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Cloud Computing Models (For Beginners)

A Beginner's Guide to Cloud Computing

The Four Cloud Computing Models (For Beginners)

The Cloud“, “Save it in the Cloud“, “Back it up to the cloud“, “What cloud computing model is good for me?” … and many other terms and questions that you hear all the time. While there are many cloud professionals by now, there are still a lot of people with no clue what cloud computing is or what cloud computing models are available, if this sounds like you, this article is for you. And I am planning to make it part of a series of articles related to cloud computing. I hope you can find it useful.

If you use web-based email such as Gmail or you use tools such as Dropbox to transfer data, you are already using cloud computing. But that is only one model and it is called SaaS (Software as a Service). What are other models of cloud computing?

The three cloud computing models: SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS.

SaaS Software as a Service Cloud Computing Model

As mentioned above, Gmail and dropbox are good examples of SaaS, another example of SaaS is Microsoft Office 365 application. In the SaaS cloud computing model, the cloud service provider takes care of everything (as illustrated in the below figure): from the application development to the whole underlying infrastructure, as well as the support and maintenance. And the customer is actually paying certain monthly or annual fees just to use the app, and it is usually a pay-as-you-go model.

Cloud-Computing-Models-IaaS-PaaS-SaaS
The three traditional cloud computing models: IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS

 

PaaS Platform as a Service Cloud Computing Model

PaaS stands for Platform as a Service, and in this cloud computing model the customer manages the application, while the cloud service provider manages everything else. The service typically includes the network and network security, servers-and-storage components, in addition to the database management and other development tools required.

IaaS Infrastructure as a Service Cloud Computing Model

Infrastructure as a Service or IaaS model is the closest one to the traditional on-premise data center but on the cloud. The cloud service provider is responsible for the infrastructure components.  So instead of guessing the capacity and then going through the process of purchasing equipment, the customer can get all the needed capacity directly from a cloud service provider. The world’s leading IaaS cloud computing service providers are:

I have worked on Microsoft operating systems and products my entire career life. And it is only natural to choose Microsoft Azure as my favorite IaaS cloud computing service provider. However, coming to know AWS, you can’t but appreciate the variety and complexity of their services, support, and user experience.

Serverless Computing

It is not actually “serverless” the server is still there, but it is just not visible to the application developer. This model goes beyond the traditional cloud computing models. In a serverless computing model, the cloud service provider automatically scales, provisions, and manages the infrastructure needed to execute the code written by the developer.

AWS Lambda is an example of serverless computing.

The Three Cloud Computing Deployments

The previous sections described the three traditional cloud computing models (SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS) in addition to serverless model. However, deploying a cloud computing model can take three forms as well, those are:

Public Cloud

Public cloud is the most common deployment of all three. This is when the server, storage, the network between them, and whatever other supporting elements it requires are all owned and operated by a third-party such as Google, Azure, or Amazon. As a customer, you don’t have to worry about physical security, capacity, or maintenance. And because public cloud providers rely on economies of scale, the end-user will get all that at a lower cost compared to purchasing and maintaining his own hardware. In other words, you will spend less on Capex.

Private Cloud

A private cloud refers to the cloud computing deployment where the whole cloud infrastructure is used exclusively by one organization. And this infrastructure may be hosted on-site, meaning that all servers, storage, and other components are located in a self-owned data center. Or, it can be hosted by a service provider, but not shared with any other organization.

Private cloud deployment model provides better flexibility and improved security. Thus, it is used by organizations such as financial organizations,  governmental agencies, and healthcare providers where high levels of privacy and security are required.

Hybrid Cloud

This type of deployment is a combination of public cloud and private cloud deployment. Organizations love this option because they can benefit from the advantages of both. In hybrid cloud deployment, an organization can choose which services are more convenient to be on-premise and which services should be migrated to the cloud. Usually, web-based mail service is the first to go up to the cloud.

Hybrid cloud deployment provides the flexibility of the cloud and the control over sensitive data especially when it comes to privacy. It also allows the organization to migrate gradually into the public cloud instead of exhausting resources by fully migrating all at once.

Nizar Hakeem

Technologist, computer and communications engineering graduate, certified in the governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT), AWS Cloud, and ITIL with 12+ years of solid experience in information technology systems infrastructure and a unique mix of both technical and business skills. Blogging about technology, movies, travel, and food!

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