What is the cloud?
‘Cloud’ is an IT buzzword that means that your applications, services, and data are being hosted outside of your organization by a third party. It allows data to be stored and accessed from anywhere in the world without having to build, configure, or maintain physical hardware in your own offices or data centers. The cloud is an environment that is always on and should be accessible at all times.
There are three types of cloud to choose from:
- Public cloud: externally hosted environments
- Private Cloud: private environments
- Hybrid Cloud: a mix of public and private environments
What are cloud providers?
Cloud service providers (CSPs) are third-party companies that provide a platform for accessing and building within their globally dispersed data centers. CSPs generally use a pay-per-use model for access to these platforms. They are regularly improving and adding services to their offering to allow their customers the highest level of service possible.
Why use a cloud provider?
Cloud is becoming increasingly popular among application owners and developers as they are able to custom-build hardware in seconds, whereas before, it could potentially take weeks if not months to get full environments built. Unrestricted by physical requirements, you can enjoy flexibility, scalability, and performance.
Top cloud service providers
There are many different CSPs available to businesses these days. The current top providers are typically considered to be Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), and Alibaba Cloud.
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
AWS is the one of the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platforms, offering over 200 fully featured services from data centers globally. Millions of customers – including the fastest-growing startups, largest enterprises, and leading government agencies – use AWS to lower costs, become more agile, and innovate faster.
The Azure cloud platform has more than 200 products and cloud services designed to help you bring new solutions to life, helping you solve today’s challenges and create the future. Build, run, and manage applications across multiple clouds, on-premises, and at the edge, with the tools and frameworks of your choice.
Google Cloud (GCP)
Google Cloud supports open source, multi-cloud, and hybrid cloud, allowing you to use your data and run your apps on any cloud or in any environment. Their open cloud solutions provide consistency between public and private clouds, enabling businesses to modernize and developers to build faster in any environment.
Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI)
OCI launched in October 2016 with a single region and core services across compute, storage, and networking. Since then, Oracle Cloud has expanded to more than 70 services available in 29 cloud regions worldwide with plans to reach 38 total regions by the end of 2021. OCI offers relational, OLAP, JSON, and NoSQL databases, containers, Kubernetes, serverless functions, Spark, streaming, Jupyter notebooks, VMware – the range of cloud services necessary for nearly any workload. In 2020 alone, OCI launched nearly 400 new services, features, and enhancements.
Alibaba Cloud is a global leader in cloud computing and artificial intelligence, providing services to thousands of enterprises, developers, and government organizations in more than 200 countries and regions. Committed to the success of its customers, Alibaba Cloud provides reliable and secure cloud computing and data processing capabilities as a part of its online solutions.
How to pick a cloud service provider
Picking a CSP can be a difficult decision for many organizations. When looking to pick your first CSP, it is important to keep the following metrics in mind: does this CSP have the proper IT security certifications and requirements to keep my data safe, or does it provide proper toolsets for me to ensure security? Is the CSP globally diverse or have a presence in locations near to your customers and developers? What kind of service life agreements will be provided to ensure that my information stays available?
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