Top 7 Most Common Uses of Cloud Computing

4 min read

What are some of the most effective ways to use cloud computing to achieve business goals?

Cloud computing has been credited with increasing competitiveness through cost reduction, greater flexibility, elasticity and optimal resource utilization. Here are a few situations where cloud computing is used to enhance the ability to achieve business goals.

1. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) delivers fundamental compute, network, and storage resources to consumers on-demand, over the internet, and on a pay-as-you-go basis. Using an existing infrastructure on a pay-per-use scheme seems to be an obvious choice for companies saving on the cost of investing to acquire, manage, and maintain an IT infrastructure. 

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) provides customers a complete platform—hardware, software, and infrastructure—for developing, running, and managing applications without the cost, complexity, and inflexibility of building and maintaining that platform on-premises. Organizations may turn to PaaS for the same reasons they look to IaaS, while also seeking to increase the speed of development on a ready-to-use platform to deploy applications.

2. Hybrid cloud and multicloud

Hybrid cloud is a computing environment that connects a company’s on-premises private cloud services and third-party public cloud into a single, flexible infrastructure for running the organization’s applications and workloads. This unique mix of public and private cloud resources provides an organization the luxury of selecting optimal cloud for each application or workload and moving workloads freely between the two clouds as circumstances change. Technical and business objectives are fulfilled more effectively and cost-efficiently than could be with public or private cloud alone.

The video "Hybrid Cloud Explained" provides a more in-depth discussion of the computing environment:

 

Multicloud takes things a step further and allows you to use two or more clouds from different cloud providers. This can be any mix of Infrastructure, Platform, or Software as a Service (IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS). With multicloud, you can decide which workload is best suited to which cloud based on your unique requirements, and you are also able to avoid vendor lock-in.

To learn more about how these options compare, see "Distributed Cloud vs. Hybrid Cloud vs. Multicloud vs. Edge Computing."

3. Test and development

One of the best scenarios for the use of a cloud is a test and development environment. This entails securing a budget, and setting up your environment through physical assets, significant manpower, and time. Then comes the installation and configuration of your platform. All this can often extend the time it takes for a project to be completed and stretch your milestones.

With cloud computing, there are now readily available environments tailored for your needs at your fingertips. This often combines, but is not limited to, automated provisioning of physical and virtualized resources.

4. Big data analytics

One of the aspects offered by leveraging cloud computing is the ability to use big data analytics to tap into vast quantities of both structured and unstructured data to harness the benefit of extracting business value.

Retailers and suppliers are now extracting information derived from consumers’ buying patterns to target their advertising and marketing campaigns to a particular segment of the population. Social networking platforms are now providing the basis for analytics on behavioral patterns that organizations are using to derive meaningful information.

5. Cloud storage

Cloud can offer you the possibility of storing your files and accessing, storing, and retrieving them from any web-enabled interface. The web services interfaces are usually simple. At any time and place, you have high availability, speed, scalability, and security for your environment. In this scenario, organizations are only paying 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.

There is also the possibility to store the data either on- or off-premises depending on the regulatory compliance requirements. Data is stored in virtualized pools of storage hosted by a third party based on the customer specification requirements.

6. Disaster recovery

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 that the traditional DR site with fixed assets, rigid procedures and a much higher cost.

7. Data backup

Backing up data has always been a complex and time-consuming operation. This included maintaining a set of tapes or drives, manually collecting them, and dispatching them to a backup facility with all the inherent problems that might happen in between the originating and the backup site. This way of ensuring a backup is performed is not immune to problems (such as running out of backup media), and there is also the time it takes to load the backup devices for a restore operation, which takes time and is prone to malfunctions and human errors.

Cloud-based backup, while not being the panacea, is certainly a far cry from what it used to be. You can now automatically dispatch data to any location across the wire with the assurance that neither security, availability nor capacity are issues.

While the list of the above uses of cloud computing is not exhaustive, it certainly give an incentive to use the cloud when comparing to more traditional alternatives to increase IT infrastructure flexibility, as well as leverage on big data analytics and mobile computing.

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