What type of architecture is cloud computing?
While cloud computing itself concerns on-demand, self-serviced internet access to a shared pool of computing resources like applications, servers, data storage, etc., cloud computing architecture focuses on building this infrastructure, dedicated for particular services, and connecting it within a cloud. It combines architecture that is oriented on services with event-driven architecture to provide cloud-based delivery.
To put it more simply, cloud computing architecture plays the main integrating factor of a cloud, allowing the connection between individual virtualized resources across a network. Every structure needs some organizing. When it comes to cloud – this is the role of cloud architecture, to create a virtualized environment that enables pooling resources irrespectively of physical hardware limitations.
Quite the opposite to on-premises IT infrastructure, cloud computing offers easy, on-demand access to its software components and ensures flexibility and scalability customized to individual users’ needs and necessary changes.
Basic components of cloud computing
The most basic division of cloud computing architecture components is frontend and backend architecture with cloud infrastructure. Frontend involves elements ‘visible’ for the end-user, like web applications, mobile, user interface, design in general, all client infrastructure, etc., while backend refers to data storage and management, servers, operating system software, security, and so on. To talk about cloud-based delivery, all those components must be connected within a network and integrated, creating cloud computing architecture.
Cloud service is also divided regarding the type of services they provide and the level of accessibility to cloud architecture. The most commonly used ones are Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS).
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS is the basic type of cloud service. It provides access and control over the lowest-level cloud computing architecture resources, like data storage (physical or virtual), servers, network infrastructure, virtual machines, etc. All applications and the whole software environment must be configured and deployed; they are not available in an off-the-shelf model. The IaaS model offers cloud computing infrastructure responsible for application data management, runtime environments, and middleware if necessary.
Even though it is quite limited access, it enables end-users to manage the held cloud service scalability. They can scale it according to current business needs, diminishing resources (like the server number, number of services and features in usage, etc.) and up-front expenditures, or compounding them to easily manage periodic demand peaks.
IaaS helps to avoid situations when a company overbuys software resources that are, in fact, necessary only for a short period and spends significant amounts on maintaining and managing it. The regular demand is usually much lower than acquired capabilities. Thus scalability and flexible management are the absolute essentials on the business way to cost and delivery effectiveness.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
SaaS, also called cloud application services or ‘on-demand software’, is application software hosted in the cloud, accessible usually via a web browser or a dedicated client desktop or API. That excludes the necessity of downloading and installing it in the first place.
The fee for Software as a Service usage is usually charged as monthly or annual subscriptions, although, in some cases, clients are offered ‘pay-as-you-go’ pricing. It is quite convenient, considering that all upgrades and development are automated and handled by the SaaS provider, who is responsible for maintaining the application, servers and storage, and management, networking, middleware, etc.
Users get access to all new features without additional on-premises effort, just as soon as the SaaS provider deploys the upgrades. IBM describes SaaS as the most popular delivery model in commercial software.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
PaaS, also called cloud platform services, is comparable to SaaS. The main difference is that the PaaS model provides users with an on-demand platform for software development. In contrast, the SaaS model doesn’t require the platform to access the hosted software, just the internet connection.
PaaS providers host a complete technology stack and toolset, from hardware, servers, and networks to software infrastructure and development tools, but they do not provide automatic updates and actualizations. The user manages software development, applications management, and updates, not the platform provider.
Traits of a cloud computing architecture
Undoubtedly, cloud computing architecture offers the most desired software traits: it is easy to access and scalable at all times. The uninterrupted access is guaranteed by the manner of usage – as on-demand self-service. Yes, this shifts all the management responsibility to the end-user. Still, it provides total control over actual usage and flexibility of the application management in return, which leads to the second perk – scalability. Cloud computing infrastructure has to be accessible for many parties, which induces flexibility and a variety of assets to meet clients’ diverse demands. Those demands change over time. Therefore, end-users can adjust current assets to their current demand, enhancing or limiting resources as they go, for instance, reducing storage volume when demand peak finishes.
Scalability imposes another thing, which is security. A number of users and billions of stored and processed data require high-level security and efficient measurement service, which cloud computing architecture providers usually respond to with backup systems preventing data loss and advanced analytics. That only increases the general control of their clients over the cloud computing service they use. End-users may change their cloud computing assets according to their business needs, which ensures the elasticity of technology capabilities and results in high cost-effectiveness for business in general.
How to create a good cloud architecture?
There’s no one ultimate way to build efficient, secured, and resilient cloud computing architecture, but there are some guidelines that can help you achieve that goal:
Cloud architecture as a set of services
Think of your cloud as a set of cloud computing services or APIs. Each service is a component of a bigger structure; a compound user can adjust to the individual demand as composite applications.
Communication within particular cloud components
To ensure the highest performance level, communication between components of cloud computing should be swift and efficient. Organize all communications into groups or streams of data that helps with limiting the latency and accelerate application general performance.
While building the whole cloud computing architecture, you should consider designing and embedding security in it. The more robust the security system you implement at the beginning, the fewer issues with data loss and compliances you will receive as a cloud provider.
Performance and scale-oriented design
Try to forecast and understand how components of cloud computing applications will behave during regular and huge accidental workloads and prepare it to perform well in any situation, especially during load peaks. This knowledge enables you to prepare mechanisms responsible for easy scaling.
Robust design and data processing
A user-oriented frontend and supported by performative UX and user interface makes your cloud infrastructure intuitive and easy to use. Combine it with reliable data processing and storage on the backend side, and you will ensure a high level of cloud computing service.
Good cloud computing architecture accelerates business
Good cloud computing architecture aims to combine accessible software resources, high-level security, and the ability to scale under changing business demand into a set of services that enables easy cloud-based delivery for its users. The cloud is not a perfect technology solution but, as we can only try to reach perfection, it certainly supports business development. Increasing financial resources efficiency, accurate delivery management, high accessibility, and security levels – the cloud offers these advancements and many more. It enhances overall business competitiveness and drives technology changes that make your enterprise capable of rapid adjustment to ever-changing market demands.