The 'cloud' seems to be everywhere these days. But what is it?
Put simply, the cloud is a technology through which you can "rent" IT and software resources on a pay-as-you-go or subscription basis.
The cloud may appear to be a nebulous and esoteric concept from the user perspective, but at it's core is a gargantuan network of actual hardware. The 'engines' of the cloud consist of datacentres running thousands of actual, physical servers, upon which businesses and customers execute their applications and store their data.
All cloud providers have huge datacentres dotted around the world. The image in the banner at the top of this piece is the interior of a datacentre, showing the vast number number of racks each filled with several servers.
The datacentres themselves are vast complexes that provide power, cooling, maintenance and monitoring of all this hardware as well as the operational software of the cloud itself. Below is an image of a Microsoft Azure datacentre.
Datacentres in turn are all interlinked by fast, high-bandwidth connectivity so that users in virtually every part of the world can connect up to their nearest geographical location for faster access to cloud services. Microsoft Azure for example, maintains several 'regions' of datacentres across the world as shown below.
So how does it work?
The cloud comes in essentially three 'flavours':
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
- Platform as a Service (PaaS)
- Software as a Service (SaaS)
In addition to these three, vendors have also coined a number of other "as-a-Service"-isms. For example
- DbaaS: Database as a Service
- AIaaS: Artificial Intelligence as a Service
- DRaaS: Disaster Recovery as a Service
- WaaS: Workspace (i.e. virtual desktops) as a Service
- IOTaaS: Internet Of Things as a Service
- XaaS: Anything as a Service! (really?)
In my opinion these are all essentially marketing terms, and are technically specific implementations of one of the three core systems I explained above.
If you need any help clarifying the cloud or how it may help you or your business, why not get in touch?