The term “cloud” has become more and more popular in recent years, but interestingly enough – it’s not connected to the weather or the much-debated climate change. The clouds we are increasingly talking about are actually digital clouds that refer to cloud computing, a phenomenon that is increasingly growing in the digital age. In today’s article, we are going to talk about cloud computing for beginners. We are going to tell you what cloud computing actually is, some of the best cloud platforms and how you should use them so that you know what to expect when pondering whether to use cloud platforms or not.
What Is Cloud Computing?
Simply put, cloud computing is when computing services are provided by a company or place outside of where they are being used. To compare it with something more familiar to you, we could say that cloud computing is like electricity – the users of the electrical energy don’t actually produce it, they just use the electricity sent to them by the supplier.
Cloud computing functions in the same way – you have a provider with servers, you upload the files to those servers and use them by paying a certain amount of money.
The term “cloud computing” appeared as early as 1996 in an internal document issued by Compaq, but the concept and the phrase started growing in popularity somewhere around 2006 when Amazon released its Elastic Compute Cloud. The term “cloud”, not related to “cloud computing”, appeared a bit earlier, around 1993, to describe what is now called distributed computing, something that could be described as a predecessor of cloud computing.
Today, the term “cloud computing” is generally used to describe data centers available to many users over the Internet. Large clouds, predominant today, often have functions distributed over multiple locations from central servers. If the connection to the user is relatively close, it may be designated an edge server.
Clouds may be limited to a single organization (enterprise clouds), or be available to many organizations (public cloud), meaning that clouds can be internal (private) or public. Cloud computing relies on sharing of resources to achieve coherence and economies of scale.
Best Cloud Computing Services
In order to help you choose a cloud platform, we are going to bring you a list of the best and most popular cloud services out there:
1. Amazon Web Services
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a subsidiary of Amazon that provides on-demand cloud computing platforms and APIs to individuals, companies, and governments, on a metered pay-as-you-go basis; it was launched back in 2006. One of these services is the famous Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2, see above), which allows users to have at their disposal a virtual cluster of computers, available all the time, through the Internet; we know it as a pioneer of modern-day cloud computing.
AWS’s version of virtual computers emulates most of the attributes of a real computer, including hardware central processing units (CPUs) and graphics processing units (GPUs) for processing; local/RAM memory; hard-disk/SSD storage; a choice of operating systems; networking; and pre-loaded application software such as web servers, databases, and customer relationship management (CRM). The AWS technology is executed via several server farms located around the globe and run by Amazon’s subsidiary.
Fees are based on a combination of usage (the so-called “Pay-as-you-go” model), the infrastructural features chosen by the subscriber, required availability, redundancy, security, and service options, which means that the market has a lot of influence on the price. Subscribers can pay for a single virtual AWS computer, a dedicated physical computer, or clusters of either. As part of the subscription agreement, Amazon provides security for subscribers’ systems.
As far as the practicalities go, AWS is highly customisable and has a free trial period, while the customer service is not that good.
2. Microsoft Azure
Microsoft Azure, commonly referred to as Azure, is a cloud computing service created by Microsoft for building, testing, deploying, and managing applications and services through Microsoft-managed data centers. It provides software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and supports many different programming languages, tools, and frameworks, including both Microsoft-specific and third-party software and systems.
Azure was announced in October 2008, started with codename “Project Red Dog”, and released on February 1, 2010, as Windows Azure before being renamed to Microsoft Azure on March 25, 2014.
Like AWS, Azure also has a free trial (that last for 12 months), after which you can choose your “Pay-as-you-go” model of subscription; the service includes a cost calculator. The main downside of Azure is that it rather expensive when compared to other services. Also, it is compatible with both Windows- and Linux-based systems.
3. Google Cloud Platform
Google Cloud Platform (GCP), offered by Google, is a suite of cloud computing services that runs on the same infrastructure that Google uses internally for its end-user products, such as Google Search, Gmail, and YouTube. Alongside a set of management tools, it provides a series of modular cloud services including computing, data storage, data analytics, and machine learning. Registration requires a credit card or bank account details. Similar to Azure, Google Cloud Platform provides infrastructure as a service, platform as a service, and serverless computing environments.
Google Cloud Platform is a part of Google Cloud, which includes the Google Cloud Platform public cloud infrastructure, as well as G Suite, enterprise versions of Android and Chrome OS, and application programming interfaces (APIs) for machine learning and enterprise mapping services.
GCP is very user friendly when compared to other services and also offers a 12-month free trial period before choosing your subscription model (although you need to provide all billing information beforehand). The downside is that it can be tricky to set up for people with less technical knowledge.
4. IBM Cloud
IBM Cloud is a set of cloud computing services for business offered by the information technology company IBM. It combines platform as a service (PaaS) with infrastructure as a service (IaaS). The platform scales and supports both small development teams and organizations, and large enterprise businesses.
It is globally deployed across data centers around the world. While it may not be as popular and known as its main competitors, IBM cloud is truly a good cloud platform with a lot of features that will allow you to use it with fewer difficulties than some other platform, plus it can provide you with more features than its competition.
Without any specific downsides, the pros of using IBM Cloud include a fully customisable interface, a set of pre-configured tools and a set of useful management tools that allow you to operate it with ease.
5. Oracle Cloud
Oracle Cloud is a cloud computing service offered by the Oracle Corporation providing servers, storage, network, applications and services through a global network of Oracle Corporation managed data centres. The company allows these services to be provisioned on demand over the Internet.
Oracle Cloud provides infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), software as a service (SaaS), and data as a service (DaaS). These services are used to build, deploy, integrate, and extend applications in the cloud. This platform supports numerous open standards (SQL, HTML5, REST, etc.), open-source applications, and a variety of programming languages, databases, tools, and frameworks including Oracle-specific, Open Source, and third-party software and systems, which is why it’s so good.
Oracle Cloud has very good architecture and is actually a free tier, which are great advantages when compared to the competition, but it’s not suitable for smaller businesses, which is its main downside.
Other Cloud Platforms
These are, of course, not the only available cloud platforms, but these are the best, the most known and the easiest to use, which is why we have analyzed them in this article. But, if you’re not satisfied with the above-mentioned products, here is a list of some additional services you can check out to see whether they suit your needs better:
- Alibaba Cloud
- Cloud Linux
- Digital Reality
- FUJITSU Cloud
- NIWA Cloud
- Rackspace Managed Cloud
- Xen Cloud
This covers our analysis of the topic for today. For more information, keep following us and staytuned for more of the same.