Cloud computing explained

Across every industry, cloud computing is now the center of work and is soon expected to make up 95% of total data center traffic. Now that the cloud has matured and become one of the industry's most powerful assets, with everything from scalability to reliability, cloud computing services have become a cornerstone to business.

If you’re looking for ways to implement cloud computing, we've got you covered. Let's dive into some basics, the various cloud formats available, and how this technology works across different businesses.

What is cloud computing?

The term cloud computing refers to delivering services over the internet, usually with pay-as-you-go pricing

The term, “cloud computing”, refers to services delivered over the internet, usually with pay-as-you-go pricing. Cloud computing simplifies buying and maintaining all of the complex infrastructures that go into running data centers and servers while offering a range of other benefits related to cost, security, performance, and flexibility. It covers applications, servers, databases, storage, networking, and other resources.These on-demand services are provided over the internet. 

Most people are already familiar with the cloud in some form or another. If you've ever sent an email or shared a report with a coworker, you've probably used the cloud. It's also popular in consumer applications, including  streaming video and storing photos. But for businesses, the cloud plays a much larger role and is often foundational to everyday operations. It can support digital infrastructure along with customer-facing applications and daily business tasks.

The cloud leverages the power of the internet to expand capabilities. It allows businesses to store data offsite, saving valuable space and IT resources. Additionally, businesses can take advantage of the expansive resources available through cloud providers, which empowers them with technology that helps move work forward.

There are a few different types of cloud computing services, the most common of which are handled entirely by a third-party provider. That means a provider — such as Box — takes care of buying the hardware and software, maintaining the service, managing security and performance, and creating an interface that helps you work better, faster, and more securely. Teams then access the platform from any internet-connected device.

Top benefits of cloud computing

1. Easy budgeting 2. Scalability 3. High performance 4. Security and reliability 5. Better productivity 6. Business agility

The cloud offers numerous benefits for companies of all sizes. These benefits span across finances, growth, security, and functionality. Learn about the advantages of using cloud computing below.

1. Easy budgeting

Because the cloud usually runs on a pay-as-you-go model, you don't need to pay for the high capital cost of everything that supports business applications — no hardware, no utilities, and fewer IT requirements. This model transfers the service from a capital expenditure to an operating expenditure, which is often easier for budget planning, especially for smaller businesses that may not have the capital for a big technology investment. Using the cloud is more like a utility cost than an investment.

The cloud's cost benefits also come through less direct means, such as improved customer experiences, added efficiency, and potentially better security.

2. Scalability

With traditional on-premises data storage, when demand grows enough to justify a larger investment, you have to try to scale up as quickly as possible, which is usually a slow and costly process. But if you need to beef up your operations, most cloud providers can meet your growth needs immediately. In the cloud, scaling can occur with a single call to your provider — they simply expand your account services, and you can then instantly access them via the internet.

Should your business take you to new locations, cloud computing can also offer quick access to additional geographic areas. Global cloud providers with servers in other areas provide less latency and a better experience for operations, and you don't need to worry about buying space or assembling anything. Geographically dispersed server locations also make it easy to meet local data handling requirements.

3. High performance

For higher-end technology and security, look to a cloud computing provider

A cloud computing provider is likely to use higher-end software and conduct frequent upgrades and maintenance. Their business, after all, rests on their server performance and the quality of their resources. This type of care ensures you low-latency, reliable, secure access.

Often, in-house teams are stretched across many different aspects of IT. As a solution, cloud providers offer specialized expertise focused on delivering optimized service. The level of experience you'll find in a third-party provider is difficult to match in house.

4. Extensive security and reliability

Cloud providers need to create a secure environment for their clients' data. These providers have robust policies, technology, failsafes, and controls in place to protect data and infrastructure. This security should be enterprise-level, appropriate for meeting industry regulations and keeping data confidential.

Cloud services also offer reliability. A cloud computing service backs up data in multiple locations and provides a disaster-recovery solution. Should something happen to your physical office, such as a flood or fire, your files remain protected in the cloud. Therefore, employees can readily access the documents they need, even when they can't get to their desks.

5. Better productivity

Change computing services allow you to outsource system management to a third-party provider

Without a hefty management load, your IT team has more time to focus on business-critical tasks. If your cloud service includes an app, as Box does, the additional capabilities of a cloud-based environment can boost employee performance in a variety of ways.

With the cloud, employees can work from anywhere, enabling remote work and general flexibility. As a result, businesses can save on resources for remote access, while maintaining strong security and offering teams solutions for flexible schedules. Having tools for mobile work means workers who travel to site locations can complete their duties on a tablet or laptop — just like they would on a desktop computer.

The cloud also enables productivity through collaboration. In a traditional IT environment, people can't edit documents simultaneously. The cloud fixes that issue and allows users to collaborate synchronously or asynchronously. For example, Box users can work on a document at the same time, adding comments and tracking changes with thorough auditing. 

The cloud makes it possible to work together so you can take full advantage of everything a collaborative workplace can offer, like financial savings, creativity, and better problem-solving.

6. Business agility

The flexibility of the cloud helps organizations stay agile. Using cloud computing means they can deploy new technologies within minutes and offer strong performance to additional geographic areas. The on-demand nature of the cloud means time-to-launch is drastically reduced.

The cloud's scalability also transfers over to business agility. It's easy to scale up and down as needed. In some cases, businesses with seasonal fluctuations can adjust cloud services to meet demand and save money.

Types of cloud computing

Types of cloud computing - public clouds - in a public cloud, access to servers and devices is divided between multiple tenants, private clouds - the primary reason for using a private cloud is to have full control over the system, hybrid clouds - a hybrid cloud features components of both public and private options, so this is the best option for flexibility

There are a few different types of clouds on the market today. Each one has its place, and they primarily differ by who owns and manages the infrastructure. Here are the three main kinds of cloud computing available:

Public clouds

In a public cloud, access to servers and devices is divided between multiple tenants. Providers put in the work to ensure that these are secure environments and typically have information security teams at their disposal so they can provide security that's comparable to or better than that of a private cloud.

Box is an example of a cloud computing provider that owns, operates, and maintains a public cloud. We take on the cost and upkeep of the hardware, software, and other pieces of infrastructure. Gartner estimates that 45% of enterprise IT spending will be on the public cloud in the next year or so, making it the most popular cloud option. That's mainly because providers like us have the resources available for fast scaling and strong performance.

Private clouds

A private cloud is meant for one organization. It provides some of the benefits of a cloud-based system, like anywhere-access and cloud-native apps. However, the company pays for and maintains the hardware and software, so they might keep everything on-site or rent space and equipment from a third party. Everything occurs on the company's private network, making a private cloud attractive for organizations that handle highly sensitive information.

The primary reason for using a private cloud is to have full control over the system. Often, a private cloud is meant to achieve specific security needs. This level of oversight is often expensive and requires a strong IT team.

Hybrid clouds

A hybrid cloud features components of both public and private options, so this type of cloud is sometimes the best option for flexibility. For example, businesses might use a hybrid cloud to meet scaling needs when necessary or set up disaster recovery solutions, opting for a private cloud for specific apps. While it offers choices for data handling, a hybrid cloud can make policy enforcement difficult and create security inconsistencies.

Types of cloud services

Manage operations across locations and devices with exceptional security and visibility

“Stacks” are to different kinds of cloud service models. These services are all offered "as a service," meaning you pay for what you use, typically through a subscription. 

These models build on each other, adding more resources as you move along the spectrum. Resources are usually focused on your overall goal for cloud computing in your company. Those looking to build their own apps or programs can use the tools in an IaaS or PaaS, while companies that want to use pre-built apps are better suited with SaaS.

IaaS

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is the most basic option in which you rent infrastructure, such as servers, storage, and virtual machines. These "building blocks" of computing are useful for companies that want to develop their own applications and have room for scaling without worrying about larger fundamental components. This approach calls for extensive technical resources and skills.

PaaS

In a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) model, the buyer receives a bit more support. For software development applications, PaaS adds tools and services for developing, testing, deploying, hosting, and managing apps. These providers might offer web-based resources and a collaborative platform for multiple users.

PaaS creates an on-demand environment for quick app development that frees developers from worrying about underlying infrastructure. It can help speed up the process and enable collaboration, an important component of many design-focused businesses.

Serverless

This version of computing is similar to (and overlaps with) PaaS, with both eliminating the work of server management. A serverless provider takes care of setup and capacity planning, which are usually left out of PaaS. The main goal of serverless systems, like PaaS, is to simplify and speed up application development. A serverless service often offers automatic scaling and code that executes only when directed, offering greater flexibility and pricing based on usage.

SaaS

Software as a service (SaaS) delivers an entire solution via the internet. SaaS providers like Box take care of the underlying infrastructure and maintenance. In other words, we handle everything “behind the curtain” so all you see is the application, typically accessed through a web browser or app. This model is frequently used in everyday business applications and consumer apps.

SaaS products often don't even require any downloads. You can access them with a web browser, making them incredibly simple from an IT standpoint. SaaS is also quick to deploy, meaning you can implement your cloud computing service instantly.

Uses of cloud computing

Smaller organizations can start off on the right foot, with cloud-native infrastructure and a scalable solution that grows with them

Ultimately, cloud computing finds its way into almost every business. Most individuals use it in some way or another as well. Between emails, document editing, file storage, and streaming music and video, the cloud is everywhere. It's used by everyone from sales firms and manufacturing operations to governments, nonprofits, and health care providers. Businesses of all sizes benefit from the cloud.

Smaller organizations can start off on the right foot with a cloud-native infrastructure and a scalable solution that can grow with them. Medium-sized businesses can prepare for growth and optimize their processes for wherever the job takes them. Large enterprises can easily manage their operations across multiple locations and devices with exceptional security and visibility.

Common applications for the cloud include file management and backups. Most businesses have large amounts of data to store and manage, and the cloud eliminates on-site requirements and makes effective, compliant management possible. For similar reasons, the cloud is helpful for data backups, archiving, and disaster recovery. These methods often entail multiple storage sites and processes that keep your data safe.

The cloud can also accelerate analytics and software development, which benefit from extensive computing resources. Other applications include communication tools such as email, chat, and calendars, along with custom business apps. Some of the reasons an organization might turn to the cloud include:

  • Futureproofing: The cloud is only expected to grow, and cloud-native technology allows companies to stay ahead of the curve and scale as needed
  • Recovery and backup: Employing cloud access is a great way to store data where it can be recovered in a data-loss event
  • Accessibility: With cloud computing, users can access platforms in numerous situations from virtually anywhere
  • Centralized access: Platforms like Box bring  data sources together into a centralized, highly visible location for easy organization
  • Data analysis: Centralized access enables greater intelligence-gathering for more informed decision-making
  • Business agility: Without the upfront costs and long implementation process of traditional IT, the cloud adds flexibility for testing new processes and scaling
  • Collaboration: Because multiple users can access the same environment simultaneously, the cloud has more capability for collaboration

Whatever your main reason for turning to the cloud, it can be a comprehensive structure that allows you to address various pain points.

How Box meets all your cloud computing and collaboration needs

Box is a powerful content management platform run from a public cloud, relying on SaaS to deliver a wide variety of tools for file management

From the first steps of document creation and ingestion to sharing, collaborating, archiving, and automating, Box does it all. Our platform supports many file types, including videos, photos, presentations, spreadsheets, and design files. We offer an enterprise-level solution for organizations of all sizes with tools to fit your unique needs.

 Capabilities of Box include:

The tools available in Box are geared toward making the most of your data. Having built-in resources means you accomplish tasks natively within Box, allowing for greater productivity and security. All of these features come in an easy-to-use and intuitive interface. Plus, secure integrations allow you to securely use Box in tandem with the other programs you use every day.

Box is built to help you make the most of your content. Whether you work primarily with contracts, blueprints, invoices, design documents, or any type of media, we know these files are some of your most important assets. Box knows you needt your data to stay accessible to those who need it — and protected from those who don’t. We created the Content Cloud to support a host of features and capabilities geared toward efficient, secure, and easy-to-use content management.

Learn more about the Content Cloud today

Box consistently ranks as an industry leader and has become the go-to provider for more than 100,000 organizations. Box partners know we make the most of everything cloud computing has to offer, with scalability, enterprise-level security, and various performance-boosting tools. These enterprises use Box in a wide range of situations, from sales and consulting to healthcare and government operations.

Whatever you're looking for in your content management tool, we can help you find it. Box is flexible and highly customizable, so it can meet specific business needs and fold into virtually any workflow. Reach out to our team today to learn more about what Box and the Content Cloud can do for your organization.

Learn more about the Content Cloud today