The global cloud computing market is on the rise. According to a recent report, it’s going to reach $623.3 billion by 2023. There are many reasons why more and more businesses are moving to the cloud. Many of them cite cost optimization, data security, and disaster prevention as their primary causes. But migrating to the cloud comes with some challenges too.
In this article, we dive deep into all of the most important advantages and disadvantages of cloud computing to show you why the solution has become so popular and what challenges it poses to teams looking to make the most of cloud-based resources and cloud services. Keep on reading if you want to find out whether or not your business should migrate to the cloud.
Table of contents:
- What is cloud computing?
- Cloud computing advantages and disadvantages list
- Is cloud computing the future of IT? Conclusion
What is cloud computing?
Before we dive into the advantages and disadvantages of the solution, let’s first explain what cloud computing actually is.
Cloud computing involves the provisioning of computer resources, usually within a pay-as-you-go model. These resources may include virtual machines, data storage, service architectures, databases, managed container orchestrators, and many others.
Today, the cloud computing market is ruled by three major players: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure:
- Amazon Web Services - AWS is probably the most well-known and largest cloud computing provider. It offers several almost 200 products for development teams on top of their computing and storage. These include AWS Lambda, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), or Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Engine (EKS).
- Google Cloud - This Google-run cloud computing service operates on the same infrastructure that powers Gmail, YouTube, the Google search engine, and other services. It offers compute, storage, and a suite of tools for team collaboration.
- Microsoft Azure - Developed by Microsoft, Azure supports various tools, languages, and frameworks. It allows teams to create, deploy, and manage applications. It’s particularly well known for offering specialized services such as data management, machine learning, and blockchain.
Apart from these three big players, there’s a number of other cloud service providers such as Alibaba Cloud, the largest cloud computing in China, or Oracle Cloud, operated by the Oracle corporation and offering an Infrastructure as a Service solution for running and storing applications.
Types of cloud computing
Cloud computing is constantly evolving, but we can distinguish four main types of cloud setups used by businesses today.
1. Public cloud
These services are offered by third-party providers over the public Internet, meaning that practically anyone can use them. Such services usually offer storage space and compute that is greatly scalable, allowing businesses to eliminate high costs since cloud providers are responsible for system management and maintenance. That way, companies don’t have to worry about running and maintaining their own data centers.
2. Private cloud
A private cloud is used by a single organization and is not publicly available. The idea is to prevent resources from being shared to achieve compliance and build a better security posture. That’s why it’s usually chosen by businesses that are subject to strict security regulations. Only authorized users will be able to access, use, and store data in the private cloud. However, this comes at a cost since the company owning the cloud needs to take care of both the hardware infrastructure and software (or outsource it to a third party).
3. Hybrid cloud
A hybrid cloud is a combination of private and public clouds that enables sharing of data and applications. Thanks to this solution, companies gain more flexibility and have access to more deployment options. At the same time, they can use the private cloud to optimize their infrastructure and security. Naturally, building the bridge between the private and public clouds requires a lot of expertise in this type of integration.
Gartner revealed that 81% of businesses are reusing more than one cloud service provider. This doesn’t come as a surprise - while AWS offers great databases, Google is known for its machine learning capabilities. Companies looking to get access to the best-in-class services choose to go multi-cloud precisely because of that reason. But that’s not everything. Multi-cloud is about developing an infrastructure where engineers can take advantage of different services to optimize costs, prevent disasters, and achieve higher availability.
Quick guide to cloud services
Cloud computing services come in different shapes and sizes, but you can roughly divide them into three different classes according to the abstraction level of capability offered.
1. Infrastructure as a Service
This offering involves virtualized resources such as storage, compute, and communication available on demand. Cloud infrastructure allows on-demand provisioning of servers running different operating systems and customized software. Infrastructure services are the bottom layer of cloud computing systems.
2. Platform as a Service
Apart from infrastructure-oriented clouds that offer computing services, here’s another approach: offering a high level of abstraction that makes the cloud easily programmable. This is known as Platform as a Service. A cloud platform provides an environment where developers can create and deploy applications. They don’t necessarily have to know how many processors or memory these applications will be using.
3. Software as a Service
Applications residing on top of the cloud are known as Software as a Service. These services are located in the layer that can be accessed by end-users through the Internet. That’s why consumers are more and more likely to use online software services instead of locally-installed computer programs. This model of delivering applications means that there’s no more burden of software maintenance for customers, which simplifies the development and testing.
Cloud computing advantages and disadvantages list
Benefits of cloud computing
1. Low upfront cost
When picking a cloud computing service, you don’t have to worry about any cost associated with buying, setting up, and configuring servers or building a data center. This is the primary reason why so many businesses are migrating to the cloud today.
With a wide range of cloud-based services on offer, all it takes is selecting the right service provider. You only pay for the resources that you use and store in the cloud. This allows for a flexible, scalable, and cost-effective solution.
2. High availability
Major cloud providers offer complex infrastructures that comprise multiple data centers scattered across the entire world. Thanks to this immense infrastructure, they can create robust and scalable services that offer outstanding availability and SLAs.
3. No management overhead
Cloud computing minimizes the infrastructure required to serve the customers. This means that you don’t have to worry about managing it to deliver your products or services. As a result, engineers can focus on writing code and deploying it without having to engage with operations infrastructure in the process. As you can imagine, faster deployment means faster time to market for your new updates and product features.
4. Faster time to market
In the tech world, timing is everything. By using the cloud, teams can focus on what matters most: creating new products and solving customer problems instead of waiting for their IT teams to provision new resources. The cloud helps to reduce the deployment of new servers from days to minutes, bringing you a much faster time to market.
5. Drive to innovation
Cloud providers offer state-of-the-art IT resources developers can access as soon as they need, so the business gets ahead of the competition. Companies use cloud capabilities to respond to changes faster and at a lower cost, building truly agile businesses ready for the demands of the modern economy.
As your business grows, you can easily scale your cloud computing solution so that it serves more of your users. You won’t have to deal with any overhead costs related to setting up and maintaining additional in-house servers.
7. Better collaboration
As remote work becomes the industry standard across many sectors and dispersed teams might work from different locations around the globe, using cloud-based solutions makes a lot of sense. By building your application in the cloud, you can provide employees with a robust and secure way to work together and exchange company data to become even more productive - even on the go.
Challenges of cloud computing
1. Initial migration costs might be high
Switching to the cloud is cost-effective over the long term. But every cloud migration incurs some expenses. Pay attention to the following costs:
- network costs – for transferring your data to the cloud,
- labor costs – to make sure that your applications are properly migrated,
- synchronization costs - related to ensuring that your data in on-premises systems is synchronized with the data on the cloud server,
- integration and application testing costs.
Note: Some applications might not be as ready to move into the cloud as others – for example, they might need some extra testing.
2. Building skills among developers
Cloud providers generally try to make their solutions as easy to use as possible. However, your developers might still require some training to become fully proficient. And like every training, this involves both time and money. Training developers to use the cloud means that they will have less time to do their jobs. However, this is an investment with future gains on the horizon.
3. Building a cloud infrastructure requires expertise
You need to engage an expert before carrying out the cloud migration. This person or team will have the necessary experience and knowledge to guide you in the early stages of implementation up until its completion. Choosing between different providers is very difficult. For example, Amazon Web Services offers 400 different EC2 instances. How are you supposed to make sense of that without any experience in AWS?
4. Downtime might still happen
With the cloud, you lose control if downtime hits your cloud computing service provider. That said, make sure that your deployment architecture is built with the option of temporarily losing the data center. This is smart disaster prevention.
Is cloud computing the future of IT? Conclusion
It’s safe to say that the most innovative projects happening in IT right now are in the cloud-native landscape. Containerization with tools like Kubernetes, DevOps trends and best practices like Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery (CI/CD), automation – they’re all here to help development teams become more efficient.
If you would like to make a move to the cloud environment for your organization, team up with an expert consultant to guide you through the process and help you choose the best cloud solutions out there.
At Codete, we have years of experience in providing advisory services to companies in need of cloud technology expertise and carrying out cloud migrations with cost efficiency in mind. Get in touch with us if you’re looking for help in building a truly modern business in the cloud.