What are Cloud Services?
Cloud technology has been around for some time now, providing businesses with on-demand computing services that support business growth, while optimising performance and enhancing security. But what exactly are cloud services and how can they benefit your organisation?
What are cloud services?
Simply put, cloud services are services that are delivered to users over the internet (“the cloud”). There is a wide range of cloud services available, each designed to provide access to applications and resources without the need for internal infrastructure or traditional hardware.
Services can include the delivery of servers, storage, networks, platforms, databases, software, analytics and intelligence. You might already be using cloud services in some form without even realising it.
Why move to cloud-based solutions?
Innovation and agility are crucial to any business’s success. However, legacy IT infrastructure has caused major hurdles for many organisations. If you’ve hosted on-premise servers, data processing hardware, and software, you’ll know what we’re talking about. It takes a lot of time, money, and effort to maintain and patch these resources. Frankly, that’s not a sustainable process if you’re operating in a face-paced, competitive market.
When you move to cloud-based solutions, you cut IT maintenance costs, add extra layers of security, and gain access to resources that let you scale services to match customer demands.
What do cloud services do?
Cloud services enable businesses to store information and data on physical or virtual servers, helping businesses to lower operating costs, run their infrastructure more efficiently, and scale as needs change. There are many more benefits to cloud computing services, which we’ll come onto later.
How do cloud services work?
As above, cloud services store data on remote servers accessed via an internet connection. This information is then maintained and controlled by cloud computing providers and their cloud platforms. Typically, businesses only pay for the cloud services they use, making them economically viable for many.
Customers can access their stored information and other cloud services via the provider’s server, ensuring they don’t need to host the applications or data on their own on-premise servers. In contrast to traditional hardware and software solutions, users simply need a computer, network connection and operating system to access cloud services.
Types of cloud computing
Cloud computing is bespoke by nature. Different businesses have different needs, so their cloud computing services should be different too. Before you decide which cloud services you need in your organisation, you’ll need to determine the type of cloud environment you need.
There are three main types of cloud platforms that a business can implement their cloud services on:
Public clouds are managed solely by the cloud provider, delivering computing resources over the internet for customers to access via their web browser. All hardware, software, and supporting infrastructure is owned by the cloud provider. Examples of public cloud include Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.
Private clouds are cloud computing resources that are used exclusively by a single business, often those that wish to store more sensitive data. They are often physically located on a company’s on-site data centre, but third-party service providers can also be engaged to host their private cloud. All services and infrastructure are maintained on a private network and access can be via browsers or virtual machines.
As the name suggests, hybrid clouds combine both public and private cloud environments, using technology that enables the sharing of data and applications. Moving data and applications between public and private cloud means that businesses can benefit from greater flexibility and optimised security, compliance, and infrastructure.
Multi-cloud is a combination of two or more cloud resources. The distinguishing feature of multi-cloud is that it only includes one type of cloud – public or private, but not both. This gives cloud-native companies ultimate freedom and mobility, letting them choose the best resource for each task.
Types of cloud services
Once a cloud deployment type has been decided, you can start to think about the types of cloud services you need for your business. There are three basic types: Infrastructure as a Service, Software as a Service, and Platform as a Service.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
Infrastructure as a Service is where companies rent IT infrastructure from a cloud provider, usually on a pay-as-you-go basis. Infrastructure could include storage, networks, operating systems, servers, and virtual machines.
IaaS offers the complete data centre framework that organisations need to run cloud services, without the maintenance or upkeep. Businesses that use IaaS eliminate the need for resource-intensive, on-site installations which can be costly and time-consuming.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Software as a Service is a distribution model that allows software applications to be instantly delivered across the internet, usually on a subscription basis. Cloud providers host and manage the applications and data in their own servers, databases, networks, and computing resources.
However, Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) might also contract a third-party cloud provider to host the application in the provider’s data centre. End users can then access the applications via their web browser on any device.
SaaS products include email, calendar, and office tool applications such as Microsoft Office 365.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Platform as a Service enables developers to build cloud applications without setting up or managing the underlying infrastructure of servers, storage, networks, and databases. PaaS cloud computing services deliver an instant environment in which software applications can be developed, tested, delivered, and managed.
The solution means organisations can benefit from quick turnarounds and practically no maintenance. PaaS providers will supply a database, operating system, and programming language to make it easy for developers to create bespoke web or mobile applications.
Function as a Service (FaaS)
FaaS is central to serverless computing. It enables developers to run code or software containers without specifying or managing the infrastructure required to run the code. With FaaS platforms, dev teams can write modular pieces of code that can be executed in response to specific events or requests.
AWS Lambda is one of the most widely used FaaS platforms and can be integrated with over 200 AWS services.
Serverless computing is a method of providing backend services on an as-used basis. A serverless provider allows users to write and set up code without the hassle of worrying about the underlying infrastructure.
In the serverless model, these sorts of back-end functions are disparate pieces of code that sit dormant until needed. When a user completes an action to trigger the code, the serverless vendor kicks in and allocates space - allowing for a seamless transition. By using serverless technologies, platforms can be dynamically adjusted, ensuring usage and costs are perfectly aligned to demand.
Benefits of cloud services
As we’ve already mentioned, there are several benefits to cloud services for all types of businesses. More organisations are moving away from traditional IT resources and solutions, and into cloud-based solutions to reap these benefits and ensure their business is prepared for the future of digital and the modern workplace.
Some of the key advantages of cloud services include:
Improved performance & collaboration
By using cloud services, businesses can increase their opportunities for collaboration. Especially in a remote workforce. Cloud services enable employees to easily access, share and edit files in real-time, from any location. With increased collaboration and the ability for teams to get things done quicker, general business performance is also improved.
Greater cost efficiencies
With no capital expenditure on expensive hardware and software, as well as setting up and maintaining on-site data centres, cloud services can really save you money. By engaging with a cloud provider, you negate the need for any of this stuff. And that’s before you factor in paying for round-the-clock electricity and IT specialists to manage your infrastructure.
Additionally, many cloud services are offered on a subscription or pay-as-you-go basis, ensuring you never overpay for the services you receive.
One of the key drivers of cloud services is the ability to scale as your business needs change. You can simply flex your IT resources up and down as you need to, ensuring you only use and pay for what you require at any given time. And with remote working becoming the future of the workplace, flexibility is key.
With professional cloud services from a reputable provider, you can also benefit from strengthened security measures. Many cloud providers offer technologies and controls that help protect your data, applications, and infrastructure from ever-growing cyber threats. In addition, most cloud computing services are run on large secure data centres that are regularly upgraded to the highest security standards.
If you keep your IT resources in-house, your teams are often spending lots of time setting up hardware, patching software and completing other mundane IT tasks. However, cloud services can completely remove the need for many of these maintenance activities, freeing up your IT teams to focus on their core business objectives.
Reduced carbon footprint
With fewer physical servers and potentially no need for an on-site data centre at all, businesses can significantly reduce their carbon footprint. In addition, with more opportunities for file sharing and collaboration, there is less need for your employees to use energy and spend money printing documents.
Nasstar solutions to cloud services
At Nasstar, we deliver transformational end-to-end cloud services that empower you and your team to achieve more. Wherever you are on your cloud journey, we can provide the expertise you need to avoid common pitfalls and accelerate return on investment. Our cloud services include:
Cloud transformation involves modernising and optimising an organisation’s entire IT ecosystem - hardware, software, data management, and security - to meet business objectives. It incorporates more than just technology. Cloud transformation is also about changing how teams work, including organisational structure and design, talent acquisition and enablement, and operating model adaptation.
Cloud migration is the process of transferring workloads, data, and other resources from on-premise IT infrastructure to the cloud. It’s one of the most significant transitions that organisations will go through.
Since every organisation has different reasons for moving to cloud, no migration is the same. The journey is largely determined by current business objectives and the role cloud computing already plays within an organisation.
Cloud security is a collection of technology, controls, policies, and procedures that protect online data, applications, and platforms. As businesses transform their workplaces using cloud services, these security principles help to shield them from data breaches, ransomware, and other cyber security threats.
A multi-cloud approach combines two or more public cloud resources into one system. Usually, companies choose the public cloud resources that best fit a task, workload, or design. This lets them pick and choose providers, selecting the best for each aspect of the job.
Virtual Desktops provide end-users with remote desktops, with all the benefits that provides. So, you’ll get the convenience of remote working with a familiar desktop interface, and easy access to applications, software, documents, files, and data. In any location, on any device.
Microsoft 365 is designed to empower your workforce and transform how you work by enabling mobility, encouraging flexibility, and enhancing productivity.
Microsoft Teams has become an essential collaboration tool, used to share work and ideas. We’ve helped over 1.7 million users increase productivity using Teams. We can help you too.
So, there you have it. Cloud services explained.
Find out more about cloud services at Nasstar,
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