A hologram of clouds connected over a city.

Understanding the Plethora of Cloud Services

What Is a Cloud Service Provider?

The rise of cloud services has marked a digital epoch that has changed the tech landscape across the world. With data everywhere, digital information, architecture, applications and storage have become the zeitgeist of what we now call the “digital age”.

Over the years, a cloud service provider has become the driving force behind the globalization of data. No longer are we limited to the physical, on-premise servers.

The past decade alone has seen a proliferation of cloud services and service providers, and we will walk you through the world of cloud computing and the plethora of services that are at your disposal.

What Is the Cloud?

Traditionally, devices are physically constrained to the data centers and servers that host them. These are the basic agents that provide functionality to the system’s software and storage.

Think about it like this: have you ever worried about the reliability of your system’s hardware? What happens if you forget to save the work over which you have been slaving away for days? Moreover, what happens when water damage destroys your laptop’s hardware?

How do you collaborate with your partners for projects when you cannot be in the same vicinity as them during a pandemic? Similarly, how can you have real-time updates on the progress of each collaborator when you are each working on your own systems?

The answer to all these questions is grounded (or rather, ungrounded) in the cloud. But what is the cloud? The cloud is very much like a traditional data center, except that it is purely virtual. This simply means that you can access programs and store data on a virtual data center apart from your system’s hardware. In this way, you will have access to your stored data regardless of what device you are using. All you need is an active internet connection.

A History of Cloud Services

Where It Began

Over the past decade, the cloud has taken the world by a storm. The expansion of both the computing capabilities as well as service providers has been exponential and continues to evolve.

The starting point of this digital evolution goes back to mid-20 century. Surprised? It's true that cloud computing has only recently entered the mainstream digital sphere. However, virtual computing is actually traced back to the 1950s. Back then, it was an integral tool for military efforts.

Originally, cloud computing and distributed computing was used interchangeably. Distributed computing later diverged into cloud computing. Although their premise is the same, they are quite different in their functions.

How It Developed

Access to computing power was very limited in the late 20 century. This is because it was unbelievably expensive (I am talking figures in the millions.) It was only in the early 21 century that personal computers were becoming increasingly integrated.

This meant that there was an increasing need to introduce mechanisms to bypass the constraints of physical servers. The strongest forces in this virtual digital environment were, unsurprisingly, Google and Microsoft.
However, the earliest provider of cloud services was actually Amazon. Amazon inaugurated virtual computing services for public use in 2006. Google Docs services, Netflix, SmartCloud and iCloud swiftly followed.

Where It Is Today

Today, cloud computing has become the benchmark of digital services. Market players are always looking for better and more reliable services. This means that there is a rich profusion of cloud service providers to choose from.

Who Is a Cloud Service Provider?

The cloud has become a commodity. Much like food is a commodity and restaurants provide you with this commodity in exchange for payment, a cloud service provider gives you access to the cloud.

A cloud service provider is a third-party company that offers cloud-based platforms. This includes Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services, whose services you may already be using on a daily basis.
IaaS, SaaS and PaaS refer to different cloud-based services. A provider can have just one service or a combination of all three of them.

Most Popular Cloud Service Providers

Today, there are a great number of cloud service providers available globally. For the scope of this article, we briefly look at some of the top contenders. These companies are reliable and easily accessible.

Microsoft Azure

Azure has quickly become a force to be reckoned with over the past decade. It is one of the most extensive and reliable cloud-based platforms out there.

Azure’s availability zones extend to 140 countries, making it one of the biggest global platforms to date. Azure supports multiple operating systems and frameworks, making it readily available.

Featured products include Virtual Machines, Windows Virtual Desktop, Azure SQL, App Services, Azure Cosmos DB, and much more.

Amazon AWS

AWS is one of the pioneers of cloud services. It is the most reliable and protected cloud-based service. Moreover, it offers an extensive infrastructure, including networking, computing power, content delivery and database storage services.

AWS is the ideal platform to build, deploy and manage websites with maximized flexibility, scalability and reliability.

Google Cloud

Google Cloud platform is one of the most popular cloud service providers. It is the leading platform used by companies, from small start-ups to large enterprises.

Products range from API Management to AI and Machine Learning, to Databases and Developer Tools, and even Healthcare and Life Science.

IBM Cloud

IBM Cloud offers a secure public and hybrid cloud platform. It has multiple products and provides various environments for your workload.

IBM is perfectly geared towards designing and creating next-generation applications. It has a selection of desired tools, data models and delivery models to cater specifically to your requirements.

In Conclusion

The contemporary digital sphere has become so expansive that it is a little overwhelming. But the thing is, that is exactly what the cloud attempts to tackle. It gives you control and agency over the digitized world.

At the same time, it is always good to have at least some rudimentary knowledge about these things. That way, you can avoid exploitation and data loss.

This article could not possibly capture the extensive world of cloud computing. However, we hope it served as a push in the right direction for all your future explorations into the amazing world of the cloud.