From SaaS to NLP, we go beyond the acronyms and look at how cloud computing can be used in real life.
Cloud computing has become a common phrase to hear among tech-savvy businesses. Working in the cloud means data and services can come to where they’re needed on demand from one of a variety of shared data centers. Cloud storage has become a common service on the commercial side, too. After all, backing up on the cloud helps make sure the sole copy of your data doesn’t get lost.
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Cloud computing use cases can be as varied as the businesses and individuals who use it. It can provide real-time insights to business leaders or streaming and gaming services to consumers. Take a look at some of the best cloud computing use cases, chosen for being particularly practical or particularly clever.
What are the benefits of cloud computing?
There’s an old business adage that if you want something “fast, cheap and good,” you can really only get two out of the three. The benefits of cloud computing attempt to challenge that adage. Speed is one of its most-praised traits, with the engagement of cloud computing resources from different physical locations improving performance and availability no matter where your data is coming to or going. That speed also applies to application deployment, where updates can be sent “over the air” without having to replace hardware or send a person to physically set up a server.
That lack of hardware also reduces cost. The cloud does still come with an up-front cost. However, it may save you money in the long run by cutting down on costs from maintaining your own hardware and a spot in a data center cage. Business insights from platforms running on the cloud in real time can help your organization save money across the board, too.
While there are a myriad of benefits of cloud computing, these show how it can make a change for the better in business.
Top 5 cloud computing use cases
Software as a service
Cloud has enabled several as-a-service models that shape the way content is delivered. Infrastructure as a service or platform as a service takes the maintenance out of the hands of the buyer, enabling them to essentially rent services delivered over the internet.
Distinct from these types but with significant overlap is software as a service. Cloud computing enables a subscription model like this to travel with the person or people who need to access it. Familiar applications like Salesforce, Dropbox or Slack enable organizations to use these services without adding to the burden of their IT teams.
Testing and building applications
Working in flexible cloud infrastructures can save time and money when it comes to testing and building applications. First, the infrastructure can be scaled up and down relatively easily. Second, that lets developers iterate rapidly, learning what works best faster and making overall progress on projects faster.
By using cloud computing for test and development, organizations can skip or significantly speed up securing physical assets and installing and configuring a development platform. Cloud infrastructure has made a big difference when it comes to today’s DevOps process, CI/CD pipelines, microservices, containerization, and serverless application development and execution.
Big data intelligence
The amount of data created every day by even a single end point is well beyond practical human analysis. Today’s ubiquitous big data needs its own automated analysis, and the cloud can help sort through it for actionable intelligence. The cloud can host intelligence about consumers’ buying patterns or help ease an organization’s expansion into new markets. Technically, big data refers to more than a million gigabytes.
Big data might be used by transportation businesses to keep track of their fleets, analyze traffic patterns and set routes.
Intelligent energy-saving methods
Like anything involving computing, running the data centers needed for the cloud still takes a lot of electricity to run and cool the hardware. However, intelligent analytics from the cloud can optimize energy use for the organizations it serves. This can vary widely in scope. Services like AWS Power & Utilities provide responsive, dynamic cloud computing resources to help utilities and power companies keep up with environmental regulations. Others work more on the scale of a small device, such as reducing the total run time of a coffee maker.
Natural language processing
Natural language processing can reach new functionality with the speed of the cloud behind it. Technically, NLP has been around for decades, since experiments at Stanford University in the 1970s produced a computer able to parse grammatically correct, original and factual sentences.
Deloitte used its modern cloud services to provide NLP to a client in wealth management. The wealth management organization needed to reduce discrepancies between contracts and client invoices. The system they chose could read contracts written in a variety of different ways, reducing money lost from mismatches. Along with a human in the loop, the system helped prevent errors that a human employee or a less intelligent application would be likely to miss.