Cloud computing has long since become the norm for the 21st century technology landscape – nothing is possible without it, period. As an agency that specializes in software outsourcing in Sri Lanka, we realize just how indispensable cloud computing is; after all, it is the sole medium that has been keeping businesses afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, as enterprise software vendors have been able to facilitate a plethora of SaaS-based offerings for enabling remote work. While the pandemic has further upped the demand and momentum of cloud computing, it has been an integral foundation for technologies that are thriving today. From the regular file sharing service to a fully-fledged application development environment, the cloud is now a space that is crucial for keeping even basic duties functioning optimally.
While cloud computing is a topic of interest, and many speak of it in ways they comprehend (mostly depending on their own experiences), it is a great idea to go back to the ABCs of what the cloud is all about – what it constitutes, how it functions, how it is gradually evolving and so much more. Here we cover the fundamentals of cloud computing architecture, and how it impacts businesses both big and small. Consisting of front-end and back-end architecture (together with the internet to facilitate transmission and collaboration), the components of cloud computing architecture are varied and extensive – which we explain in detail, below.
Being a component that is first looked at when considering cloud computing architecture, the front-end is what determines whether your cloud-based system is user-friendly – and therefore well received by the end user. Other than that, the front-end consists of several subcomponents that need to integrate well in order to achieve smooth navigation, which therefore creates a host of variables in this area that need to be addressed in order to obtain a seamless workflow.
The devices that the end user utilizes for accessing the services provided by your cloud-based system falls under this subcategory.
This is the software that is used to access services on the cloud. Currently, web browsers and installed applications are what constitute as client software, as these are most popularly used to access the cloud.
What the client interacts with in order to execute a task, is what is referred to as a user interface. The manner in which information is organized and can be retrieved determines the overall usability of the system, especially in more complex models that require thorough data taxonomies.
What’s beneath the surface is what determines the form and function of any given system. Likewise, back-end cloud architecture also consists of key components that ensure your system operates according to your objectives, while being scalable and cost-efficient at the same time.
This is the back-end version of what you see on the front-end. Back-end applications therefore present all the resources required to adjust items on the front-end, whether it’s on a manual or real-time basis. This therefore keeps the front-end up-to-date and running smoothly.
The various platforms (or services, depending on what is being used and how) are the cogwheels of the entire cloud computing operation. With multiple services integrated to complement one another in order to deliver a working system, platforms/services include but aren’t limited to storage, identity management and resource management.
Since software requires a well-configured runtime environment in order to run, it is a key component to ensuring overall workability of what you create in your cloud network. Add to that the aspect of virtualization, which includes adopting virtual machines in order to run your software, probably in multiple servers, that too. Also known as hypervisors, these offer shared resources that are then managed by an orchestrator service to create smooth workflows, while reducing costs at the same time.
The actual servers that host all your data are a prime example of back-end cloud computing infrastructure. While these aren’t usually seen in today’s mainstream cloud computing landscape, they (along with other hardware elements such as physical storage devices and network cables) form to be the base repositories of what is known as the cloud today.
As multiple services connect and collaborate on a real-time basis, they also face the likelihood of duplication when it comes to interacting with one another. Middleware greatly simplifies this, by acting as a mediator, as its name suggests.
While cloud computing initially forayed into the mainstream market by offering serverless applications, it has long since evolved to cater towards differing modes of deployment, following the unique interests and needs of consumers and businesses alike. As a result, cloud computing extends way beyond the shared, public resource space, and consists of a range of deployment models that can precisely satisfy any business requirement, no matter how complex it may all be.
This is the common cloud that most of us are acquainted with today. Accessible with ease and scalable as required, the public cloud is akin to a shared repository that multiple users can gain entry to, and then utilize services provided for a nominal fee (sometimes even for free). While the public cloud is easy on the budget and is versatile in terms of scalability, it does present a higher susceptibility to security breaches. However, this is also something that can be circumvented via a combination of tighter security protocols and a carefully structured cloud architecture.
Example of a public cloud: The usual file storage service (which is either free or available on a subscription) is a common example of a public cloud service. While users can sign up and utilize the service as much as they need, they can also upgrade if more resources are required (such as moving over to a subscription if the minimal capacity available via the free service doesn’t suffice). This is also a great example of how scalability is so convenient with cloud computing in general. While you can increase your resource capacity, you can also downscale with little to no commitment, should your needs change over time.
Although the public cloud presents a variety of advantages that are hard to beat, enterprises are still keen on obtaining the convenience of the cloud, while doing so in a space that is only accessible to their own business. As an AWS partner, enabling businesses to achieve their objectives is something that presents unique interests, requirements and challenges every day – in turn necessitating cloud offerings that are as diverse as the requirements presented by organizations themselves. The private cloud is one such diverse initiative, as it provides businesses their own dedicated space within the greater arena that is housed by cloud service providers.
Example of a private cloud: A single-tenant cloud environment, one that is only reserved for the use of the entity that has purchased it, is the ideal example of a private cloud. Unlike the public cloud where resources are offered to multiple users (but with the privacy of personal data maintained) the private cloud confines its resources to its owner alone. This is a great option for larger enterprises that have equally greater cloud needs, especially if collaboration needs to happen across the shores and internationally.
The community cloud can be described as one that is somewhere between a private and a public cloud; while it is an extension of the former, it isn’t as open as the latter. In other words, a community cloud environment is one that is confined to a group of companies, ideally those that are working on similar projects. While this increases proprietorship for the cloud system at hand, it also makes collaboration all the more efficient thanks to this space that is reserved for select entities only.
Examples of a community cloud: A holdings company deploying a community cloud for the use of all its subsidiary companies is a good example of a community cloud. While this maintains a smoother flow of data across the corporation, it also provides a sense of consistency across all subsidiaries, since everything pertaining to the corporation is hosted in one single cloud network.
Alternatively, community cloud environments can also be created between businesses that are all working towards the same goal; a construction project is a good example in this case. With multiple entities involved in large-scale building projects, everything from legal matters to supply chain operations can be handled by accessing one central cloud resource. While a holistic cloud environment of this sort enables separate authority since the space is only reserved for companies exclusively involved, it also leverages security as well as smoother collaboration since silos will be eliminated.
A cloud environment that consists of both private and public cloud networks is known as a hybrid cloud. As businesses evolve to face tougher competition while staying mindful of safeguarding their precious data, a hybrid cloud model is sometimes ideal for conducting business operations at scale and within budget. While a hybrid cloud system may seem counter-intuitive upon first glance, choosing which resources come from which deployment method, configuring them carefully and integrating them to make sure all data points are stringently connected can turn out to be a gamechanger in terms of budget – especially in sectors where profit margins are at a minimum, or differing seasons determine drastic shifts in revenue.
Example of a hybrid cloud: A B2C company that sells its products online can benefit from a hybrid cloud environment. While front-end systems can be stored and accessed via a public cloud, sensitive data can be stored safely in a private cloud in the interest of enhanced security. Other aspects, depending on security quotients can be hosted either publicly or privately, thereby giving businesses added flexibility to choose between the two and save even more money in the long run.
Another new variant (and contender) in the cloud deployment model scene is a multi-cloud environment, which is characterized by cloud offerings from multiple providers. Multi-cloud environments have turned the tables by encouraging otherwise competing cloud support services to work together with one another in order to facilitate the most one-of-a-kind business needs which involve the usage of services from multiple providers.
Example of a multi-cloud environment: Hosting applications for internal collaboration under one provider, and using another provider to develop new applications for customer/client use is a good example of a multi-cloud environment. A real-life use case can include using Microsoft Azure for organizations that are already using Office 365, but then use AWS for website and app development owing to its high variety of offerings.
While the cloud continues to be an essential base for all things tech during these modern times, it presents much that is unheard of, even to the trained individual. That is why it is a good idea to go back to the basics in order to understand the ins and outs of cloud computing architecture, as well as the manner in which components interact with one another to make operations run smoothly. Consisting of both a front and back-end, the internet creates a medium of transmitting data across the system.
While the front-end includes relevant software and hardware, the actual interface a user interacts with determines the overall capability of the system, and whether its back-end is configured intelligently enough. On the back-end, components can be categorized in layers, starting from back-end applications, progressing to platforms for developing services, and over to runtimes, hypervisors and large-scale infrastructure. Apart from the actual architecture, deployment models also carry a lot of weight as they make all the difference between a cloud network that’s providing optimum performance for the money you’re spending. Public, private, community, hybrid and multi-cloud environments are all designed to cater to business needs of practically any degree – which thereby ascertains the fact that cloud computing can be tailored to suit any business need, anytime and anywhere.