There are many uses of cloud computing that can offer significant business advantages to companies. Cloud computing is a computing model and set of technologies that allows consumers to access cloud services using the Internet on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Despite being a relatively new paradigm that came into mass favor only within the last several years, cloud computing is becoming more and more popular by the day.
From government agencies and NGOs to non-profit organizations and small start-ups, the various uses of cloud computing have proven effective in providing an array of solutions to various problems.
Infrastructure as a service
One of the most obvious advantages of the cloud is that you do not need your own hardware for applications hosted in the cloud. You can spin up virtual machines (VMs), Kubernetes clusters, domain name system (DNS) services, storage, queues, networks, load balancers, and plenty of other services without lugging another giant server to your datacenter.
Cost reduction is the most common argument for switching to IaaS. You do not need your own servers; you only pay for the ERP solution you need. You also save on overhead when you are not installing and maintaining your own hardware.
Even better, you can create and configure these cloud services using scripts or infrastructure as code (IaC). You can create complete environments automatically and easily clone an environment by filling in some variables. Although you can do this to some extent on your on-premises servers, it is easier in the cloud.
One potential pitfall is that most of these services still require maintenance. For example, you are still responsible for installing software and keeping both your cloud VM and the software up to date.
Platform as a service
PaaS is a step up from IaaS. While IaaS moves your hardware to the cloud, PaaS goes further by also moving most of your maintenance.
For example, say you need to run a service and a database. A VM can replace a server, but you still need to install the service and maintain the database yourself. PaaS solutions create a resource that runs your service, as well as a resource that runs a database. With only a few button clicks (or IaC), you have a service and database at your disposal. There is no need to install it or keep it updated, as the PaaS handles that for you.
With PaaS, you have less control of the system and hardware running your services. There are still plenty of plans to choose from, though, so compute power likely will not be a problem.
However, keep in mind that some accounting system need low-level system access, which is not possible in most PaaS solutions. After all, you cannot access the system or hardware. Also, if your application depends on a specific program installed on the server, PaaS is not for you.
While it is fast and easy to get started with PaaS solutions, there are some limitations on what you can run. When you need to install specific software on a server running your application, consider switching to a PaaS solution for those as well.
Big Data Analytics
Another important use case for Cloud Computing is Big Data Analytics. This allows companies to access large amounts of unstructured and structured data, which can be used to gain valuable insights. Many companies, large and small, have used this tool to understand their customers’ buying habits and create personalized marketing campaigns that convert them into leads.
The cloud has many advantages over other storage options, including the ability to access, store and retrieve data through an Internet connection. If you have an Internet connection that is scalable, fast, reliable, secure, and highly available, you can access your data from anywhere and anytime.
Companies can save money by only paying for what they use and not having to maintain the storage infrastructure. They can also store data either on-premises, or off-premises depending on their needs.
Cloud Computing offers cost-effective disaster recovery solutions that enable organizations to recover their data. This is a faster and cheaper process than recovering data from multiple storage locations that are located in different locations. This takes a lot of time and effort.
Backup data is often time-consuming and difficult. Companies will need to manually collect data, keep it on tapes, and then send it to their backup locations.
There may be many issues that data could inherit from the source to its destination backup site. There are many problems with the backup, such as the time required to load it into the backup device for further restoration.
This data can also be subject to human error and malfunctions. Cloud’s backup service allows companies to send data over the Internet automatically. These data are easily accessible and secure with no restrictions on storage capacity.
Test and development
One of the best use cases for the cloud is a software development environment. DevOps teams can quickly spin up development, testing and production environments tailored for specific needs. This can include, but is not limited to, automated provisioning of physical and vairtual machines.
To perform testing and development in-house, organizations must secure a budget and set up the testing environment with physical assets. Then comes the installation and configuration of development platform. All this can often extend the time it takes for a project to be completed and stretch out the milestones. Cloud computing speeds up this process with cloud-based development tools that make creating apps and software faster, easier and more cost-effective.
One of the top benefits of cloud computing is how it facilitates the DevOps process, CI/CD pipelines, and cloud-native advancements (e.g., microservices, serverless and containerization). These technologies have led to rapid acceleration and innovation, but also require a self-sustaining cloud infrastructure to support the hundreds of services.
Cloud data storage enables files to be automatically saved to the cloud, and then they can be accessed, stored and retrieved from any device with an Internet connection. Rather than maintaining their own data centers for storage, organizations can only pay for the amount of cloud storage they are actually consuming and do so without the worries of overseeing the daily maintenance of the storage infrastructure. The result is higher availability, speed, scalability and security for the data storage environment.
In situations where regulations and concerns about sensitive data are at play, organizations can store data either on- or off-premises, in a private or hybrid cloud model, for added security.
Disaster recovery and data backup
Yet another benefit derived from using cloud is the cost-effectiveness of a disaster recovery (DR) solution that provides for faster recovery from a mesh of different physical locations at a much lower cost than a traditional DR site.
Building a DR site and testing a business continuity plan can be an extremely expensive and time-consuming task with fixed assets. When built in the cloud, however, organizations can replicate their production site and constantly replicate data and configuration settings, saving considerable time and resources.
Similarly, backing up data has always been a complex and time-consuming operation. Cloud-based backup, while not being the panacea, is certainly a far cry from what it used to be. Organizations can now automatically dispatch data to any location with the assurance that neither security, availability, nor capacity are issues.
While these top seven uses of cloud computing are not exhaustive, it shows the clear incentives for using the cloud to increase IT infrastructure flexibility, while also making the most of big data analytics, mobile computing and emerging technologies.
Cloud computing is undeniably a burgeoning business, and there are several benefits to using cloud computing services. New businesses are increasingly migrating to the cloud, which has emerged as the best platform for software testing, creation, communications, storage, and installation. With all these uses for cloud computing and the benefits listed above, there’s no excuse you shouldn’t start using it in your organisation now to gain a competitive edge.