What is Cloud Computing? Six Types of Cloud Computing Explained

What is Cloud Computing

If you’ve been paying attention to enterprise technology over the past 10 years, it’s impossible to have escaped hearing about cloud computing and moving to the cloud from an on-premise data center. But what is cloud computing exactly? Cloud computing is the centralized delivery of IT resources over the internet that can be used to provide data storage and processing power-on-demand.

However, there are many different types of cloud deployment models and services to know about. In this article, we’re going to look at the different types of cloud computing and what type of organizations they’re ideal for. But first, let’s take a look at what cloud computing is.

What is Cloud Computing? A Look at Cloud Computing in 2021 

As outlined briefly above, the term cloud computing refers to the delivery of computing services over the internet. More specifically, that means users can access data storage, databases, servers, and software on-demand over the internet. It’s a scalable form of computing because an enterprise can access services hosted by a third-party provider without needing to maintain those services on-site in a data center.

In recent years the cloud has emerged as a key stepping stone on the roadmap of most enterprise digital transformations. It is a future-proof, scalable form of computing that enables a company to leverage the potential of big data and IoT devices.

For many organizations, migrating to the cloud is now a top priority. A 2020 survey of 50 CIOs found that 68% of CIOS ranked “migrating to the public cloud and/or expanding private cloud” as the top IT spending driver in 2020. The long-term appeal of cloud computing has meant that the global cloud computing market size is expected to grow from $371.4 billion USD to $832.1 billion USD by 2025.

Types of Cloud Hosting 

Types of Cloud Hosting 

Not all types of cloud are the same. Though all cloud platforms offer IT services over the internet, they can be deployed in three different ways:

  • Public cloud – Where a cloud service provider delivers a cloud service publicly over the internet
  • Private cloud – Where a private enterprise owns and maintains a cloud service
  • Hybrid cloud – Where an organization uses a mixture of public and private cloud solutions

1. What is Public Cloud Computing? (What are the Benefits of the Public Cloud?) 

The public cloud is the most popular form of cloud computing that most consumers and enterprises interact with, where a cloud service provider offers a computing service, such as cloud storage publicly over the internet. Examples of public cloud services include Google Drive, Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute, IBM Blue Cloud, and Azure Services Platform.

Under a public cloud model, the cloud service provider owns all infrastructure, hardware, and software so the user doesn’t have to pay any upfront costs. At the same time, the cloud provider takes responsibility for maintenance and ensuring the availability of the service. The service is scalable, so users can purchase extra resources on-demand whenever they need them.

The main disadvantage of the public cloud is that an organization has less control over the infrastructure used by the cloud service provider, and limited options for customizing its service or configurations. At the same time, it also has to trust that the provider is implementing the necessary security controls to protect sensitive data.


  • Low hardware costs
  • Scalable
  • Disaster recovery
  • Automatic updates


  • Lack of control
  • Vendor lock-in
  • Less secure
  • Limited support

2. What is Private Cloud Computing? (What are the Benefits and Disadvantages of the Private Cloud) 

The private cloud is where an organization controls and maintains its own cloud computing infrastructure. Organizations using the private cloud will either host resources in an on-site data center or via a third-party hosting service. Entities like government departments, financial institutions, and large enterprises use the private cloud to build resources that match their unique requirements.

The customization offered by building a private cloud service is its biggest advantage. A company can purchase all the equipment it needs to support the services it requires on a day-to-day basis. By taking control of all infrastructure the organization can ensure that regulatory compliance procedures are followed, and that data is kept confidential.

However, greater control comes with the disadvantage of having to pay a large upfront cost to purchase and deploy cloud infrastructure on-site. Building a data center from scratch is very expensive so many companies make the decision to use public cloud services or a hybrid cloud model to reduce hardware costs.


  • Greater customization
  • More secure
  • Disaster recovery
  • Support
  • More secure
  • High availability


  • High cost
  • Need to maintain infrastructure
  • Difficult to scale
  • Requires specialist support to deploy

3. What is Hybrid Cloud Computing? (What are the Benefits and Disadvantages of the Private Cloud )

Hybrid cloud computing is where an enterprise combines a private cloud service with one or more public cloud services like AWS via a software solution, which enables the services to communicate with each other to share data and applications. Many businesses use hybrid cloud setups so they can host sensitive data in private cloud storage while still benefiting from the services of the public cloud.

In other words, the hybrid cloud is a very popular option for enterprises because it allows a company to use cloud applications from different providers on a mix-and-match basis. According to a Flexera survey, 87 percent of enterprises are using a hybrid cloud strategy.

The main drawback to hybrid cloud computing is that it can be difficult to develop a cybersecurity strategy that covers both the private and public cloud services a company uses. As a result, enterprises need to prepare well in advance of installation to ensure there are no security vulnerabilities on or off-site.


  • Cost-effective
  • Scalable
  • Greater security
  • Disaster recovery


  • High initial cost for private cloud
  • Can be complicated to implement

4. What’s the Difference between the Public and Private Cloud?

The main difference is that public cloud services are resources that are available to everyone, whereas private clouds are maintained through private servers that restrict access to authorized users. Public cloud users are all accessing the same pool of resources, thus the services are more general, whereas private clouds are customized according to the needs of the private company that maintains them.

Each type of cloud has its own advantages. For instance, the public cloud is cost-effective and easy to manage because the user doesn’t need to maintain an on-site datacenter, all they need to do to access applications and storage is to log in to an online portal. The lack of infrastructure costs makes the public cloud a great scalable option for enterprises.

In comparison, the private cloud is more costly as an organization has to pay to maintain a private server, making the model less agile. That being said, it gives the user the opportunity to create a solution to match their unique storage and computing requirements. As a result, it’s best for organizations that have specific needs or want to store sensitive data in a private cloud environment.

5. Hybrid Cloud vs Multi-Cloud 

Two phrases that often get used interchangeably are hybrid cloud and multi-cloud. While the two concepts are similar, there is a significant difference between the two. The hybrid cloud is where you mix the private and public cloud whereas the multi-cloud is where you combine two or more or more public clouds from different service providers.

For example, a multi-cloud environment would involve using a public cloud like AWS alongside Microsoft Azure. Another key difference is that hybrid cloud setups are designed to communicate and work in tandem, but multi-cloud environments are often disparate in nature due to the separation between public cloud providers.

It’s important to note that a hybrid cloud environment can be classified as a multi-cloud setup if it includes multiple public cloud services alongside a private cloud. In both instances, the hybrid cloud and multi-cloud are used to augment an organization’s cloud capabilities.

Types of Cloud Services

While we can break down cloud service types into public, private, and hybrid cloud installations, we can also categorize clouds by the type of service they provide. There are three main categories of cloud services on the market:

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – A cloud service provider grants access to infrastructure to a company on a pay-as-you-go plan.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) – A cloud service provider provides the infrastructure that an organization can use to build computing and storage resources.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) – A cloud provider offers access to cloud-hosted software that users can access on the internet without needing to install any software.

1. What is Infrastructure as a Service? and what are the Benefits? 

IaaS is a model of cloud computing that enables a user to provision and manage computing infrastructure like servers and storage over the internet. Under an IaaS service, a company pays to access infrastructure maintained by a cloud service provider and installs their own software on top of that foundation. IaaS is commonly used to build test and development environments, website hosting, data storage, web applications, and data analytics platforms.

Many organizations opt to use IaaS services because they are highly scalable. You can add or subtract computing resources whenever you need them without having to deal with the upfront costs of managing the hardware yourself. It’s highly recommended for enterprises that want to create new applications without building a data center.

The scalability of IaaS makes it ideal for deploying applications because it’s able to meet usage spikes. Smaller companies can create new applications and then upscale in the future without purchasing hardware upfront.

Examples of IaaS:

  • AWS EC2 Rackspace
  • Google Compute Engine
  • Digital Ocean
  • Linode
  • Rackspace
  • ServerCentral

2. What is Platform as a Service? and what are the Benefits?

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is a platform or development environment which users can use to build cloud-based applications. Essentially, it enables a developer to build an application in a web browser. A PaaS includes everything from servers and storage to middleware, development tools, database management systems, and business intelligence tools.

Enterprises use PaaS to develop applications in the cloud without needing to purchase software, or infrastructures like servers and databases outright like they would if they were to build those applications on-premises. It also enables geographically dispersed teams to collaborate on application development more easily.

As the Internet of Things (IoT) devices grow increasingly popular, it is likely that PaaS will be a critical tool for developing IoT-friendly applications and collecting data from local sensors.

Examples of PaaS:

  • AWS Elastic Beanstalk
  • Apache Stratos
  • Magento Commerce Cloud
  • Windows Azure
  • Force.com
  • OpenShift
  • IBM Cloud Foundry

3. What is Software as a Service? and what are the Benefits?

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is a form of computing where users pay a subscription fee to access an application online instead of purchasing and installing the software directly. Users can simply log into a SaaS platform over the internet and access their applications remotely. Email services like Gmail and Office 365 are examples of SaaS tools.

SaaS is widely used by enterprises because it enables users to access pre-built applications without the need for local installation. The cloud service provider takes on all the responsibility for maintaining the application.

In terms of enterprises, any company that wants to use a prebuilt service like Salesforce or Slack can easily deploy a prebuilt solution without needing to go through the long-term process of developing an application.

Examples of SaaS:

  • Salesforce
  • Google Apps
  • Dropbox
  • MailChimp
  • DocuSign
  • Slack
  • Hubspot

Cloud Computing is for Everyone 

Cloud computing is one of the most disruptive technologies on the market because it has the potential to enhance how a business uses its technology by offering on-demand access to important resources. By signing up for a cloud service and paying a monthly fee, a company can enable its users to access applications and data remotely so they can stay productive wherever they’re located.

Whether you’re looking at a public, private, or hybrid cloud environment, the core value of cloud computing is the same, and there are an abundance of cost-effective services on the market that suit everyone from SMEs to blue-chip organizations. Whether you want to use a single cloud application or store all your data in the cloud, there are plenty of providers on hand to assist you.

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