provider is the one who has the applications hosted on their servers, allowing their clients to access them through an Internet connection; they are therefore available at any time and from any place.
Cloud types by deployment model
- Public Cloud
It is defined as services offered by external providers through the Internet and that are available to anyone who wishes to use or buy them, allowing clients to only pay for what they use. The cloud service provider is responsible for all system administration and maintenance work.
- Private Cloud
They are offered over the Internet or a private internal network only to internal users and not to the general public. They provide companies with much of the advantages of the Public Cloud (such as self-service, scalability, and elasticity), but with the control and customization available with dedicated resources through a computing infrastructure hosted in the local environment; it means more security and is recommended for fields with regulations, such as banks and government institutions.
- Hybrid Cloud
It is a combination of one or more Public and Private Cloud environments. These become Hybrid Clouds when APIs, VPNs, or WANs connect the two environments. This interconnectivity is the only way hybrid clouds work. Without it, they are just independent public and private Clouds exchanging information.
What is a Multi-Cloud model?
In some cases, a single Public Cloud is not enough to meet the computing needs of an organization. Instead, they turn to Multi-Clouds, an example of a more complex Hybrid Cloud that combines a Private Cloud with multiple Public Cloud services.
While a Hybrid Cloud always consists of a Public and Private Cloud, a Multi-Cloud environment is a bit more varied depending on the case. Under these agreements, an organization's IT infrastructure consists of multiple public clouds from various vendors, although it can access those clouds through a single software-defined network.
A Private Cloud could certainly be part of a Multi-Cloud architecture, but it is generally more isolated from its Public Cloud counterparts.
The purpose of a Multi-Cloud model is the versatility and specialization to run certain applications. In business organizations, for example, not all departments have the same needs in the Cloud. A marketing department, for example, requires different types of Cloud Computing tools than a research or human resources department. The same applies to the security measures, which can be different in each department.
Instead of trying to create a one-size-fits-all solution, companies can choose from existing Public Cloud providers to ensure that each department has a solution tailored to their specific information needs.
Multi-Cloud models also offer peace of mind because they don't leave organizations dependent on a single Cloud provider. This can decrease costs and increase flexibility in the long run, while avoiding the problem of vendor lock-in.
When combined with Private Cloud assets, Multi-Cloud implementations allow organizations to achieve multiple goals at the same time without having to radically expand or rethink their existing infrastructure.
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Corrales, Juan Andrés. Rock Content (2020). Experiencia del usuario: la guía completa para complacer a tu audiencia digital en el 2020 [The Complete Guide to Pleasing Your Digital Audience in 2020]: https://rockcontent.com/es/blog/experiencia-del-usuario/, accessed May 2020.
The IT support center (2017). Cloud Computing Models and Types: https://www.theitsupportcenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/CloudComputingModelsandTypes.pdf, accessed May 2020.