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The Different Types of Cloud Computing, Explained

Updated: Mar 17, 2022

Not sure where to start with cloud computing? Learn the ins and outs of all the different types of cloud computing in this in-depth guide.

Over the past decade, cloud computing has come into its own as an alternative to traditional computing services. In 2021, 94% of enterprises have adopted one or more types of cloud computing services. Still, many businesses have yet to leverage this technology or don’t know where to start when it comes to picking a type of service.

Today, we’ll explain the different types of cloud computing while weighing their advantages and disadvantages. Then, we’ll offer our own recommendations on which type businesses should adopt, depending on their unique needs, so you can begin adopting your digital transformation today.

Cloud computing, explained

Thanks to its ease of use and cost-effectiveness, cloud computing has quickly reached mainstream status in a variety of industries. But before we can explain the different types of cloud computing further, we need to quickly go through a little refresher on what it is, and how it works.

Simply put, cloud computing allows organizations to access a variety of services, like data storage, analytics, processing, and more over the internet through a pay-as-you-use model. Basically, companies can “rent” the digital services they need, avoiding the kind of overhead costs typically associated with investing in their own infrastructure. Nowadays, there are a variety of different ways companies can leverage cloud computing.

The 4 different types of cloud computing

Currently, there are four different ways a company can leverage cloud computing. While each of these four types share a variety of similarities, they can differ in location and ownership. As the technology becomes more popular, those differences sometimes become obsolete, as we’ll show.

1. Public

Public clouds are created from IT infrastructure that’s not owned by the end-user. Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure are two of the most popular public cloud providers today.

When a cloud environment is divided among multiple end-users, it becomes public. Typically, these public cloud environments are located off-premises. However, in the past few years, some public cloud providers have started offering businesses the ability to access cloud services on-premise.

2. Private

On the other hand, private clouds are typically tied to only one end-user and are located behind, for example, a company’s firewall. Basically, if a cloud infrastructure is isolated to a single user or entity, it’s private. These private cloud environments don’t have to necessarily be located on-premise. Now, businesses can buy access to private clouds managed by a third-party vendor.

3. Hybrid

Here’s where it gets a bit more complex. Hybrid clouds have a variety of characteristics. At its core, a hybrid cloud is a single cloud environment that has been built from two or more other environments. These environments can be connected through virtual private networks (VPNs), local area networks (LANs), or wide area networks (WANs). A hybrid cloud could be made up of one public and one private cloud, two private clouds together, or another combination altogether.

4. Multicloud

The last type of cloud computing environment is a multicloud. Multiclouds are made from more than one cloud vendor and offer access to more than one type of cloud service. As such, all hybrid clouds are multiclouds, but not all multiclouds are hybrid clouds. This type of cloud computing is becoming more popular among enterprises looking to up security and efficiency within their cloud structure.

While your data won’t be stored in literal clouds, the sky really is the limit with cloud computing.

Types of cloud computing services

Within these different types of cloud computing models, there are three different types of services businesses can adopt. Each of these service models handles responsibility between you and your service provider differently.

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)

One of the most common types of cloud computing services businesses use today, IaaS allows organizations to rent cloud services like networking and storage from a third-party vendor. As an organization, you’re not obligated or responsible to manage or maintain the services or platforms that you use.

Software as a service (SaaS)

Software as a service gives companies complete access to a software product that you can use however you deem fit—without having to manage that software’s performance or upgrades. A web-based customer relationship management solution (CMS) is a good example of a SaaS. Your teams are able to work within that platform, while the vendor is responsible for updating the software.

Platform as a service (PaaS)

PaaS is typically used in application development. It’s a model in which businesses can gain access to combined hardware and software capabilities through a third-party provider. When it comes to developing things like databases and operating systems, PaaS makes it easy to focus on the execution without having to worry about installation or troubleshooting.

What type of cloud computing should my business use?

Ultimately, your business’s unique needs, industry, and size will help determine the type of cloud computing that would work best for you and your teams.

Most businesses today utilize at least one form of SaaS cloud computing, whether that be Microsoft Office 365 or Google Drive. If you’re in a technical field with a variety of IT needs though, you might want to invest in a PaaS solution that can offer you more in-depth tools.

Are there any disadvantages to cloud computing?

As with any technology, there are both pros and cons to using it within your business. While cloud computing offers flexible, often cost-effective access to important digital services, it also carries a few risks with it as well, such as:

  • Cybersecurity threats: Especially in the last 18 months, cyber-attacks have risen in volume and severity among certain cloud providers. In particular, the popularity of SaaS applications makes them a bigger target of these attacks. Regardless of what type of cloud computing service you make use of, make sure it’s with a provider you can trust with your sensitive data.

  • Network dependency: If the internet goes out at your office, you’re just out of luck. This can be a serious concern for some businesses who need to be up and running 24/7.

  • Lack of customer service availability: Similarly to our last point, if for some reason you’re experiencing issues with your cloud service after customer service hours, you’ll have to wait to get the issue resolved. This inability to be able to fix problems in-house can be a problem for some business owners.

Final Thoughts

Cloud computing is increasingly playing a role in today’s businesses; it’s an asset that can’t be ignored for much longer if you’d like to continue being a key player in your market. As generations get more technologically savvy, your company needs to keep up with offering new experiences on all digital platforms. Cloud computing can help with that.

If you’d like to learn more about the different types of cloud computing available to meet your organizational needs, we can help. Reach out today to explore how you can take advantage of cloud computing today.

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