Salesforce Tutorial: What is Cloud Computing
Since its inception in early 1999, Salesforce has been a firm believer in the power of cloud computing. In fact, it’s one of the leading technologies that drove the popularity of the cloud to the next level in the past two decades.
Today, we can’t complete any discussion about Salesforce without fully understanding what cloud computing is and how it works. So, in the second part of our Salesforce tutorial series, we will give you a complete overview of cloud computing and its role in the Salesforce platform. Why wait any longer, then? Let’s get started.
The world before the cloud
Before cloud computing became popular in the technology world, businesses had to rely on on-premise resources to host their software solutions. It included purchasing a complete array of hardware and software infrastructure from servers, storage space, networking devices, and operating systems to applications. And they had to seek the services of technical experts for the installation and maintenance of these on-premise infrastructures.
The whole process required a huge upfront investment from companies wanting to run their own software solutions. Even then, the system took months to set up before finally being available for use. And scaling up the system required going through the entire process again, spending loads of money and time. With the high price tag attached to it, only large-scale businesses could afford to run sophisticated software to support their operations.
When Salesforce launched its “No software” campaign in early 2000, not many believed it’d be able to take on on-premise technology giants like Oracle or SAP. But now, two decades later, businesses can’t even imagine a future without the cloud playing a significant role in their technology solutions. The reason for this surging popularity of the cloud was, of course, the answers it provided to the limitations of the on-premise model.
What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of computing resources as a service. In this model, instead of purchasing and setting up computer hardware and software on-premise, the end-user rents them from a third party who owns and manages the resources for an agreed fee. And the only thing the end-user should own to connect to this remote software environment is a stable internet connection.
Businesses don’t have to worry about purchasing, installing, or maintaining servers, storage space, networking devices, or software licenses with the cloud computing model. While the cloud service provider takes care of the infrastructure on their end, the business can simply start running their applications with minimal setup time and no upfront investment.
Compared to on-premise solutions, moving to the cloud can significantly reduce setup and operational costs because you only have to pay for the resources you use. You don’t have to bear system maintenance and upgrading costs and pay for the services of technical experts. These factors reduce the risks of introducing new software solutions—especially for small businesses—and make scaling up its operations as simple as signing up for additional services.
Public cloud vs other cloud environments
When it comes to cloud computing, “public cloud” is a term that you’d come across often. What is public cloud? And how does it compare to the concept of cloud we discussed so far?
In public cloud, its users share computing resources like servers and storage. Even though the resources are shared, the service provider ensures that users cannot access data stored and processed by another user under any circumstance. This sharing of resources allows vendors to offer their services at reduced costs. And it makes the public cloud more affordable to end-users than the alternatives.
As opposed to the public cloud, the private cloud provides resources reserved for a single user, giving them more control over system settings and guaranteeing a higher level of security. This makes the private cloud more expensive than the public cloud. There are also cloud solutions that combine both private and public clouds to offer hybrid and multi-cloud solutions.
Salesforce, since its beginning, has operated as a public cloud platform to make it more affordable and accessible to all types of users.
Different types of cloud services
We can divide cloud computing services delivered today into three main types. They are:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
- Platform as a Service (PaaS)
- Software as a Service (SaaS)
This categorization depends on the types of resources cloud vendors supply to the users. The resources provided by each service don’t have a clear-cut difference, and it leaves room for overlaps between the three of them.
We can think of these services as the “stack” of cloud computing. This idea is derived from the fact that these cloud services build on top of one another. PaaS introduces modifications to the environment already created by IaaS, which is at the base level. Then, SaaS further improves PaaS to complete the stack of cloud computing.
Let’s talk about these three types of cloud services in more detail.
Infrastructure as a Service
IaaS refers to the type of cloud services that deliver computer infrastructures, like servers, storage, networking devices, and operating systems, on-demand. For example, if we want to host a website on the cloud, IaaS is the type of service we have to rely upon. Google Compute Engine, AWS EC2, and Microsoft Azure are some examples of IaaS platforms.
Platform as a Service
PaaS builds on top of IaaS to provide not only basic hardware infrastructure but also required applications for developing, testing, delivering, and managing software. It saves developers from the hassle of setting up a development environment from scratch when they want to build new programs. Salesforce Platform, Salesforce’s app development environment, is an excellent example of a PaaS. Other examples include Google App Engine and Heroku.
Software as a Service
SaaS takes cloud services another step forward and delivers complete applications hosted and run on third-party infrastructure, which end-users can start using without additional installation or configuration. Gmail, Google Docs, and Office 365 are examples of SaaS platforms we’re most familiar with. When it comes to Salesforce, most of its products, including Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud, are SaaS programs.
Benefits of cloud computing
In this section, let’s discuss some of the main benefits of cloud computing over on-premise solutions.
- Reduced installation and operational costs: As we rent computing resources from a third party with a pay-as-you-go pricing scheme, the cloud model eliminates the huge upfront investment required by on-premise solutions. And it reduces operational costs by charging only for the resources we use.
- Easily scalable: With the cloud, scaling up your software solutions is only a matter of subscribing to more resources. And the entire process takes only minutes—not days like a traditional on-premise system. If you want to scale down the solution after a while, again, you only have to unsubscribe from a portion of the resources you use.
- Access to the latest technology and component upgrades: As cloud vendors take care of system maintenance and management, they regularly carry out system and technology upgrades. And as end-users of the system, you instantly get access to these upgraded technologies without any effort from your end.
- Easily accessible: Cloud services are easily accessible to anyone from anywhere in the world as long as they have a stable internet connection. But if we were to implement a similar system with on-premise solutions, it’d take a huge amount of money and technical expertise that most businesses can’t afford.
In the second part of our Salesforce tutorial series, we understood what cloud computing is and how it enables Salesforce to deliver its services to customers. In the next section of the tutorial series, we will discuss the process of CRM, or customer relationship management, and how Salesforce contributes to CRM in more detail. Salesforce Tutorial: What is Cloud Computing