Master the Basics of Cloud Computing  


When it comes to a non-technically minded audience, cloud computing is, if nothing else, confusing. Even the most technologically minded among us still struggle to find the right words to explain it. 

The reasons for poor “cloud literacy” are numerous:  

  • The way we use the cloud, and the parts therein, continue to evolve. Defining a moving target is challenging. 
  • The same word, such as “server,” can be used to describe two different things.  
  • The word “cloud” means something different when it is used alone versus compounded, as is the case with “cloud computing,” “public cloud,” “cloud architecture,”, and “cloud environment”. 
  • Technology companies will often use cloud terms interchangeably. For example, what Microsoft calls “types of cloud computing,” is just called “clouds” by other tech experts.  

How is anyone supposed to make their way alone through the heavily nuanced, yet fascinating haze of comprehending the cloud?  

No one. That’s why it’s important to work with an expert IT partner because once you understand the cloud, there’s no going back. The benefits are that good. The cloud makes your business technology:  

  • Faster 
  • Scalable  
  • Reliable 
  • Secure 
  • High performing  
  • Cost-effective 

The benefits of the cloud make it a no-brainer for every organization. If you’re a decision-maker for an organization still on the fence about embracing cloud technology, here’s everything you need to know. In the interest of brevity, we’ll focus on a few key cloud terms so that you can at least master the basics in the least amount of time. 

What is the cloud? 

A “cloud,” whether public, private, hybrid, or multi-cloud, serves as an IT environment hosted over the internet. Cloud environments house your applications and other shareable resources, making them available across teams. 

What is cloud computing?  

Cloud computing is the act of delivering all the housed applications and shareable resources—such as servers, software, databases, network components, and data—through the Internet to your organization via a third-party provider. Instead of paying for maintenance and staffing costs to operate from an on-premises server, cloud services are only billed for how much is in use.  

What cloud types are available?  

Private Cloud 

A private cloud contains and secures your organization’s restricted resources and information.  Users can only access private cloud data via login or an “allowed location.” Your organization may already have an on-premises server– a private cloud fulfills the same purpose.  

Public Cloud 

Public clouds contain widely accessible computing resources maintained and owned by a third-party provider. It allows other users to interact with your organization through designated, public-facing avenues, the most common example being your website. For example, many schools use a portal to post students’ grades and assignments. Parents can access this portal for their students if they’ve created an account on the website.  

Popular public cloud providers include: 

Hybrid Cloud 

A hybrid cloud is a robust combination of traditional cloud computing models and on-premises servers and storage, popular for its flexibility. Data lives on both the on-premises servers and in the cloud. Many organizations opt for the hybrid cloud model because it’s an efficient way to safely back up critical data, without the risk of losing it all to a physical disaster, like a storm or a fire. If one server goes down, organizations won’t have to worry about all other servers going down with it. 


A multi-cloud is spreading and storing different pieces of data across multiple third-party cloud providers. Although this might sound like a lot, this is becoming increasingly common for just about any internet user. For example, a school may require students and teachers to use Google Classroom for lessons, while administration and office staff primarily use Microsoft 365. Because Google and Microsoft are cloud providers and are separately storing the work performed in their respective clouds, this is a multi-cloud model. 

What is a cloud service?   

Cloud services pertain to what function a cloud type will serve for your organization. This can range from just providing you access to certain applications, to managing your organization’s entire back end and operational structure. In general, cloud services are broken up into three categories: software, platform, and infrastructure.  

Like anything regarding the cloud, this is all performed through the internet via a third-party provider. 

What types of cloud services are available?  

Software as a Service (SaaS) 

SaaS is an application, or set of applications, provided by a vendor for a subscription fee. By using a cloud model to access software instead of natively installing it on every device, users and organizations are not liable to troubleshoot when errors, such as crashing occur. Organizations will often subscribe to SaaS models if they need multiple pieces of software for different business units.  

Common examples of SaaS are: 

Platform as a Service (PaaS) 

PaaS is when a vendor combines a bundle of different cloud and IT services, such as hosting a database or video calling, and puts them all on an accessible “platform.” Like SaaS’s pricing model, PaaS is also billed via a monthly subscription fee. A common example of a PaaS provider is Citrix, which provides a unified platform for organizations to file share, conference, and host databases from. This is a great solution when organizations need a variety of services without a variety of providers from every direction.  

Other examples of common PaaS providers include: 

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) 

IaaS is an on-demand service that combines many features of PaaS and SaaS through a single provider. While mostly on the back end, IaaS providers manage all your organization’s vital infrastructural components, such as your network and firewall, while hosting your private and public cloud needs. IaaS providers allow organizations a lot more flexibility, eliminating the steep upfront costs for their own infrastructure’s upkeep.  

Other examples of IaaS are: 

The cloud is inevitable, especially for schools 

For many reasons, schools have been operating like their own private data centers for the last few decades. We say: it’s time to leave behind the data center business. Click here a more in-depth discussion about this topic.

It’s time migrate to the more budget-and-collaboration-friendly cloud so you can invest more time and attention to instructional content and multimedia. You’ll keep your district, schools, and classrooms innovative, engaged, and most importantly, safe. 

Learn more about how Acture can make your school’s transition to the cloud seamless