What is Cloud Computing?

Updated by Linode Written by Linode

Contribute on GitHub

Report an Issue | View File | Edit File

Cloud computing provides access to powerful, scalable, and versatile computer resources over the internet for a variety of purposes. Common uses are hosting websites, streaming media, providing email services, and data storage and analysis. Because cloud computing infrastructure is shared, computing power is available for a much lower cost than owning and maintaining these systems independently.

Why Use Cloud Computing?

A shift to cloud computing can reduce IT infrastructure costs, enable collaboration by leveraging remotely accessible centralized storage, increase security, and supply flexibility for shifting customer needs. As your business or startup grows cloud computing can contribute to your economy of scale.

Cloud Computing Models

Cloud is divided into three models: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS).


Software as a Service is one or more applications that run on a cloud-based server and can be accessed by users on-demand. Salesforce CRM, Google Office, and Trello are examples of Software as a Service.


Platform as a Service is the underlying development and/or runtime stack that software services are built on. Examples would be web servers, development frameworks, and managed and orchestrated containers.


Infrastructure as a Service means you rent the network and server resources from a provider for your own use. This is the foundational model of cloud computing. Linode is an example of IaaS. You can create PaaS and/or SaaS solutions on IaaS.

Public and Private Clouds

Cloud computing comes in three main flavors:

Public Cloud

A public cloud shares computing resources between the subscribers of the cloud provider’s services. The infrastructure is owned and maintained by the service provider. Linode is an example of a public cloud provider.

Private Cloud

In a private cloud, the computing infrastructure is dedicated to a single organization and access granted only to their members. The physical servers are housed by the organization or by a third party. Private clouds offer a higher-level of privacy and security for sensitive and protected data.

Hybrid Cloud

The combination of a private and public cloud is a hybrid cloud. An organization may house confidential and higher traffic data and applications on a public cloud and maintain more sensitive data, such as software repositories or confidential customer data, on a private cloud.

Join our Community

Find answers, ask questions, and help others.

comments powered by Disqus

This guide is published under a CC BY-ND 4.0 license.