What is a Cloud Provider? Services and benefits explained in simple terms

Cloud Provider Definition: What a Cloud Provider Does and Offers

A cloud provider provides IT infrastructure and resources in the form of a virtual data center over public or private networks. This usually includes storage space, computing power or application software as a service. The data center infrastructure does not therefore have to be installed on local servers or on the company’s own hardware and usually includes storage space, computing power or application software as a service. These services cover the entire spectrum of information technology and include infrastructure, platforms and software. They are also used exclusively via technical interfaces and protocols, for example via a web browser. In addition, a modern cloud provider stands out by offering advanced options and problem solutions: These can include database services, container orchestration, AI-related services or machine learning APIs, as well as big data applications such as analytics and much more.

Cloud providers offer three possible service models

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

The cloud provider provides the entire data center infrastructure, which is initially the IT hardware: essential components such as server and network as well as storage space for archiving and backing up data. In most cases, communication devices such as routers, switchers or firewalls are also provided. Cloud providers often operate entire data centers for this purpose. Users can then flexibly assemble the resources they need from the resources provided – and access them via private or public networks in the cloud. In addition, the cloud provider is responsible for setup and maintenance and ensures the smooth availability of these components.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

In PaaS, a cloud provider provides web application developers with a computing platform within the cloud. To this end, the necessary offers are coordinated that contain ready-made building blocks for developing and operating individual applications and programs directly in the cloud: These usually include quickly deployable runtime environments or development environments that can be used immediately and with little administrative effort. From design and testing through to delivery and web application operation via the cloud, the PaaS modules can support the entire development cycle. PaaS modules are thus Managed Public Micro Services whose functionality and availability is guaranteed by the cloud provider.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Here, the cloud provider offers users access to software collections and application programs. They usually run on the cloud provider’s own infrastructure and can build on IaaS or PaaS offerings. SaaS applications have graphical user interfaces and are therefore mostly designed for end users who can then use the service as intuitively as possible. Software as a Service is often referred to as “Software on Demand”.

Cloud providers deliver different cloud types

Public Cloud

In a public cloud, the cloud provider offers many different users the use of its hardware resources. They can then use the cloud provider’s data center flexibly and scalably in terms of quantity and time – and only pay for the resources actually used. A public cloud can be used without a connection to the public Internet, in which case a direct, private connection is established between the data center of the cloud provider and its own infrastructure via dedicated cloud access. This generally guarantees a higher level of data security. In principle, however, the protection of the respective personal data is ensured by virtually distributing the public cloud to different clients via a security layer. Because there are so many different technologies available, when choosing a cloud provider you should inform yourself well in advance how exactly it guarantees data security. At gridscale, we use an overlay network (vxLAN) between the physical and the customer’s own network to make individual encryption possible. This encryption layer is extremely secure due to its state-of-the-art CPU architecture, without reducing the speed.

Private Cloud

A private cloud is, so to speak, the exact opposite of the public cloud, because here the cloud provider provides the resources exclusively. For each client, a scalable resource setup is set up to which only the client has access – as an individual user or as a closed user group. A cloud provider can offer two options for using the private cloud: It is either located in the user’s data center or on the user’s own server – then the user can use it via a private connection to the cloud provider’s data center even without a connection to the public Internet.

The guaranteed resource calculation is made possible by setting up a setup for each client. Only one user or a closed user group has exclusive access to these resources at a time.

Hybrid Cloud

If a cloud provider provides a hybrid cloud, it combines public cloud and private cloud. The advantage here lies in the particularly flexible use of the various offers and services: For example, a company can use its own server instead of the cloud provider’s data center, but benefit from the publicly available IT services from the public cloud.

Cloud providers offer their users many valuable advantages

Cost savings

If the complete IT infrastructure of the cloud provider is used, of course all acquisition costs for the hardware are omitted – even for special platform environments. In addition, the costs of developing state-of-the-art software and a wide range of IT services can also be saved.

A cloud provider can take over not only the provision but also the entire operation as well as the maintenance and servicing of the IT infrastructure. Users then do not have to tie up any capacities or resources. Of course, this also applies to platforms, software solutions and all services provided.

Performance ready to go

From the infrastructure to a wide range of services and the most special offers and environments for developers: The cloud provider has everything at hand, so to speak, gridscale even offers real-time provisioning – so companies are immediately marketable digitally or can start necessary projects within a very short time and/or expand their range of services.

Guaranteed security

Whether it’s data center physical security, data protection or legal security, cloud users can rely on the highest security measures and standards when choosing the right cloud provider. gridscale, for example, works exclusively with the data center providers interxion and e-shelter, both of which have a five-level physical security concept. In addition, the entire company offering was developed in accordance with the strictest data protection regulations in Germany, i.e. in the world, but as a German GmbH without a connection to a foreign parent company is also subject exclusively to German law.

Competitive advantages

For many companies, it is only through the provision of IT resources and services by a cloud provider that it is possible to meet the ever-changing requirements of digitization and Business 4.0 and profit from the opportunities. A cloud provider as a partner thus also creates valuable competitive advantages – and can secure them sustainably through the constant further development of its technologies and offerings.