Cloud technologies have been much in-focus over the past six months, mostly because of the way they have helped businesses adapt to the remote working models needed during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown. Many organisations have also taken the opportunity to investigate the possibility of moving permanently to a more Cloud-based infrastructure.

Cloud-based infrastructures

Also known as ‘Infrastructure-as-a-Service’ (IaaS), this is where a third-party vendor takes responsibility for hosting and maintaining (in the Cloud) the client’s core infrastructure including vital software, hardware, servers, and storage. In particular this usually includes application hosting. This solution is very appealing to businesses because they only have to pay for the infrastructure that they use – allowing them to reduce costs because no resource investments need to be sat idle or underutilised.

There are now five main Cloud providers in the IaaS market. These are; Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, and Alibaba Cloud.

Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services is a subsidiary of Amazon and offers on-demand cloud computing resources such as data storage and data analysis tools. They occupy around 35% of the IaaS market and are used by individuals, companies, and even some governmental organisations. The tailored integration of these services enables their subscribers to experience a virtual cluster of computers online – each tailored to the individual needs of their users and as familiar to use as the networked desktops they are used to.

AWS is generally considered to be the most powerful and flexible IaaS solution and the platform delivers many of the attributes you would expect to find on actual physical computers, including an operating system, hardware, CPUs, storage and RAM, as well as pre-loaded applications such as databases, CRMs, web servers, and so on.

Google Cloud Platform

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) offers a full range of services including networking, storage, the internet of things (IoT) and access to Machine Learning (ML). It also offers intuitive tools for Cloud management, security, and system development. Google Cloud Storage supports both SQL and NoSQL database storage. The Google App Engine also offers access to Google’s hosting and software development kit so that developers can create their own apps. All of these services can be accessed through dedicated networks or through the public Internet.

Microsoft Azure

Microsoft’s cloud computing service supports the development and management of applications and services. For web developers, it includes support for PHP, Node.js, and Windows Azure is an ideal platform for deploying code on Windows servers. SQL Azure can also be integrated with their SQL Server software. A popular feature of Azure is the ease of deploying, integrating and controlling mobile devices (through MDM – the mobile device management framework).

IBM Bluemix

IBM Bluemix combines both the platform (PaaS) and IaaS services. IBM’s Bluemix PaaS offering is based on an open source cloud platform called Cloud Foundry. IBM services can be used by developers to build, manage, run, and deploy applications for use in on-premises environments or in the public Cloud. IBM Bluemix supports a number of programming languages including Java, PHP, Node.js, and Python. It can also be extended to support other lesser-known languages.

Alibaba Cloud

Alibaba Cloud is the cloud offering from the Chinese Alibaba Group. Their services dominate the Chinese market but also have roots all over the world. The Alibaba Cloud was originally created as a private cloud to support the internal needs of the Alibaba Group but it was soon scaled-up to become a public cloud solution. Alibaba Cloud services cover elastic computing, object storage, hosting, relational databases, big data analytics, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence.

All of the above options provide viable solutions for dynamic businesses who are looking to streamline their IT efficiency or boost their access to new IT resources.