Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Computing: A Beginner’s Guide to Cloud Types, Solutions and Vendors

Cloud Types

Technology encompasses nearly every aspect of our lives, prompting a migration toward virtualization in the form of cloud computing. With this shift to cloud technologies IT pros are wondering which types of cloud services make sense for their organizations. If you’re asking WTF is the cloud and what are my options, keep reading for a breakdown of cloud types, cloud solutions and the basics you need to know to bring cloud computing to your organization.


4 Cloud Types

Before you can implement a cloud solution, you need to determine which cloud type makes the most sense for your organization. What are the differences between the most common cloud types?

Public Cloud

1. Public Cloud

A public cloud solution utilizes services offered by a cloud service provider. In a public cloud architecture, a cloud service provider supplies the infrastructure, and various clients access the resources through multi-tenant hosting. This cloud solution allows clients to share hardware components, while dedicating memory, storage and other resources to the individual organizations.

The public cloud is advantageous because it is typically available at a lower cost. The main drawback is the security concerns of sharing hardware equipment with others. Public clouds are popular among smaller organizations that don’t have the capacity for internal manpower to manage dedicated hardware.

Private Cloud

2. Private Cloud

The private cloud is a cloud structure that allows you to set up your own private centralized data center. This infrastructure provides all the necessary computing components for geographically separated offices.

A private cloud solution offers the benefits of a centralized data center that is internally managed and controlled, but it is accessible by users in various locations. The drawback to a private cloud solution is the large expense of the necessary infrastructure and the staff needed to maintain and manage the data center.

Private clouds are ideal for organizations that operate in highly regulated industries, such as financial institutions or health care organizations.

Hybrid Cloud

3. Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid clouds are aptly named. This cloud solution is a marriage between public clouds and private clouds. With a hybrid cloud, organizations utilize the cost-effective resources of the public cloud, while maintaining some on-premises data centers.

The hybrid cloud allows organizations to take full advantage of the business benefits and cost savings of the public cloud, while keeping sensitive or regulated information secure on dedicated hardware. Hybrid clouds can be utilized by organizations of all sizes and are often selected for their flexibility.

Community Cloud

4. Community Cloud

This cloud architecture is similar to a public cloud because it allows for the sharing of resources. A community cloud is structured for multitenancy, but the structure specifically supports groups with similar needs, concerns or services. Community clouds can be provided by cloud service providers or might be started by a concerned organization.

A good example of a community cloud would be a group of health care providers acting to comply with HIPAA regulations.

Determining the type of cloud you need is a good first step. But before you can move to migration, you will need to ascertain your cloud service options.


Common Types of Cloud Services

Cloud services is an overarching term that refers to the different offerings available from selected providers. Cloud services range in price and complexity and are available from a variety of providers.

Cloud Services Table

The following are examples of cloud services:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
    SaaS is software, an app or a set of apps that are delivered to end users via the internet. Common examples include Office 365 and QuickBooks Online.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS)
    This cloud service involves an application-development platform offered to developers or organizations that includes computing, memory, storage, database and other app services. PaaS can be used to develop software for internal use or offered for sale.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
    IaaS provides computing, memory, storage, networking and related software as a cloud service to replace conventional on-premises hardware.

Other lesser-known cloud services include graphics as a service (GaaS), desktop as a service (DaaS) and disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS), among others.


Determining a Structure for Your Cloud Deployment

Before you can plan a cloud migration, it’s also important to understand cloud architecture and how it will affect your cloud computing needs.

Cloud solutions can be designed in three ways:

Structure of Cloud Development
  • Single-Server Cloud Architecture: A single server is often utilized by small businesses to process and store all data, eliminating the need for a dedicated team and on-premises infrastructure. This kind of cloud solution offers the benefits of the cloud without a large investment. A single-server cloud solution is ideal for small organizations that require minimal apps and are looking to keep management simple and costs low.
  • Single-Cloud Architecture: As businesses grow and expand, their data processing and storage needs change. In a single-cloud solution, one cloud service provider furnishes all apps and cloud services under a single umbrella. On the plus side of single-cloud deployments, the cloud service provider generally provides APIs and tools that allow businesses to integrate various services on one platform, offering a streamlined user experience. This is common with large providers, which offer associated services such as email or productivity suites. The downside of a single-cloud solution is vendor limitations. When organizations opt for a single-cloud structure, they risk locking themselves in with a single vendor, leaving them subject to cloud service provider outages. Also, if a needed service or app is retired, businesses may be forced to seek an alternate cloud solution or new provider.
  • Multi-Cloud Architecture: Multi-cloud solutions are quickly becoming the default option. A multi-cloud structure is a flexible solution where organizations select services from multiple cloud vendors. The upside is that organizations can select the services that are most beneficial to them. The downside is that these services often require additional configuration to communicate with each other and end users be able to use the tools of various platforms.

After determining a cloud structure, you need to decide which cloud service provider has what you need.

Cloud Solution Providers

Cloud Solutions and Service Providers

Businesses often seek to find the best cloud solution to fit their unique organizational needs. A large part of this decision is selecting a cloud service provider. There are four primary cloud service providers that control the majority of global cloud resources. However, there are other lesser known cloud solutions that offer specific services to niche markets.

The four most widely used cloud service providers all offer SaaS, PaaS, IaaS and many other cloud services on a global scale.

The major cloud service providers include:

  • Google Cloud Services
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • IBM Cloud
Cloud Comparison Table

Learn more about the major cloud vendors.

Some other cloud solutions offering specific services include the following:

  • Heroku: Large provider of PaaS cloud services, including app development, deployment, management and scaling.
  • GitHub: A large version-control repository service used for collaborative app development. Developers and managers can review code, manage projects and build software as joint effort.
  • QuickBooks Online: SaaS version of accounting software offered by QuickBooks.
  • BackBlaze: Provides a cloud service of data backup and recovery for personal and business use.
  • ClearDATA: Provides cloud solutions specific to the healthcare industry. Designed to help institutions comply with industry regulations.

This is merely scratching the surface of the various cloud solutions that are available. However, these cloud service providers offer a solid base for understanding what kind of services are available.

No two businesses are the same. Before launching a cloud deployment, make sure you fully understand the options available to you and how different cloud solutions will impact your organization.


Cloud Training and Certification

If you see yourself moving into a cloud job like cloud specialist, cloud engineer or even data center manager, check out CompTIA Cloud+ to make sure you have the skills employers are looking for. CompTIA Cloud+ validates the skills and abilities you need to implement and manage a successful cloud solution.

Cloud Training and Certification

CompTIA Cloud+ is the only vendor-neutral, performance-based IT certification that views cloud computing as it relates to the broader ecosystem of IT operations.

This IT certification covers topics such as configuring and deploying cloud solutions and maintaining, managing and troubleshooting a secure cloud computing environment.

The Official CompTIA Cloud+ Study Guide and classes offered by CompTIA training partners can help you get the knowledge you need for a successful career in cloud computing. Download the CompTIA Cloud+ exam objectives to see what’s on the exam, and purchase the study guide to begin your training.


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