What is Cloud Computing?

Posted on
Feb 10, 2022
ATSI Content Team
ATSI Content Team
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If you are old enough the term “cloud computing” may conjure up images of somebody shouting “get your head out of the clouds” after catching a co-worker daydreaming at their desk.

The reality of 2022, however, is that a lot of our work is actually being done “in the cloud” and if your business doesn’t have its "head in the clouds", it might be drifting away from the competition.

“Cloud computing has become wildly popular in the past decade as it offers an array of benefits for businesses—especially ones with large-scale operations that require a vast amount of computer system resources,” writes Forbes Young Entrepreneur Council. “Cloud computing services provide an affordable and secure way to store data and access it on demand so you're not losing money purchasing, storing and maintaining your own servers and data centers.”

Cloud Computing Not Just for Larger Enterprises

And cloud solutions are not just for large enterprises as small and medium size businesses can tap into the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of cloud computing.”

“Broadband internet access and the ubiquity of mobile devices makes cloud computing a viable option for small businesses everywhere,” writes the Business News Daily. “If your business relies on Dropbox to store files, uses Slack to facilitate communication within the company, or taps into Salesforce to manage customer relations, you already use some form of cloud computing.”

Gartner predicts that by 2025 almost half of spending across application and infrastructure software, business process services and system infrastructure will be firmly in the cloud, up from approximately 41 percent in 2022.

Defining Cloud Computing in Simple Terms

If you are picturing fluffy white cumulus clouds in your mind, then we need a simple definition of “cloud computing”.

ZDNet Editorial Director Steve Ranger, in his exhaustive guide to cloud computing offers a concise definition: “Cloud computing is the delivery of on-demand computing services -- from applications to storage and processing power -- typically over the internet and on a pay-as-you-go basis.”

In the early days of computing, companies typically had to purchase and operate their own infrastructure and data centers. 

“Companies can [now] rent access to anything from applications to storage from a cloud service provider,” writes Ranger. “One benefit of using cloud-computing services is that firms can avoid the upfront cost and complexity of owning and maintaining their own IT infrastructure, and instead simply pay for what they use, when they use it.”

Wait, Why Is It Called “Cloud Computing”?

Even before the Internet, in old Telecom network diagrams from the 1970s, clouds were used to signify hardware and operating systems that were not on-site but were elsewhere.

The modern roots of “cloud computing” were traced by MIT Technology Review in 2011 to a small office park outside Houston in 1996 where Compaq Computer executives were “plotting the future of the Internet business and calling it “cloud computing.”

Today’s cloud computing had its liftoff in 2002 when Amazon created Amazon Web Services. Others soon followed with Microsoft announcing Azure in 2008 and Google releasing a beta version of what would become Google Cloud the same year.

Types of Cloud Computing Services Available

Just about everything from basic storage to quantum computing can now be done in the cloud.

Working (and playing) in the cloud has become ubiquitous with everything from Gmail to photos on your smartphone to the Netflix movie you are streaming relying on cloud solutions.

“Cloud computing is becoming the default option for many apps: software vendors are increasingly offering their applications as services over the internet rather than standalone products as they try to switch to a subscription model,” writes Ranger.

Some core elements of cloud computing include:

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Fundamental building blocks of computing can be rented such as physical or virtual servers, storage, and networking.

    ATSI says, “IaaS reduces IT complexity, obsolescence, and costs by moving your IT infrastructure to a virtual environment. Virtualizing your colocation, disaster recovery, and storage infrastructure in public, private or hybrid Clouds can make organizations more manageable, secure, and scalable at a much lower cost.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): This layer of cloud computing includes middleware, database management, operating systems, and developer tools.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS): Applications, from companies such as Microsoft and Salesforce, are accessed by end users via web browsers or apps.
  • Desktop as a Service (DaaS): Desktops can be accessed from any device or location. ATSI says, “DaaS eliminates the need for software maintenance and makes purchasing and managing workstations simple and fast.”
  • IT as a Service (ITaaS): Tactical IT responsibilities, such as helpdesk, security, software updates, mobile device management, monitoring and more are managed by specialists in the cloud.
  • UC and Collaboration: VoIP, mobility, video conferencing, instant messaging, bring-your-own device and other tech can work together in the cloud.

“As IT becomes more and more strategic and critical in impacting an organization’s bottom line, companies look to the Cloud to decrease IT complexity and drive ROI. For some organizations, Cloud solutions can be more secure, predictable and scalable than on-premises solutions,” says ATSI.

ATSI has vetted cloud suppliers for each technology and has the optimal suppliers for specific verticals such as:

  • Automotive
  • Financial
  • Hospitality
  • Real Estate
  • SMB
  • Logistics
  • Enterprise
  • Retail
  • Healthcare
  • Insurance
  • Government
  • Education
  • Software

Contact ATSI today for help in implementing custom cloud solutions for your organization from our portfolio of 40+ approved suppliers.

Topics: Cloud Solutions