What is cloud computing?

Posted on: 28/04/2014

The internet is changing the way we conduct business and interact as a society. Traditionally, hardware and software is fully contained on a user’s computer. This means that you access your data and programs exclusively within your own computer.

Cloud computing allows you to access your data and programs outside of your own computing environment. Rather than storing your data and software on your personal computer or server, it is stored in ‘the cloud’. This could include applications, databases, email and file services.

A common analogy to describe cloud computing is renting versus buying. Essentially, you rent capacity (server space or access to software) from a cloud service provider, and connect over the internet. Instead of buying your own IT requirements, you are renting from a service provider, paying for only the resources you use.

Cloud computing has 4 models in terms of different access and security options. Before you move your data into the cloud, you will need to consider which model works best for your business and data needs.


Private cloud

A private cloud is where the services and infrastructure are maintained and managed by you or a third party. This option reduces the potential security and control risks, and will suit you if your data and applications are a core part of your business and you need a higher degree of security or have sensitive data requirements.

Community cloud

A community cloud exists where several organisations share access to a private cloud, with similar security considerations. For example, a series of franchises have their own public clouds, but they are hosted remotely in a private environment.

Public cloud

A public cloud is where the services are stored off-site and accessed over the internet. The storage is managed by an external organisation such as Google or Microsoft. This service offers the greatest level of flexibility and cost saving; however, it is more vulnerable than private clouds.

Hybrid cloud

A hybrid cloud model takes advantages of both public and private cloud services. By spreading your options across different cloud models, you gain the benefits of each model.

For example, you could use a public cloud for your emails to save on large storage costs, while keeping your highly sensitive data safe and secure behind your firewall in a private cloud.

The Benefits of Cloud Computing

  1. Achieve economies of scale – increase volume output or productivity with fewer people. Your cost per unit, project or product plummets.
  2. Reduce spending on technology infrastructure. Maintain easy access to your information with minimal upfront spending. Pay as you go (weekly, quarterly or yearly), based on demand.
  3. Globalize your workforce on the cheap. People worldwide can access the cloud, provided they have an Internet connection.
  4. Streamline processes. Get more work done in less time with less people.
  5. Reduce capital costs. There’s no need to spend big money on hardware, software or licensing fees.
  6. Improve accessibility. You have access anytime, anywhere, making your life so much easier!
  7. Monitor projects more effectively. Stay within budget and ahead of completion cycle times.
  8. Less personnel training is needed. It takes fewer people to do more work on a cloud, with a minimal learning curve on hardware and software issues.
  9. Minimize licensing new software. Stretch and grow without the need to buy expensive software licenses or programs.
  10. Improve flexibility. You can change direction without serious “people” or “financial” issues at stake.

How cloud computing works

There are 3 main types of cloud computing service models available, commonly known as:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS).

Depending on your needs, your business could use one of these service models, or a mixture of the 3.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

SaaS is the most common form of cloud computing for small businesses. You can access internet-hosted software applications using a browser, rather than traditional applications stored on your own PC or server. The software application host is responsible for controlling and maintaining the application, including software updates and settings. You, as a user, have limited control over the application and configuration settings.

A typical example of a SaaS is a web-based mail service or customer relationship management system.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

IaaS typically means buying or renting your computer power and disk space from an external service provider. This option allows you access through a private network or over the internet. The service provider maintains the physical computer hardware including CPU processing, memory, data storage and network connectivity.

Examples of an IaaS include Amazon EC2, Rackspace and Windows Azure.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

PaaS can be described as a crossover of both SaaS and IaaS. Essentially you rent the hardware, operating systems, storage and network capacity that IaaS provides, as well as the software servers and application environments. PaaS offers you more control over the technical aspects of your computing setup and the ability to customise to suit your needs.

Characteristics of Cloud Computing

Individual use on request

A user can use the resources when he desires, from any place and at any time via the global network. These resources include server time or a network space (physical space on storage devices) that is accessed without the need for human intervention from a client or the service provider.

Wide range of network access capacities

System capacities are available to customers through a network and can be accessed from different devices such as desktop computers, mobile phones, smartphones and tablet devices…

Allocation of resources

Computer resources of providers are grouped in order to serve a large number of simultaneous users. The mechanism of processing power distribution, or the amount of memory, operates in such a way that the system dynamically allocates these parameters according to customer requirements. The users themselves have no control over the physical parameters, i.e. resources location, but at some higher level of the system customatisation, Cloud solutions can choose where their data will be stored and processed (for example, geographical location of data centers).

The elasticity and flexibility of the system

Possibilities of cloud solutions can be available to the system user in a short period of time, if it is necessary. Let us suppose that our site is in the Cloud and that the traffic, in terms of the number of visitors, is similar every day. Then, let us suppose that one day, for some reason, the  Web site traffic rises by 100%. If the is site hosted on our own, private server, there is a strong possibility for it to simply “go down” and stop working  because of software and hardware limitations. In such cases, Cloud dynamically allocates necessary resources in order to ensure a smooth operation, and when the flow decreases again, resources are automatically restored to its original condition. The user is free to purchase additional resources and opportunities in any quantity and at any time.

Measurable service – payment pay-per-use

Cloud systems automatically control and optimize necessary resources depending on the needs of users and required types of services (disk space, power of processor, amount of RAM and so on). All these services are measurable and their usage is transparent, both for the provider and  clients. This is very important because the financial momentum plays a huge role when it comes to this new technology, especially for large enterprise systems and companies.

Cloud Computing Security

NaviSite Managed Cloud Services (MCS) offer you a robust, virtualized infrastructure deployed as multiple, secure clouds hosted in NaviSite’s data centers. The NaviCloud platform enforces security, privacy, and integrity of your applications and data. And NaviSite’s comprehensive, multi-pronged approach to security addresses physical, infrastructure, network, identity, data, and compliance requirements.

NaviSite MCS includes all the basic building blocks you need – virtualized servers, Windows and Linux operating systems, fast and reliable storage, speedy and responsive networking, and best-of-breed firewalls.

These innovative security services integrate seamlessly into the broader NaviSite hosted and cloud environments and are delivered through a customized offering based on the needs of the individual business customer. 

Managed Security Services Designed to Meet the Security and Compliance Needs of Today’s Enterprises

NaviSite, in conjunction with our partner, Alert Logic, a leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, offers simplified managed security solutions. These enterprise-class services are fully monitored and managed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These Security-as-a-Service solutions provide customers a predictable low monthly fee, and the service is implemented without requiring capital investments, unexpected expenses or the burden of managing staff and technology.

These innovative security services integrate seamlessly into the broader NaviSite hosted and cloud environments and are delivered through a customized offering based on the needs of the individual business customer. 

Security-as-a-Service Solutions from Alert Logic and NaviSite include:

Network Intrusion Detection and Prevention: Via the Alert Logic Threat Manager solution, NaviSite deploys network security in any hosted or cloud environment – irrespective of hypervisor and networking architecture – and identifies threats found in network traffic.

  • Vulnerability assessments are also available to scan internal and external networks from known vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities are categorized and prioritized based on severity with step-by-step remediation instructions provided.

Real-Time Log Flow Analysis: Utilizing the Alert Logic Log Manager application, NaviSite boosts real-time security monitoring or critical security logs – alerting users of critical security issues, in some cases even in advance of a breach.

  • Log Manager collects Windows event log, Syslog, and Flat-File logs. Three types of search capabilities are run for forensic analysis – full text search, “One-Click” filtering, contextual views. All logs are securely stored in redundant offsite data centers eliminating the need for local SAN.

Web Application Security: Through the NaviCloud platform, Web Security Manager delivers critical web protection and cost-effective management, as well as state-of-the-art firewall protection and blocking capabilities.

How Cloud Computing Works

The goal of cloud computing is to apply traditional supercomputing, or high-performance computing power, normally used by military and research facilities, to perform tens of trillions of computations per second, in consumer-oriented applications such as financial portfolios, to deliver personalized information, to provide data storage or to power large, immersive computer games.

To do this, cloud computing uses networks of large groups of servers typically running low-cost consumer PC technology with specialized connections to spread data-processing chores across them. This shared IT infrastructure contains large pools of systems that are linked together. Often, virtualization techniques are used to maximize the power of cloud computing.



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