There are many different types of cloud services to choose from and more than nine out of ten companies today use one or more cloud services.
The cloud is a virtual zone that almost everyone uses today. There we can perform tasks and retrieve information via suppliers who have their computers and servers far from where we are. There are many different types of cloud services to choose from and more than nine out of ten companies today use one or more cloud services. The fact that it has become a common and in-demand technology means that the supply is greater than ever. In the past, cloud services were primarily about data storage, but today many other IT services can be performed in the cloud with the help of services provided by third parties.
Here we will briefly describe some of what you can do with the help of cloud services today. We will give concrete examples and look at both some of the most popular cloud services on the market and a couple of interesting types of services that we believe have a future ahead of them.
The development has not stopped
Although many companies use cloud services, a recent study shows that companies that use cloud services still have 80% of their workload on their own computers. The cloud is still used for workload of a type that is not so demanding. As a result, it can be stated that there is still a lot of room for the cloud market to continue to grow. Many who believe in cloud services believe that the market may quadruple and that there is no reason for companies to continue to use their own local systems instead of cloud services. For example, there is no reason to invest in expensive workstations for a large number of employees if the services the stations are used for can be made available in the cloud.
Not least among authorities and organizations, there is a lack of awareness of how cloud services can be used in a way that streamlines work. Many distribution models for cloud services are completely unknown. In addition, there will be so many new cloud services that it is difficult to stay up to date on what values they can create in their own business. It is not least giants like Google, Amazon and Microsoft that are driving this development. Among other things, because they create opportunities for others to build on their services.
Different categories of cloud services
Cloud services usually consist of a combination of three different types of service models:
Infrastructure as a service, IaaS
Platform as a service, PaaS
Software as a Service, SaaS (Software as a Service)
A service model that unites all its cloud services is called XaaS.
A service model can then have hundreds of cloud services and be tailored based on the needs of an individual company. We will return to many of these services, but we will start by sticking to the three different service models.
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
IaaS is a service model that gives users access to IT resources and hardware that can be adapted based on a company's needs for storage and processing. It is a way to gain access to modern IT resources, including hardware, while someone else takes responsibility for managing, updating and, if necessary, troubleshooting the infrastructure. The applications and programs that the company or organization then needs are integrated into the infrastructure by one or more suppliers.
Platform as a service (PaaS)
Platform as a service is a model for cloud services that gives an organization access to hardware and software tools provided by an IT service provider. Such platforms are ideal for the development of programs, databases, operating systems, servers and applications. The advantage of Paas is that it becomes possible to work on developing programs directly, without first having invested resources in developing the infrastructure that is usually required for this.
Software as a service (SaaS)
Software as a service is a cloud service model that gives the customer access to a specific program. This is handled by the service provider. It is usually an end-user program that solves problems or creates opportunities for the user. The advantage of having software in the form of a SaaS solution is that someone else is responsible for upgrading, customizing and maintaining the software and the underlying infrastructure. The customer also does not need to have a server or other operating systems, but the program runs in the cloud and does not need to be installed on any computers.
An example of a common type of program offered as SaaS is client relationship management systems. Spotify and the search engine Google are also examples of this service which has had a huge impact. The programs can be open to a large number of users but can also be unique and needs-tested solutions for a specific company.
Anything as a Service, XaaS
Today, developments in cloud services are spreading in many different directions. Not all services and products fit into any of the three categories we have described here. Anything as a Service can be said to be a category that includes everything else that does not fit under the three standard categories. A number of abbreviations and designations for services appear. Desktop as a Service, DaaS and Artificial Intelligence as a Service, AIaaS are models for cloud services that can be multi-billion dollar industries today, or have the potential to become so in the future.
Different ways to distribute cloud-based computing
The cloud is a broad term that can denote several different distribution models that meet different needs and suit different users. The following ways of distributing cloud services have been used:
Other models for cloud distribution
In a public cloud, cloud services are distributed via the public Internet. They are thus available to anyone who has paid a fee to the supplier. They can also be free and available to anyone in principle. However, some geographical restrictions may apply. The supplier is responsible for managing and maintaining the service. The major players in public distribution via the cloud offer scalable solutions with a low initial cost. Google is perhaps the most important player today that offers a large number of services for distribution via public cloud. Security is considered high and it is difficult for someone unauthorized to access what a company stores via a public cloud.
A private cloud is not open to everyone. This is a way of distributing data services for a specific company, often via an internal network. The network can be handled by the IT department at the company or by the supplier. In a comparison with a public cloud, a private cloud provides a greater opportunity to customize the programs and services used inside the cloud. Higher requirements can be set when verifying identity in connection with someone wanting to get into the cloud. This is therefore a good solution in operations where safety requirements are high. The arrangement is suitable for larger organizations that have an efficient IT department that can invest resources in the management and maintenance of a private cloud solution.
Through a hybrid cloud, cloud services can be distributed via a public cloud and a private cloud at the same time. It creates an opportunity to have business-critical data and important resources that are more protected in the private cloud while others are accessible to more people in a public cloud. In a well-functioning hybrid cloud, data and various programs can be moved seamlessly between the public and the private cloud. The private cloud thus functions as a locked room that only some have access to in a larger complex that is more easily accessible. There can be several private clouds with different contents, which require different permissions, in a hybrid cloud. Hybrid clouds can be said to have the benefits of both private clouds and public clouds. It is also a more complicated service and it can be resource intensive to create a hybrid cloud.
Other models for cloud distribution
In addition to public and private cloud and hybrid clouds, there are many other ways to distribute cloud services. Here are brief descriptions of alternatives to the most common distribution methods:
Shared clouds are shared by several companies or organizations that share a purpose with each other. It could be about companies in the same city that want to offer cloud services to everyone who lives in it. A major advantage of common goals is that the costs can be shared by everyone involved in the collaboration.
A distributed cloud is created by computers that are spread over different locations but are connected to one and the same network.
A multi-cloud is composed of clouds provided by several different cloud providers. It reduces the dependence on a single provider running its service and can be a good option for companies that must have a guarantee that the cloud is always available. A variant of multimoln is called polymoln. They are used to be able to utilize specific services at different providers.
An HPC cloud is a type of cloud used by larger companies and research groups that work with "High Performance Computing". An HPC cloud helps to solve very resource-intensive problems in, for example, the pharmaceutical or oil industry, including through access to supercomputers.
What kind of services are available in the cloud?
Within each of the models for cloud services that we have described, the selection of cloud services is large. We are talking about hundreds, if not thousands, of services and new ones being added all the time. The pace of innovation is very high in this area. What used to be local services is increasingly moving into the cloud. Which selection of cloud services you get access to depends a lot on which cloud service provider or companies a company chooses to hire. Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure are three major players offering a wide range of cloud-based services. It is their offerings that we concentrate on here.
For those who are not already used to using cloud services, the range can feel confusing. We will therefore go through the different types of cloud services that are available today and which services are most popular, or have the greatest potential, within the different categories.
Cloud-based computing services
Calculations no longer need to be done on the company's local computers. If cloud-based computing services are used, the processes are run on virtual machines and you pay for the computing power that is actually used. A virtual machine (Virtual Machine) can be configured so that it delivers good results based on the calculation requirements that an individual company has. It is thus possible to choose between different operating systems, processor cores and the size of the connected storage. There are also cloud-based computing services that do not require a server.
Here is a list of some of the most important computing services of the largest cloud service providers:
Google Cloud : Compute Engine, Migrate for Compute Engine, App Engine
Amazon Web Services: Amazon EC2, Amazon elastic Container Service, Amazon Lightsail
Microsoft Azure: Virtuell Machines, Container Instances, App Service
Cloud-based network services
A company's network infrastructure is often crucial to the business. It affects security but also how accessible a network is, how fast it is and the scope of the cloud services. The various providers of cloud-based services compete with each other to be able to offer networks with higher bandwidth and a more efficient network infrastructure. Here is a list of services that can usually be included in a cloud-based network:
Content Delivery Network (CDN) - a method for distributing content via multiple geographic nodes to achieve higher speed and low latency.
Dedicated interconnection - direct access to the supplier's high-speed network.
DNS (Domain Name System) - a method for directing users to applications and pages.
Load equalization - a tool with which it is possible to distribute incoming traffic over several resources.
Virtual Private Network (VPN) - network that is not shared with others and made very secure.
Here are the key cloud-based networking services offered by the three largest cloud-based platform providers:
Google Cloud: Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), Cloud DNS, Cloud CDN och Cloud Load Balancing
Amazon Web Services: Amazon VPC, Amazon Route 53, AWS Direct Connect, Elastic Charge Balancing
Microsoft Azure: Azure Virtual Network, Azure DNS, Azure Content Delivery Network, Azure Load Balancer
Cloud-based storage services
Storing data in the cloud means using an infrastructure provided by the provider. Information, programs and ongoing processes are in the cloud and do not take up any local resources. Cloud-based storage services can be configured and scaled to meet the requirements of an individual company. The services are secure and can also have integrated functions for transferring large amounts of data to and from the cloud.
Here are the most important cloud-based storage services that the dominant players offer today:
Google Cloud: Cloud Storage, Durable Disk, Cloud Filestore, Data Transfer Services
Amazon Web Services: Amazon EBS, Amazon EFS, Amazon S3, data transfer services
Microsoft Azure: Disk Storage, File Storage, Blob Storage
Security and access services
There are many tools that aim to enable users to customize who should have access to different cloud services and how they should be protected. Different types of data in a cloud may have different security classes. There are also services that log activities so that it can be reviewed by authorized persons.
Examples of services related to security and access:
Review of activities - services that create a log of users' activities in the cloud that can be reviewed afterwards.
Services that strengthen compliance with rules - tools that have the function of helping the administrator of a cloud to track compliance with rules.
DDoS Protection - tool that prevents DDoS attacks and thus prevents the cloud from becoming inaccessible or having too long a response time due to an ongoing DDoS attack. These can otherwise be a recurring scourge for both companies and authorities.
Encryption tool - good data encryption is very important, not least in the cloud. Encryption protection not only protects information stored but data that is being moved to or from the cloud.
Firewalls - A firewall is a tool that prevents web traffic from exposing a network to risks. A firewall service makes it possible to centrally manage and regulate firewall settings.
Access management - a tool that makes it possible to manage user identities in the cloud and decide which users should have access to which functions.
Here is a list of some of the key security and access services provided by the three largest cloud service providers:
Google Cloud: Cloud IAM, Cloud Audit Logs, Cloud Security Command Center
Amazon Web Services: Amazon Cognito, AWS Shield, AWS Security Hub, AWS Firewall Manager
Microsoft Azure: Azure Active Directory, Key Vault, Azure Security Center
Cloud analytics services
For many companies, it is important to be able to draw conclusions about how cloud services are used. It can provide data that can be the basis for system updates. It shows what takes longer than expected, perhaps because the service is not described in a sufficiently clear way. These are tools that have about the same function as those that can be used to show and analyze how visitors to a website act when they are there. Different services can be used to visualize, process and analyze data in different ways. Good services for analysis of user activities in the cloud can have a positive effect on the business and provide information on where to invest resources to achieve increased productivity.
Many analysis tools are open source and are integrated into the platforms offered by the major cloud service providers. Examples of open source tools are Apache Spark and Apache Hadoop.
The following is a list of cloud analytics services offered by the three leading cloud service providers:
Google Cloud: BigQuery, Cloud Dataflow, Google data Studio
Amazon Web Services: Amazon Athena, Amazon EMR, Amazon Redshift
Microsoft Azure: Data Lakes Analytics, HDInsight, Azure Synapse Analytics
Database services in the cloud
With database services, it is possible to create customized databases that can be scaled and modified so that they always correspond to demand. They are handled by the supplier, which means a large efficiency gain compared to when a company on its own must create its own infrastructure for its databases. Providers of cloud-based services can offer different types of databases, such as NoSQL and MySQL.
The following is a list of the most important database services that the leading cloud-based service providers can offer:
Google Cloud: Cloud SQL, Cloud Bigtable, Cloud Spanner
Amazon Web Services: Amazon RDS, Amazon DocumentDB, Amazon Managed Apache Cassandra Service
Microsoft Azure: Azure SQL Database, Azure Cosmos DB, Azure Database för MySQL
New types of cloud services
The services we have taken up so far are primarily aimed at making it possible to build a basic infrastructure with the most important services. There are also a large number of more specific cloud services that can create great value in certain businesses but which are not something you need to have access to in all clouds. It is often about cutting-edge technology that is adapted at an early stage for the cloud or services that are cloud-based from the beginning rather than intended to be implemented locally.
Here are some areas where there is an exciting development right now and where we can expect more and more advanced cloud services:
AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning
Internet of things (sakernas internet)
AI and machine learning
Implementing tools based on AI and machine learning can require huge investments. It is not realistic for individual companies to be able or interested in doing so in the same way as Google and the other major cloud service providers. Cloud services of this type are affordable and can be configured to meet the needs of different companies, even if they are based on the same infrastructure.
This is an area where development is taking place almost explosively right now. Previously, services based on machine learning and AI were used mainly in the analysis of data flows, but now they are rapidly gaining more and more uses. This type of service can mean efficiency in everything from customer service to sales.
So-called chatbots are an example of a service based on AI and machine learning. A chatbot is a program that acts as a person in a chat regarding, for example, simple customer service matters. They also occur during sales when a potential customer visits an online store and can be expected to have roughly the same questions as most new visitors. Another service that is becoming more common is when AI is used to recognize images and speech. Like when you need to click on images that contain a certain motive to access a certain page.
Machine learning means that we get ever better tools for transferring speech to text. It has many uses, including the fact that information that is not structured can be quickly converted into a format that can be analyzed. Translating texts into speech via automatic services has been possible for quite some time, but only to a certain level. Services like Google translate can be used with good results for increasingly advanced translation services. Another area where machine learning and AI create great value is search services. A large amount of material can be indexed in such a way that an individual user gets tailored answers to questions and access to the right type of results very quickly.
The most important services based on AI and machine learning at the various cloud service providers are:
Google Cloud: AI Platform, Vision AI, Speech-to-Text
Amazon Web Services: Amazon Comprehend, Amazon Polly, Amazon Translate
Microsoft Azure: Azure Bot Service, Bing Custom Search, Machine Learning Studio
Blockchain (blockchain in Swedish) is a technology that provides the opportunity for secure and decentralized transmission of information in networks. The fact that the same information is stored on many devices in a network means that it cannot be manipulated without it becoming obvious. Cryptocurrencies are often based on blockchain technology, but the applications will be more and more. With the help of blockchain technology, it is possible to create, for example, large databases and advanced tools for cryptography.
Examples of blockchain services that can be used in the cloud:
Amazon Web Services: Amazon Managed Blockchain och Amazon quantum Ledger Database (QLDB)
Microsoft Azure: Azure Blockchain Service, Azure Blockchain Workbench samt Azure Blockchain-tokens
Internet of things
The Internet of Things is the part of the Internet that includes things that are connected. It can be anything from lighting to robotic lawnmowers and TVs, cars and hospital equipment. When you have many devices that are connected, tools are required that allow you to protect them and perhaps make analyzes of the information that their use gives rise to. Such solutions can be integrated into an Internet of Things service in the cloud.
Here are the most common tools that can be used to monitor and regulate devices connected to the internet of things:
Google Cloud: Cloud IoT Core samt Edge TPU
Amazon Web Services: AWS IoT Core, AWS IoT Button, AWS IoT Analytics
Microsoft Azure: Azure IoT Hub, Azure IoT Central, Azure IoT Edge
It's in the cloud it's happening! Very much, if not most, that was previously done in a computer in a physical location is today accessible from a large number of computers and via an infrastructure that allows very advanced services. The cloud can be accessed by anyone around the world with an internet connection or be a security-rated network for a small group of people who want access to the same data and services.