Cloud computing technology

The “Cloud”? Chances are, there are already users of “Cloud” services among those reading this article, perhaps for some without even knowing it. For example, if you are an iPad or iPhone user, your data is stored in Apple’s “Cloud” called “iCloud”. The same goes for Gmail and Android device users whose information is stored on Google’s servers.

What is “Cloud Computing”?

The term “Cloud computing”, in French “l’Informatique en Cloud”, refers to the servers accessible on the Internet as well as the software and databases running on these servers. The servers that reside in the “Cloud” are hosted in huge fields of storage servers, called data centers, that are scattered all over the world.

Data is deemed to be stored on a “Cloud” (hence the term “Cloud Computing”). Obviously, instead of being stored on your hard drives or memories, your data is available on remote servers and accessible over the Internet.

“Cloud computing” allows us to remotely access computer resources stored on remote servers: files, software or databases previously stored on local servers or on the user’s PC. These resources can come from your own data center or from a Cloud provider.

There are generally three types of “Cloud”:

• the public “Cloud”: accessible via the Internet.

• the corporate or private “Cloud”: only accessible on a private network.

• the intermediate or hybrid “Cloud”: a mix between the public “Cloud” and the private “Cloud”.

Advanced solutions and technologies such as The Internet of Things, 5G and Big Data depend on “Cloud Computing”.

How Cloud Computing Works

“Cloud computing” consists of outsourcing computer data to remote servers. Customer data is sent over the Internet to remote servers in secure data storage centers called Datacenter. The supplier is responsible for keeping the data of its customers in a safe place.

The “Cloud” works in different forms each with benefits according to the usage needs. The main services offered in “Cloud Computing” are:

IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)

In this model, only the physical infrastructure is outsourced. A company rents the servers and storage space it needs from a “Cloud” provider. The supplier supports the installation of servers, networks and data storage. In this way, the customer does not have to buy the equipment associated with these resources: he rents them from the service provider. On the other hand, the customer is responsible for its applications, its data and the operating system.

The IaaS approach can be compared to renting land by a company: the company can build whatever it wants, but must provide its own equipment and building materials. Examples of IaaS service providers include DigitalOcean, Google Compute Engine, and OpenStack.

PaaS (Platform as a Service)

PaaS includes the services of IaaS and much more. In this model, outsourcing involves hardware infrastructure, data and applications.

In addition to servers, storage, and networking, the provider also provides other services such as the operating system, database, web server, etc. In short, PaaS vendors provide everything needed to build an application including development tools, infrastructure, and operating systems over the Internet.

PaaS is  similar to renting tools and equipment to build a house, rather than renting one.

Examples of PaaS services are Heroku and Microsoft Azure.

SaaS (Software as a Service)

SaaS is the service best known to the general public. It includes full outsourcing, commissioning and maintenance. Instead of just installing an application on users’ devices, the provider takes care of the installation, configuration, operation and maintenance of the interface.

SaaS applications are hosted on “Cloud” servers. Users can access it via the internet and generally pay a monthly subscription and can then directly use the platform that the supplier makes available to them. This means that the customer no longer has to invest in servers and applications to host his data.

SaaS services are similar to renting a home: the owner maintains the home while the tenant uses it as if it were their own. Examples of SaaS applications are Salesforce, MailChimp and Slack.

To make use of this service, you subscribe to a formula that suits you and you conclude an outsourcing contract for your IT architecture with a provider of “Cloud computing” solutions (monthly or annual subscription). All your company’s data is then sent to remote servers in a storage center. To access, connect to the internet from your PC or smartphone (authentication required).

The operation and the services offered vary depending on the type of service subscribed to (IaaS, PaaS or SaaS). Various security devices (especially redundancy mechanisms) make it possible to avoid a service interruption that could lead to data loss.

Delegating all these tasks allows companies to fully dedicate themselves to their core business while guaranteeing maximum protection of their data and applications (including messaging).

Advantages of the “Cloud”

The “Cloud” offers many advantages:

• One of the main advantages of “Cloud Computing” is that users can access many services available online without having to carry the weight of an expensive infrastructure. The use of “Cloud Computing” enables users and businesses to free themselves from the need to manage physical servers themselves or run software applications on their own equipment, saving money by minimizing IT infrastructure costs.

In addition, the subscription to “Cloud Computing” services prevents the Company from purchasing IT resources and requiring a depreciation period.

• The “Cloud” also gives users access to the same files and applications from almost anywhere and any device by the people authorized to access them. This is because computer processes and storage take place on servers in a data center and not locally on the user’s computer, provided you have internet, of course.

• And finally, the backup of your data is implicit because it is no longer stored locally. So that even if your device goes down, you can always recover your data available on the “Cloud” by connecting to your account.

This way, a user, whose phone has stopped working, can log into their Facebook and Instagram account from a new phone and still find their account active with all their photos, videos, and chat history. The same goes for “Cloud” email providers such as Gmail or Microsoft Office 365 and “Cloud” storage providers such as Dropbox or Google Drive.

Disadvantages of the “Cloud”

• With the “Cloud” the user is extremely dependent on access to the internet network because the principle of the “Cloud” implies that the data is only accessible online.

• Apart from the access to the network, the user of a “Cloud Computing” service is also very dependent on the quality of the network to access this service. Indeed, it is difficult to access data available on the “Cloud” in the event of a network failure or if you are in a place with poor or no network coverage or in the event of natural hazards such as bad weather affecting the disrupt access to data.

• Storing your data on the “Cloud” implies reliance on the service manager with no guarantees (other than contractual) that it will not be used or resold for commercial purposes.

• Data security should also be considered as it is possible for talented hackers to hack into the storage servers of individuals or large companies to gain access to confidential information.