4 Types of Cloud Computing and Their Advantages

Cloud Computing
9 minute read

In today’s digital world, greater quantities of data are created, transmitted, processed, and stored than ever. Such massive data dependency means that organizations must rely on large-scale IT infrastructure to conduct their day-to-day operations. Enter the cloud. 

Rather than bearing the weight of sustaining their own IT hardware and networks, businesses can outsource this portion of their operations to large-scale providers that may be better suited for the task. The result of this cloud migration is that companies are not only better able to handle their IT environments, but they’re also freed up to perform the rest of their business processes more efficiently. And since so many types of cloud computing models exist, companies are sure to find one that aligns with their particular needs. 

In this article, we’ll examine the different types of cloud computing services that organizations can choose from. First, we’ll take a 1,000-foot view of what cloud computing is and some of the basic principles underlying it. Then, we’ll zoom in to show you what types of cloud computing are out there and what advantages they offer. 

What Is Cloud Computing?

Before you can determine which cloud computing services may be right for you, you need to know a bit about what the cloud is and how cloud technologies work. 

The term can be as hazy as physical clouds, but the cloud can best be defined as an entire IT environment that organizations use remotely, rather than maintaining on their own. Some components of this digital infrastructure include: 

  • Networks 
  • Servers 
  • Data centers 
  • Operating systems 
  • Hardware, software, and middleware
  • Application programming interfaces (APIs)
  • Mobile apps and software applications 

The term “cloud computing” means using cloud resources to run a company’s IT operations. Some possible cloud computing tasks include:

  • Data storage
  • Server access 
  • Networking 
  • Software development, usage, or implementation 
  • Much more 

From serverless computing to mass data storage, if it involves the use of host-based services to carry out your IT operations, you can consider it a form of cloud computing — and the remote environment that powers it is the cloud. 

Basic Principles of Cloud Technologies

Another key component in understanding cloud technologies is knowing where they come from and what options are available. 

To begin using cloud-based resources, organizations must purchase them from a cloud services provider (CSP), often on a subscription basis. Also known as cloud providers, CSPs are the hosts that own, manage, and maintain the components of your cloud infrastructure. While others exist outside of these, the most popular CSPs are tech giants such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud — leaders that are capable of handling your business’s IT needs. 

The types of cloud computing models that CSPs offer vary based on either the cloud type or the cloud services delivered. There are four types of clouds in cloud computing, with three types of service delivery, also known as shared responsibility models (SRMs). The three different SRMs are: 

  • Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), in which CSPs manage the hardware, servers, network, and other underlying infrastructure components
  • Platform-as-a-service (PaaS), in which CSPs provide the development environment that companies need to launch their own applications and manage their data as they see fit
  • Software-as-a-service (SaaS), in which CSPs manage all of the hardware, software, middleware, and application security for the company’s stack

Each SRM has its own level of CSP and customer involvement, but the other half of the equation is choosing between the four types of cloud computing that providers offer. Only then can organizations choose the right IT environment for their needs while implementing cloud computing best practices.

Types of Cloud Computing

There are four different types of cloud computing: public, private, hybrid, and community. They vary in their levels of accessibility, security risks, costs, and other factors, and each one carries its own advantages and disadvantages. Selecting the type that aligns with your business interests is crucial for making sure your cloud operations are a success, so make sure you understand the differences before you jump in. 

1. Public Cloud Computing

The most common type of cloud infrastructure, public cloud computing consists of a wide number of users accessing a host of remote servers that are connected to form a single all-encompassing network.

In the public cloud model, you’re allotted a portion of your CSP’s cloud infrastructure, with your data and other digital assets being stored within the environment. Think of it as renting someone else’s digital space and allowing them to take care of the maintenance. 

Advantages of Public Cloud Computing

Public cloud computing offers several advantages, primarily due to its versatility and scale. Large CSPs such as Microsoft and Amazon have the capacity to host a wide number of users simultaneously, regardless of their clients’ bandwidth or demands. 

The result is that public cloud computing models can likely provide the flexibility and scope of services that individual users will need. The mass tenancy coupled with threat actors’ intensified interest in targeting public clouds does make security a concern, but top-level CSPs should have the cybersecurity resources needed to ward off threats. And since threat actors are likely to attack both public and private clouds, choosing an established CSP may be the best security strategy available. 

2. Private Cloud Computing

While public cloud infrastructure allows a wide number of users to access the same remote IT environment, private clouds are reserved for individual users, departments, or organizations. A public cloud becomes a private cloud once it’s secured behind a firewall or with some other restrictive measure. Some CSPs have even begun installing bare-metal infrastructure components on-site, further blurring the line between the public and private cloud models.

Benefits of Using a Private Cloud

The main benefit of the private cloud model is that organizations own their entire IT environment, so all components are reserved just for them. This can potentially mean greater security since there are fewer users accessing your cloud, but that holds true only if you implement the cloud security practices needed to minimize your attack surface.

The other benefit of having all of your resources devoted solely to your operations is that your cloud will have the stability it needs to meet your fluctuating usage and demands. You won’t run the risk of bumping into latency or downtime issues, as you could when a large number of users all flock to a public cloud at once, so private cloud users experience greater business continuity since their stack is always devoted to them. 

3. Hybrid Cloud Computing

In an effort to deliver the best of both worlds, hybrid clouds combine the devoted resources of a private cloud with the managed infrastructure that a public cloud has to offer. CSPs offering a hybrid cloud structure implement a “pay as you go” business model, through which companies can keep their important data within their own on-prem infrastructure and send any excess to their public cloud. 

Advantages of a Hybrid Approach

The advantage of hybrid cloud environments is that they allow companies to maintain their own baseline security and resources while giving them the chance to scale up whenever they need to. If their bandwidth or data storage needs grow seasonally or scale over time, companies may pay for additional services while preserving their own private environment — and they can scale back down if their needs ever drop in the future. 

Another advantage is that companies using the hybrid cloud model are charged only for the services they use. Instead of being tied down to an arbitrary service level, organizations can purchase all of the services they need and nothing they don’t — all while preserving their privacy.

4. Community Cloud Computing

A subset of the hybrid cloud model, community clouds consist of a smaller number of users who have agreed to share the responsibilities and resources corresponding to their cloud. These users often have similar attributes, such as a shared industry or regulations, so they band together to manage their own cloud environment instead of sharing their digital space with just anyone. 

Key Advantages of Community Clouds

Maintaining your own cloud can be a resource-intensive task. Community clouds lighten this load by distributing the responsibility among users with common interests, simplifying everyone’s cloud maintenance efforts in the process. 

Another benefit is that community clouds let you share your cloud with a select number of trusted users, so you enjoy better security than what public clouds can offer. These organizations often share common industry standards, making them likely to implement similar cloud security policies, which can make your own compliance efforts that much easier. 

Considerations for Choosing a Cloud Type

Whether it’s the many types of virtualization or the different SRM policies that CSPs adhere to, companies have many factors to consider when they’re deciding which cloud type would suit them best. A few factors to consider are: 

  • Security: There are several types of security in cloud computing, so companies must decide how to keep their assets safe. 
  • Responsibility model: Whether it’s IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS, companies must choose which parts of their IT environment they wish to manage themselves, and which ones they’d like their CSP to handle. 
  • Cloud type: If companies can accept sharing their space with others, a public cloud may be best, while a private cloud is best suited for those that can maintain their entire IT stack with little difficulty. Those that fall somewhere in the middle may wish to consider the hybrid or community cloud model. 

Other factors, such as scalability and compliance, should also be a part of your cloud considerations — and whatever solution you choose must come at a price you can afford. 

Begin Your Digital Transformation With Consensus Cloud Solutions

From private clouds that allow for greater autonomy to public clouds that offer more flexibility, the many different types of cloud computing services available give companies access to the leading-edge IT services that their operations require. If those two extremes don’t fit your business’s needs, then in-between models such as hybrid, community, or multi-cloud offerings may provide the best of both worlds. Other CSPs configure their offerings according to the type of service they deliver, so the key is to find the cloud computing model that meets your needs. 

At Consensus, we offer a host of digital faxing solutions that align with whatever cloud infrastructure you choose. Our flagship product can follow industry-specific regulations, and it’s compatible with all cloud-based delivery models. Consensus’ tools can help you send digital faxes and assist with your document management processes, so request a demo today and see how we can help you.