Cloud technologies are a trend that will stay with us for a long time and will only gain momentum in the future. Global spending on cloud services grew by 33% to reach $62.3 billion in the second quarter of 2022.
Previously, we stored data on computer hard drives or USB drives. Nowadays, cloud computing services have replaced that old technology. Thanks to the "cloud," users have access to their data ad do not have to take care of the operating system, and software they work with. The word "cloud" is a metaphor, representing a complex infrastructure that disguises the multiplicity of technical details.
In today's world, the cloud is the standard for data storage, management, and protection. WHY? Because the cloud is:
Convenience and Availability. Cloud computing provides greater flexibility by allowing access to data anytime, anywhere, which is crucial for offshore teams or companies with different requirements. One can access the cloud system through any device connected to the Internet, which is a big plus for facilitating the work of companies of various sizes and importance in a globalized world.
Cost reduction. Cloud technologies allow one to avoid the significant costs of purchasing and maintaining equipment and infrastructure. You pay only for used resources and services. Hence, you can use the budget efficiently and avoid spending on unused resources.
Reliability and security. Many cloud service providers deliver high levels of reliability and security. They have data backups, secure data centers, and intrusion prevention mechanisms. That ensures data protection and system reliability.
Access to the latest technologies. Thanks to cloud technologies, you can access the latest innovations and technological solutions without implementing and maintaining them yourself. Cloud providers constantly update their platforms and services, which allows you to use the most modern developments in your field of activity.
Collaboration and sharing. Cloud technologies make it easier to collaborate on projects and share data. Multiple users can simultaneously work on the same data, edit documents in a team, and communicate using cloud-based collaboration tools.
New opportunities for innovation: cloud technologies open broad opportunities for innovation and the development of new products and services. You can easily experiment with new ideas, scale your projects, and quickly implement new functionality, which helps your business compete.
TYPES of cloud computing
Most cloud computing services fall into five broad categories:
Software as a Service (SaaS)
It is a way of providing services and programs over the Internet. Instead of installing and maintaining software, we access it on the web, freeing ourselves from complex software and hardware management. Most SaaS applications can be run directly from a web browser without downloading or installing.
Software as a service is provided by various companies like Cloud9 Analytics, Salesforce.com, Cloud Switch, Microsoft Office 365, Big Commerce, Eloqua, dropBox, and Cloud Tran.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
It is a category of cloud computing that provides a platform and environment that allows developers to build applications and services over the Internet. PaaS services are hosted in the cloud, and users can access them simply through a web browser. A PaaS provider hosts hardware and software on its infrastructure. Thus, application development and deployment are hardware-independent.
The platform as a service is provided by companies like Amazon Elastic Beanstalk web services, Salesforce, Windows Azure, Google App Engine, cloud Bees, and IBM Smart Cloud.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
The basic idea is that the cloud provider delivers and manages the physical infrastructure, such as servers, network switches, and data storage. Users access this service through virtual resources that they can configure and use according to their needs. IaaS is a service where infrastructure, such as network equipment, devices, database, and web servers, is outsourced to businesses.
Infrastructure as a service is provided by companies like Amazon web services, Bluestack, IBM, OpenStack, Rackspace, and VMware.
Anything as a Service (XaaS)
Most cloud service providers today offer anything as a service that is a compilation (combination) of all of the above services, including some additional services. Such a service supports the idea that any technology, resource, or function type can be a service over the Internet.
For example, Microsoft Azure offers a variety of cloud services such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and data storage and analytics solutions; AWS is a cloud service provider that provides a wide range of services, including computing, data storage, databases, networking, and other infrastructure and development tools.
Function as a Service (FaaS)
This cloud computing service type provides a platform for its users or customers to design, compute, run, and deploy code or an entire application as functions. That allows the user to fully develop and update the code at any time without worrying about maintaining the underlying infrastructure. FaaS is one variant of a cloud computing environment called "serverless computing."
The most significant advantage is that the functions are launched almost instantly because the infrastructure of the serverless cloud environment is already ready to run them. Plus, it is economically beneficial because the cost of computing resources is based on the actual use of functions. Developers only pay for the time that their features are actively running.
An example of a popular FaaS platform is Amazon Web Services (AWS) Lambda, which allows developers to offload functions running on AWS servers without the need to manage the servers or the infrastructure.
How to choose cloud servers?
Cloud computing services allow users to rent computing resources from anywhere in the world. These cloud servers run 24/7 and power most of the internet we use today.
Cloud computing services work by storing information in various locations known as "data centers." A single data center can have thousands of networked computers, making these facilities very powerful. It also means that individual information stored in one place is then distributed across multiple physical devices, so it is not all stored in one place.
When choosing a cloud computing company, you should consider what you need the service for. Think about what problems you are trying to solve. For example, if your business processes data inconsistently, storing in the cloud can make finding and manipulating it much more effortless.
Also, it would be best to keep in mind what your business model is and what features are crucial and practical for your business. Although most cloud computing services offer similar services, you can familiarize yourself with their key features and decide which will work best for your company.
Top-10 Cloud Computing Services
AWS Cloud (Amazon Web Services) is a cloud platform from Amazon, one of the largest and most popular cloud service providers globally. AWS provides a wide range of infrastructure services, platforms, and tools for building, deploying, and managing different applications and service types in the cloud environment.
- a wide range of services, including computing, data warehouses, databases, networks, analytics, machine learning, the Internet of Things, and many others;
- has a global infrastructure consisting of several regional data centers. That allows one to ensure the high availability of your applications and services, even in case of failures or accidental situations;
- provides a wide range of tools and services to ensure the security of your data and applications. They have physical and logical security measures, including encryption, authentication mechanisms, access controls, and other measures;
- continuously implements new features, services, and improvements;
- 24/7 support is available to solve any problems or questions.
- provides many tools and services, thus, it can be difficult for beginners or users without technical skills;
- using AWS can be expensive, especially if great resource quantities or additional services are required. Usage charges are calculated based on hours, data volumes, storage volumes, and other factors, so you need to manage costs carefully;
- using AWS means depending on Amazon as a cloud service provider. If problems or policy changes occur, the availability and performance of your applications may be affected.
Google Cloud is considered to be one of the most convenient cloud computing providers due to its smart analytics and database solutions.
- a convenient cloud service with a simple interface;
- one of the security-oriented cloud computing services. The level of security is vital for cloud computing services, and Google Cloud attaches great importance to this issue;
- Google Cloud is known for its advanced technologies and tools. They constantly introduce new functions and services that allow users to use modern technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, data analytics, and much more;
- has an extensive global infrastructure that allows one to deploy their applications and services closer to users in different regions of the world;
- Integration with other Google services: Google Cloud provides strong integration with other Google services, such as Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), Google Analytics, Google BigQuery, and others. That makes sharing data and tools and gaining valuable insights much easier.
- Cost and pricing changes. Using Google Cloud can be more expensive compared to other cloud service providers. Customers also complain about frequent changes in prices for services. That can make budgeting and cost planning difficult.
- The Google Cloud Platform tutorials and reference documentation need improvement and updating.
- Google Cloud's reliance on a third party may not be ideal for some cloud users.
Microsoft Azure offers reliable and affordable virtual machines and storage accounts. It also has scalable cloud storage, practical cloud servers, and many comprehensive services for various needs.
- offers a wide range of services for any need - from computing and data storage to analytics, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), and much more;
- provides opportunities for developing hybrid solutions, combining the cloud with existing local infrastructure. You can easily extend your applications and services using Azure Stack, which allows you to use Azure-like services on your hardware;
- has deep integration with all Microsoft tools;
- provides a wide range of intelligent services that use artificial intelligence and machine learning. That includes pattern recognition, speech, and language services, recommendations, and others that allow you to use advanced analytics and automation capabilities.
- the cost of services may be high, especially for large volumes of resources or popular services;
- some users may encounter difficulties in setting up and configuring solutions in Azure. It has a large number of services and options, which may require additional knowledge and expertise for efficient use;
- some of the Azure services or features may be unique to that platform. That can limit or bind you to using Azure for those specific services.
IBM Cloud is one of the most used cloud providers. IBM Cloud focuses mainly on IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS services. Since it is a customizable platform, you can use it according to your business needs.
- IBM Cloud offers hybrid cloud management and migration. It is an open and managed cloud service;
- a data migration solution can improve the integrity of your data. In addition, you can increase the return on investment of your business;
- IBM Cloud easily integrates with many other platforms, making cloud computing functional. It works in close cooperation with other services and solutions from IBM, such as Watson, Blockchain, IoT, and others;
- provides access to intelligent services such as machine learning, data analytics, and pattern recognition;
- multilingual and support for industry solutions: provides solutions specialized for various industries such as finance, healthcare, retail, etc. These solutions have built-in functionality and a set of tools that simplify the development and implementation of solutions according to the specific needs of the industry.
- some users note that the IBM Cloud management interface and console can be difficult to understand and navigate;
- fewer services compared to competitors: IBM Cloud may have fewer out-of-the-box services and functionality compared to providers such as AWS or Azure;
- limited Open Source support: Compared to other providers, IBM Cloud may have less open source support and ecosystem.
Oracle Cloud is a hybrid cloud service that can be used by development teams and IT administrators.
- offers a wide variety of services, including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), and Data as a Service (DaaS). That gives users flexibility in choosing and configuring the required resources;
- has advanced technologies and optimizations that ensure the high performance of applications and processing of large volumes of data. For example, Oracle Exadata, designed for real-time data processing, provides high speed and reliability in working with databases;
- has a broad global network of data centers located in different regions globally. That allows users to deploy their applications and services closer to end users, ensuring fast access and reducing latency;
- has a huge network of partners and consultants who provide support and advice on using Oracle Cloud.
- the cost of using Oracle Cloud may be higher compared to other cloud platforms; some services and additional options may go for an additional charge;
- some users feel the lack of advanced services and features yet offered by other cloud platform providers;
- migrating existing applications, services or infrastructure to Oracle Cloud can be complex. This process may require additional effort, time, and resources to be successful.
Alibaba Cloud is a section of Alibaba Group, one of the largest Internet conglomerates in the world. One can use this cloud computing service independently. In addition, it offers hybrid cloud services as a cloud business. As one of the most used cloud computing companies, Alibaba offers various solutions that might meet your business needs.
- helps to create an auto-scaling system and adjust computing power according to traffic fluctuations;
- its underlying infrastructure includes a global virtual desktop infrastructure;
- one can transfer data from the local store to Alibaba Cloud. Cloud users can also migrate their e-commerce websites to public cloud providers;
- Alibaba Cloud has close integration with other Alibaba Group business services, such as e-commerce platforms (Alibaba.com, Taobao, Tmall), financial services (Ant Group), media and entertainment (Alibaba Pictures, Youku), making it easy to use and expand the functionality of your business based on the cloud platform.
- Its international popularity is somewhat limited compared to some cloud services providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure. Alibaba Cloud is even less popular in Western countries. That may affect the availability of support, expansion of functionality;
- Lack of detailed documentation. Some users point to the need to improve the user interface, help documentation, and resources for self-study and use of Alibaba Cloud.
Hostwinds is a well-known hosting provider that offers a wide choice of web hosting services and related solutions. Founded in 2010, the company quickly became popular among website and business owners.
- ensures the safety and reliability of your data by creating automatic nightly backups to avoid data loss;
- monitors your website 24/7, so if there is a problem, it will be solved at an early stage;
- provides 24/7 support via phone, live chat, and ticket system. They have a team of experts ready to help with any questions about hosting, server setup, security, and other technical issues;
- allows you to obtain SSL certificates to protect the website and ensure the protection of data transmission;
- it lets you build your website without coding with Weebly;
- unlimited databases, E-mail accounts, subdomains, and the latest version of cPanel.
- Hostwinds prices may be a bit higher compared to other hosting providers in the market. Some extra features and services, such as additional storage space or backups, may only be available for an added fee, which may increase the total cost of hosting.
- there are some limitations in Hostwinds shared hostings, such as limits on CPU resources or database size. That may affect users with large or demanding websites.
- sometimes download speed and technical support assistance may not be as promised.
Cloudways is a cloud hosting platform that provides support based on multiple cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), DigitalOcean, Vultr, and others. They offer tools to quickly deploy, manage and scale your website or application on cloud servers.
- you can independently choose a cloud service provider from various options (AWS, GCP, DigitalOcean, Vultr, and Linode);
- Cloudways makes it easy to scale your resources as your website or app grows. You can change server size, resources, and network conveniently;
- promises to load pages faster;
- supports popular platforms such as WordPress, Magento, Laravel, Drupal, Joomla, and others. You can easily install, update and manage your applications from a user-friendly interface;
- protects against DDoS attacks, and has built-in firewalls and SSL certificates for free. You can also configure additional security levels with the tools available;
- enables automatic backup of your website or application;
- 24/7 customer support.
- difficult for beginners because Cloudways is aimed at developers and technically educated users;
- some Cloudways features and configuration options may require using a command console and knowledge of basic Linux commands. It can be a challenge for users unfamiliar with the command-line interface;
- does not provide a free E-mail service or a domain registration service.
Salesforce is a cloud platform that allows one to create and deploy individual solutions, automate business processes, and integrate with external applications. It is a leading provider of cloud-based CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solutions, providing extensive capabilities to automate and manage various aspects of business, including sales, marketing, customer service, data analytics, and more.
- intuitive and transparent navigation panel, easy start, no need to install any additional programs, and no special hardware requirements;
- provides the ability to configure most of the functionality without needing to code. With intuitive configuration tools, users can customize workflows, generate reports, create custom fields, and add new functionality;
- wide selection of applications and extensions has an AppExchange marketplace where users can find the features they need and integrations developed by third-party developers. It allows one to expand the functionality of Salesforce by installing ready-made solutions;
- provides an extensive set of APIs and tools for integration with other systems allowing one to exchange data between Salesforce and external applications, create custom integrations, and automate business processes.
- it is not a cheap service, especially for larger enterprises or companies with special needs. The cost of licenses and support can be high, especially if you are looking for specialized solutions or customized extensions;
- some users note inconvenient interfaces and specific difficulties in setting up all add-ons to use the program as efficiently as possible; as well as certain limits for one transaction;
- integrating Salesforce with other systems or applications can be challenging. Users may have to deal with compatibility issues, integration limitations, and ensuring proper data exchange between different systems.
DigitalOcean is a cloud provider aimed at developers and startups. It offers simple and easy-to-use computing and infrastructure resources such as virtual private servers (VPS), data storage, and network services. It also specializes in quick-start virtual servers (Droplets) deployment and scaling...
- offers different types of virtual servers that differ in memory capacity, processor power, network bandwidth, and other parameters. That allows one to choose the optimal configuration for their project;
- offers high-performance servers with fast SSD storage for better performance;
- provides various network configuration capabilities, including virtual private networks (VPCs), firewalls, load balancing, and DNS management;
- ease of managing; the service delivers simple tools to manage your resources, including a web interface, command line, and API;
- price attractiveness: DigitalOcean offers a competitive price policy, in particular, for small and medium-sized projects.
- somewhat limited services: DigitalOcean aims to provide virtual cloud servers and essential services compared to other providers;
- compared to some other providers, DigitalOcean may have fewer integrated additional services such as monitoring, log management, or security. The use of these services may require the use of third-party tools;
- provides a limited level of support for its users, especially for low-cost or free plans. Organizations that need fast and priority support may require additional services or negotiations.
Today, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) remain the clear three giants in the cloud services market.
AWS is the most prominent player and stands behind Amazon's ability to support significant seasonal fluctuations in consumer demand. Being the first to enter the market with cloud services and persistent efforts to gain market share, the company has become a market leader and continues to innovate. Microsoft's Azure has become an integral part of Microsoft's strategy, and the company has the corporate history and products to support companies moving to the cloud. Google Cloud is the smallest of the big three players, but it has the might of an Android advertising giant behind it.
All the rest, and there are quite a lot of them out there, are generally engaged in providing software as a service, so they are SaaS companies. Among the unnamed currently popular cloud providers are Tencent Cloud (the second largest cloud service provider in China after Alibaba Cloud, which operates in mainland China, the United States, Brazil, Germany, and the Asia-Pacific region), Rackspace (specializes in infrastructure support and managed cloud servers for customers) and OVHcloud (a Europe-focused cloud service provider offering solutions including private cloud, public cloud, and web cloud services).
All providers have different options and characteristics for their cloud servers. Before choosing a cloud service provider, thoroughly research their functionality, pricing, geographic availability, level of support, and other factors that meet your specific needs and requirements.