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What is cloud computing?

Understanding the types of cloud computing resources can be time-consuming and costly. Enterprises need to buy physical servers and other infrastructure through procurement processes that can take months, and support the architecture of cloud computing. The acquired systems require a physical space, typically a specialized room with sufficient power and cooling. After configuring and deploying the systems, enterprises need expert personnel to manage them.

This long process is difficult to scale when demand spikes or business expands. Enterprises can acquire more computing resources than needed, ending up with low utilization numbers.

Cloud computing addresses these issues by offering computing resources as scalable, on-demand services. Learn more about Google Cloud, a suite of cloud computing service models offered by Google.

Cloud computing defined

Cloud computing is the on-demand availability of computing resources as services over the internet. It eliminates the need for enterprises to procure, configure, or manage resources themselves, and they only pay for what they use.

There are three types of cloud computing service models: infrastructure as a service offers compute and storage services, platform as a service offers a develop-and-deploy environment to build cloud apps, and software as a service delivers apps as services.

What are the benefits of cloud computing?

It’s flexible

Due to the architecture of cloud computing, enterprises and their users can access cloud services from anywhere with an internet connection, scaling services up or down as needed.

It’s efficient

Enterprises can develop new applications and rapidly get them into production—without worrying about the underlying infrastructure.

It offers strategic value

Because cloud providers stay on top of the latest innovations and offer them as services to customers, enterprises can get more competitive advantages—and a higher return on investment—than if they’d invested in soon-to-be obsolete technologies.

It’s secure

Enterprises often ask, What are the security risks of cloud computing? They are considered relatively low. Cloud computing security is generally recognized as stronger than that in enterprise data centers, because of the depth and breadth of the security mechanisms cloud providers put into place. Plus, cloud providers’ security teams are known as top experts in the field.

It’s cost-effective

Whatever cloud computing service model is used, enterprises only pay for the computing resources they use. They don’t need to overbuild data center capacity to handle unexpected spikes in demand or business growth, and they can deploy IT staff to work on more strategic initiatives.

Do you need cloud computing?

The pace of innovation—and the need for advanced computing to accelerate this growth—makes cloud computing a viable option to advance research and speed up new product development. Cloud computing can give enterprises access to scalable resources and the latest technologies without needing to worry about capital expenditures or limited fixed infrastructure. What is the future of cloud computing? It’s expected to become the dominant enterprise IT environment.

If your organization experiences any of the following, you’re probably a good candidate for cloud computing:

  • High business growth that outpaces infrastructure capabilities
  • Low utilization of existing infrastructure resources
  • Large volumes of data that are overwhelming your on-premises data storage resources
  • Slow response times with on-premises infrastructure
  • Delayed product development cycles due to infrastructure constraints
  • Cash flow challenges due to high computing infrastructure expenses
  • Highly mobile or distributed user population

These scenarios require more than traditional data centers can provide.

What is cloud computing used for?

Cloud computing offers a broad range of possible applications that can benefit organizations. Here are some common use cases:

Infrastructure scaling

Many organizations, including those in retail, have wildly varying needs for compute capacity. Cloud computing easily accommodates these fluctuations.  

Disaster recovery

Rather than building more data centers to ensure continuity during disasters, businesses use cloud computing to safely back up their digital assets.

Data storage

Cloud computing helps overloaded data centers by storing large volumes of data, making it more accessible, easing analysis, and making backup easier.

Application development

Cloud computing offers enterprise developers quick access to tools and platforms for building and testing applications, speeding up time to market.

Big data analytics

Cloud computing offers almost unlimited resources to process large volumes of data to speed research and reduce time to insights.