Now you have already learned a lot about Cloud Computing and its features. And you’ve probably already guessed it: there are almost no limits to the areas of application for this IT trend!
In principle, everything that used to be done only via the company’s own IT infrastructure can now be done via the cloud. Cloud services cover all areas of modern information technology. However, this also means that the applications that are run in the cloud are not necessarily new. The use of the cloud itself is the innovation!
Cloud Computing as digital revolution
The special thing about Cloud Computing is not what is done in the cloud, but that it is done in the cloud!
Cloud Computing turns information technology into a service or supply commodity such as water, district heating or electricity.
Just as today not everyone owns their own well, tiled stove or electricity generator, there is no longer any need to invest in the acquisition and maintenance of in-house IT infrastructure. Computing power, storage space and applications can be easily obtained via Cloud Computing over the Internet. Only what is actually consumed is charged.
This billing model is very similar to the operating costs for water or electricity. This is why Cloud Computing is sometimes referred to as utility computing (compare utility bill).
And just as with water and electricity, today’s individuals no longer use their own infrastructure (imagine if everyone had to dig their own well!), but obtain the resources from an external provider.
For water supply, this means that you can simply turn on the tap and use as much or as little water as you need.
The situation is similar with Cloud Computing. Instead of investing in an expensive local IT infrastructure yourself, you use IT services via the cloud. In a sense, you turn on the “Internet tap” and only consume and pay for as many resources as you actually need at the time.
Central to Cloud Computing is the idea of information technology as a service. This means that not everyone takes care of their own IT infrastructure themselves, but rather rents resources from a cloud provider.
As mentioned above, the areas of application for Cloud Computing are diverse. Nevertheless, three major areas of application can be identified. The naming of the three areas follows the pattern of “X as a Service” (XaaS). So “X as a service”.
We can distinguish:
- Infrastructure as a Service (abbreviation: IaaS): Use of infrastructure via the cloud. This is primarily about storage space, but also about computing power.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): Use of a development environment and other resources for software programming via the cloud. This service is aimed at people who want to develop applications themselves, i.e. programmers are addressed here.
- Software as a Service (abbreviation: SaaS): Use of various software via the cloud. With this service, ready-made programs are accessed. They are no longer installed on the local computer, but run over the Internet.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is the basis for all other services. Storage space and raw computing power are obtained via the resource pool of the cloud. However, this is then used to run the company’s own software. This service is primarily aimed at IT departments of companies or public authorities.
IaaS providers are usually large companies that make their enormous IT resources available to other user groups.
Examples of IaaS providers are:
- Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- Microsoft Azure
- Google Cloud Platform
- IBM cloud
Platform as a Service (PaaS) is already one level higher. It does not only provide the basic resources (storage and computing power), but also a development environment for creating software. This service is aimed at people who work in software development.
Examples of PaaS providers are:
- Google App Engine
- Apache Stratos
- Salesforce App Cloud
Software as a Service (SaaS) is finally the highest level of cloud services. Complete programs are accessed via the cloud. These are no longer “traditionally” installed on one’s own computer, but used via the Internet. This form of cloud service is probably the one that private individuals, as well as companies, have most to do with.
Examples of SaaS services are:
- Microsoft Office 365
- Google Drive
Since SaaS addresses the largest target group, the consumer, this area probably plays the most important role in your everyday life. That’s why we’d like to take a closer look at one of the areas of activity of the above-mentioned SaaS services:
Cloud storage provider: Store and share data in the cloud
Michael made it! He just finished his master thesis. Satisfied he leans back and is looking forward to celebrating his success with his friends later on.
He’s already trying to shut down his laptop when he sees the newspaper. Michael’s face turns pale. Because he remembers the report about Sabine Z., a student who forgot her computer on the train with the only version of her doctoral thesis. The thought alone makes Michael sick.
What if his laptop breaks down right now? Or if someone breaks into his apartment and takes his laptop? Better not take any risks! Save quickly! But unfortunately, Michael has left his USB stick in the office. “Shit”, Michael thinks. “Okay, I’ll just email my work to myself”. But there’s a problem here too, because Michael’s master thesis is too big as an email attachment. Michael is close to desperation. The longer he thinks about it, the more certain he is that his laptop will break down exactly tonight.
Fortunately, Michael’s roommate Alex comes home at that moment. He immediately recognises the problem and suggests that Michael save his work in a cloud storage like Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive. So, the evening and Michael’s nerves are saved!
But what are cloud storage services?
With cloud storage services, files can be stored in the cloud and shared with others. All you need is an account and you’ll get online storage. Some providers even offer a certain amount of storage for free.
In addition to simply storing your data, you can usually also share it with other people. This is especially useful when you want to work on a file together with others.
Cloud storage services are also suitable for data transfer: whether you want to send your data to friends or colleagues or simply transfer it from one end device to another.
Cloud storage services are also a great way to keep backup copies of your data. Just like Michael, with cloud storage you don’t have to worry that the storage device will break or be forgotten on the train.
Note: For cloud storage services, the focus is on the use of storage capacity. However, they do not directly access the raw storage resources of the cloud. They use the resources via a ready-made software, i.e. a program. That’s why a cloud storage service is therefore not an Infrastructure as a Service (abbreviation: IaaS), but a Software as a Service (abbreviation: SaaS)!