We’ve all heard of the “cloud” and most people know that cloud computing means you need to use an internet connection to access software and services. However, there are many types of cloud computing that have different purposes and benefits.
The Main Types of Cloud Computing
When we talk about “types” of cloud computing, it can refer to two different things. One way to view cloud computing is to focus on the use of technology. Most of this article focuses on that, but first we need to discuss cloud computing in terms of architecture.
From this point of view, there are three types of cloud computing.
1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
One type of cloud computing offers data center resources on demand. You download and/or write all software. It’s basically like buying your own data center, except you rent the hardware.
2. Platform as a Service (PaaS)
If you want to develop applications in the cloud, but don’t want to keep your operating systems or development environment in the cloud, you need PaaS. They will provide you with the tools you need to build your cloud application or service.
3. Software as a Service (SaaS)
If you are not a cloud service provider or developer, SaaS is the most common type of cloud computing you will encounter. Almost every type of cloud computing we will discuss below is an example of SaaS and is aimed at end users.
4. Remote computer rental
If you need access to a computer in a data center, you can pay for exclusive or shared access. It’s exactly the same as using remote desktop to access your personal computer from, say, a tablet. The difference is that you don’t have to pay for the computer, you don’t have to maintain it, and all the other headaches of having it available to you 24/7 are taken away. paid for by someone else for a single price. .
This is a popular option for people who need access to certain types of hardware at some point or don’t want to constantly have a computer that needs to be updated frequently. For example, you can rent a mac cloud, or maybe you need a super-fast workstation to work out some numbers and then send you the results.
5. Virtual machine in the cloud
Using a virtual machine is a type of cloud computing somewhat related to the type mentioned above, except that you are not renting a physical computer. Instead, you pay for a virtual machine that works with many other virtual machines on the same physical computer.
For many users, the distinction does not matter and they will simply go for the cheaper option. However, renting a physical data center computer for your exclusive use means you get guaranteed performance at all times.
6. Cloud-native apps
A cloud-native application is an application that runs on cloud computing infrastructure and has been designed from the ground up to work that way. Running Microsoft Word on a virtual machine that you rent in the cloud is therefore no A sample cloud-native application.
However, the Office 365 Word application that you access through your browser is a cloud-native application. The same goes for apps like Gmail and most cloud-based services you use every day.
7. Cloud Storage
Cloud storage is a simple concept. Instead of saving your files to your computer’s hard drive or a local external hard drive, you save them using a cloud service on a remote computer.
Most cloud storage services are more than an external drive in the sky. Your data is stored according to international standards, which includes storing multiple redundant copies in physically separate locations. Cloud storage services also offer additional features, such as the ability to search your files or edit them in the cloud.
Examples of cloud storage include Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, DropBox, and Apple iCloud.
Social media has taken over the world. Chances are, everyone reading this article uses at least one of the major social media services, be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or one of the other big names. If so, you are using a cloud service. Even if you don’t think of social media as cloud applications, all of your data and most of the computing used with these services lives in the cloud.
9. Entertainment Streaming Services
Whether you’re listening to music on Spotify or watching the latest Netflix Original, you’re using a cloud service. While apps running on your device do some of the work, most of the heavy lifting takes place in a data center.
These services not only deliver content to your device on demand, but also dynamically adjust the quality based on your internet connection. These services also closely monitor what you do with the service, so they can make recommendations based on your personal data and that of other users.
You can also stream video games. You don’t need to buy a console or build a gaming PC, just pay to use a service like Xcloud, Geforce Now, and Google Stadia. They work with tablets, smart TVs, or just about anything that supports browser and controller. Cloud gaming is still very new, so not all bugs have been ironed out. However, if you have excellent internet connectivity, it’s worth a try.
10. Decentralized cloud services
From there came the idea of a decentralized cloud provider. The Graphite documents (now defunct) are perhaps the best known example. Graphite Docs worked a lot like Google Docs, at least from a user perspective, but it didn’t have a central data center. Instead, it used blockchain technology to house and encrypt user data. You get the productivity benefits of the cloud without worrying about privacy.
Graphite Docs sadly closed in 2020, but its source code is open source, which means anyone else can set up their own version.
There are also other decentralized application development options like stacks (formerly Blockstacks) which allow you to write “dapps” or decentralized applications that connect to blockchain-based currencies.
Live with your head in the clouds
While there will always be a place for your personal computer, it looks like the future will increasingly be cloud-based. As the internet finally spans the entire planet, we will see the cloud become the most important type of computing technology.
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