Cloud services are platforms, infrastructure, or software that are hosted by third-party software providers and made accessible to users over the Internet. Cloud services move user data from front-end clients (e.g., user servers, tablets, computers, laptops – anything near users), through the Internet, to vendor systems, and more.

These services promote cloud-based productivity and the flexibility of working in the cloud. Users can access cloud services with nothing more than a computer, an operating system, and an Internet connection.

What are examples of cloud services?

Any hardware, platform, software, or technology that users access over the Internet without the need to download additional software can use cloud computing services, including these solutions as a service.

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provides users with computing, network and security infrastructure.

Platform as a service (PaaS) provides users with a platform on which applications can run, along with all the IT infrastructure necessary to run it.

Software as a service (SaaS) provides users, in essence, cloud applications, the platform it runs on, and the underlying platform infrastructure.

Function as a Service (FaaS), a service-based platform, allows developers to build, run, and manage application packages as a service without maintaining infrastructure.

A cloud computing environment captures, aggregates, and distributes virtual resources across a network. The cloud enables cloud computing, which works in a cloud-based environment. The cloud is a type of PaaS because third parties provide the hardware and application software platform.

How does cloud computing work?

Like other IT solutions, cloud services work with hardware and software. However, unlike traditional hardware and software, users only need a computer, network connection, and operating system to access cloud services.

Cloud infrastructure

When providing cloud infrastructure to users, cloud service providers offload computing power and hardware, for example by isolating:

  • The processing power of central processing units (CPUs)
  • Working memory consists of pages of random access memory (RAM)
  • Graphics processing from graphics processing units (GPUs)
  • Data storage access from data centres or hard drives

Once isolated, the security personnel, computers and networking equipment are delivered as infrastructure or IaaS. This type of cloud service has led to the rise of cloud storage, which stores large amounts of data as part of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Cloud service providers can also use their hardware resources to create cloud platforms, which are online environments where users can create code or run the software. Building a cloud platform requires more than just removing computing power from its hardware, such as when deploying cloud infrastructure.

Providing a cloud platform requires additional levels of development to integrate technologies such as storage, processing, application programming interfaces (APIs), reconfiguration, security, management, and automation. User experience (UX) design is also an important consideration to create a navigable online experience.

Cloud applications are a form of PaaS. But if the infrastructure that supports PaaS is scalable and distributed, it can be considered as a cloud. The best examples of cloud PaaS include the public cloud and managed cloud.