Demystifying Cloud Computing: A Simple Guide

Posted on
Dec 5, 2023
ATSI Content Team
ATSI Content Team
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It’s not an understatement to say that cloud computing has changed the way that America conducts business.

In the past, computing needs were met by bulky on-premises mainframes and later personal computers took on some tasks, but today we're witnessing a shift towards the cloud, where massive data centers house these resources and make them readily available over the internet.

“Cloud computing is the delivery of different services through the Internet. These resources include tools and applications like data storage, servers, databases, networking, and software,” explains Investopedia. “Rather than keeping files on a proprietary hard drive or local storage device, cloud-based storage makes it possible to save them to a remote database. As long as an electronic device has access to the web, it has access to the data and the software programs to run it.”

Think of it a bit like how individuals and businesses use electricity.  You don't need to generate your own power; you simply flip a switch and it's there, illuminating your home and powering your devices.

Of course, you need an energy provider to supply that electricity – just as businesses require a cloud service for computing resources.

“Cloud computing is a popular option for people and businesses for a number of reasons including cost savings, increased productivity, speed and efficiency, performance, and security,” says Investopedia.

Different Types of Cloud Computing Services

One of the big benefits of cloud computing is that it eliminates the need for businesses to invest in expensive hardware or manage complex systems – resources can be allocated according to specific needs, and costs incurred only for what is used.

Here are the different types of main cloud computing services, each of which offers its own distinct set of services:

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): IaaS is a cloud computing service model that provides virtualized computing resources over the internet. Instead of investing in and maintaining physical hardware, users can rent virtualized resources like servers, storage, and networking components. Key Characteristics:

  • Virtualization: IaaS leverages virtualization technology to create virtual instances of physical hardware.
  • Scalability: Users can scale resources up or down based on demand, paying only for what they use.
  • Examples: Amazon Web Services (AWS) Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines.

Platform as a Service (PaaS): PaaS is a cloud computing service model that offers a platform allowing users to develop, run, and manage applications without dealing with the complexity of infrastructure management. Key Characteristics:

  • Development Tools: PaaS provides tools, libraries, and services that streamline the application development process.
  • Automation: Platform management tasks, such as patching and upgrading, are handled by the PaaS provider.
  • Examples: Google App Engine, Heroku, Microsoft Azure App Service.

Software as a Service (SaaS): SaaS delivers software applications over the internet on a subscription basis. Users can access these applications through a web browser without the need for local installation and maintenance. Key Characteristics:

  • Accessibility: Users can access SaaS applications from any device with an internet connection.
  • Automatic Updates: Updates and maintenance are handled by the SaaS provider.
  • Examples: Salesforce, Microsoft Office 365, Dropbox.

Desktop as a Service (DaaS): DaaS is a cloud computing service model that provides virtual desktops to end-users over the internet. Instead of using local hardware, users access their desktop environment remotely. Key Characteristics:

  • Virtual Desktops: DaaS allows users to run their desktop environments on virtual machines hosted in the cloud.
  • Device Independence: Users can access their desktops from various devices, promoting flexibility.
  • Examples: VMware Horizon Cloud, Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops.

Comparing these four main types of cloud computing services again:


  • IaaS: Focuses on virtualized infrastructure components, allowing users to rent virtual servers, storage, and networking resources.
  • PaaS: Provides a platform for application development, abstracting away infrastructure concerns and offering development tools and services.
  • SaaS: Delivers software applications over the internet, eliminating the need for local installation and maintenance.
  • DaaS: Offers virtual desktops over the internet, providing users with remote access to their desktop environments.

Understanding these cloud service models helps organizations choose the right combination based on their specific needs and requirements. Whether it's the flexibility of IaaS, the streamlined development of PaaS, the accessibility of SaaS, or the remote desktop capabilities of DaaS, each model brings unique advantages to the table.

Understanding How Cloud Computing Works

Despite the name, cloud computing is not done in the cloud but occurs in giant data centers filled with computers, storage devices, and other technology and is managed by a dedicated team of experts.

These are the data centers owned by cloud service providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

You access these resources through a user-friendly interface or an API, just like you access any website. It's like having your own personal IT department at your disposal, 24/7.

“Cloud computing takes all the heavy lifting involved in crunching and processing data away from the device you carry around or sit and work at. It also moves all of that work to huge computer clusters far away in cyberspace. The Internet becomes the cloud, and voilà—your data, work, and applications are available from any device with which you can connect to the Internet, anywhere in the world,” says Investopedia.

The Benefits of Cloud Computing

Here are just a few of the benefits cloud computing offers businesses:

  • Cost-efficiency: Forget hefty upfront costs for hardware and software. With cloud computing, you only pay for the resources you use, making it a highly cost-effective solution, especially for startups and small businesses.

  • Scalability: As your needs grow, the cloud seamlessly adapts with you. You can easily add or remove resources on demand, ensuring your computing power always matches your changing requirements.

  • Flexibility: Work from anywhere, anytime. Cloud computing grants you unparalleled access to your resources, allowing you to collaborate with team members and clients regardless of location.

  • Accessibility: Sharing resources and collaborating on projects becomes effortless in the cloud. Everyone can access the information and tools they need, fostering a more collaborative and efficient work environment.

  • Security: Cloud providers invest heavily in security measures to protect your data. With robust security protocols and data encryption, you can rest assured that your information is safe and sound.

  • Disaster Recovery: Worried about data loss or system outages? Cloud backup and recovery solutions ensure that your business can continue uninterrupted even in the face of unforeseen events.

With its numerous advantages and growing accessibility, cloud computing is rapidly reshaping the way we work. It empowers businesses of all sizes to achieve their goals more efficiently and cost-effectively.

Topics: Cloud Solutions, Internet