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The Cloud Ecosystem: A Beginner’s Guide

Posted on by Calleigh Fisher | Updated:
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Much like in nature, independent elements of cloud technology come together to form an overarching cloud ecosystem. Each component of the ecosystem is interconnected in some way, and they all rely on each other to deliver cloud services as we know them. 

As cloud technology has evolved, cloud ecosystems have grown in size, scope, and complexity. Currently, they include many individual components, both living and inanimate, working together – much like you’d see in a forest or swamp.

Operating in this new realm of the cloud has become a necessity in the modern business world. To ensure you and your team are prepared, we at Liquid Web want to provide you with an in-depth guide to understanding the cloud ecosystem. Join us as we take a deep dive into what the cloud ecosystem is, how it works, the players involved, and more.

Table of Contents

What is the Cloud Ecosystem?

The cloud ecosystem represents the web of components that come together to deliver cloud services. Cloud computing hardware and software, cloud developers, consultants, integrators, collaborators, and clients each contribute to this overall system in their own way. Alone, each player in the system can only do so much. But as a whole, they create a system that offers incredible power and benefits. 

Harnessing cloud computing can help streamline services, allow businesses to offer competitive prices, increase the speed of provisioning, and much more. Working together as a more extensive network furthers businesses toward greater collaboration and data analytics, spurs innovation, and pushes companies toward exponential growth. 

How Does the Cloud Ecosystem Work?

Think of the cloud ecosystem as a wheel or a “hub and spoke” model. Usually, a cloud provider sits at the center and is essential to how cloud ecosystems work. Typically, this is a public cloud as opposed to a managed private cloud.

An easy example of cloud systems to understand is Amazon Web Services (AWS). In our cloud ecosystem model, they would be the “hub” or “nucleus.” A limitless number of interconnected relationships can branch out from a popular cloud provider like AWS. These can be tech companies leveraging AWS services for their applications, consultants, or third-party companies forming a strategic partnership with AWS. 

This is where things get complex. Since AWS can support multiple applications as a strategic partner, it takes part in their ecosystem as well. For example, AWS may support Salesforce within its ecosystem. But Salesforce, being a sizeable company itself, has its own ecosystem hosted on top of the original AWS cloud ecosystem.

Salesforce operates some of its services on the AWS infrastructure, and Salesforce clients can access certain parts of the AWS framework like storage resources. Although the overall ecosystem “web” becomes more complex, it actually benefits everyone involved by making the ecosystem more dynamic and preventing vendor lock-in (forcing users to stay with one vendor out of fear of switching).

The Players in a Cloud Ecosystem

Cloud ecosystems are tied together by a single thread – the public cloud provider that is the backbone of all other services and applications. As a result, these networks can grow to be very large, complex, and sometimes hard to keep track of.

In general, the players involved in most cloud ecosystems fall into one of four categories:

  • Providers and brokers: companies likeAWS, Microsoft Azure, Liquid Web, etc.
  • Consumers: the organizations that use the different cloud services provided.
  • Developers: IT professionals that work for a particular organization within the ecosystem.
  • End-Users: users of products that are built on cloud services.

Let’s revisit our example from earlier in this article. AWS would be the cloud provider, serving as the “nucleus” of the ecosystem. Salesforce would be the consumer that builds its customer relationship management (CRM) software on the backbone of AWS’ cloud services. 

Salesforce has in-house developers who work toward seamless integration of AWS’ services and Salesforce’s features. These developers are also tasked with exploring ways Salesforce can leverage AWS’ cloud services to offer even more features or services to its customers. These customers (the millions of business owners who pay for Salesforce subscriptions) would be the end-users.

Service Models in a Cloud Ecosystem

Cloud ecosystems usually accommodate one of three basic service models. Services and applications built on public cloud services can either be:

  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): Software applications that can be delivered to customers via the internet. SaaS applications don’t require installation or maintenance and take on a “software-on-demand” feel for the end-user.
  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS): IaaS focuses more on the resources that make computing possible. It leverages the cloud to provide on-demand storage, compute, and networking resources at affordable prices for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS): PaaS provides software companies with a complete development environment via cloud computing. Companies offer hardware and software through various types of virtualization, allowing developers to build anything from basic to enterprise applications.

Cloud Ecosystem Deployment Models

Due to the nature of cloud infrastructure, there’s some flexibility when it comes to a hosting framework. To accomplish the things cloud computing can do, the system needs more evolved architecture than a traditional dedicated server.

Generally, cloud ecosystems fall into one of these three models:

  • Public Cloud: In this model, a hosting provider shares resources – like servers, apps, and storage – with the general public. Multiple tenants have access to the same pool of resources, and these customers pay for the resources they need on a subscription basis.
  • Private Cloud: Private clouds dedicate resources to a single organization.Their main benefit is security since a private cloud is a single tenancy environment.
  • Hybrid Cloud: A hybrid cloud combines public and private. This structure offers businesses the best of both worlds, and both cloud environments are interconnected, so apps and data can be shared.

If you’re looking to migrate your business to the cloud, a private cloud might be the best way to go. Not only will you have increased security, but it’s the easiest to rehost. And with the help of our team at Liquid Web, the process is even more straightforward.

Our innovative IaaS platform and VMware software make the host migration process simple. If you’re wondering “what is VMware” or why you need it, picture how easy it will be to transfer your entire operation to the cloud without having to rewrite any code. Additionally, if you’re concerned about server downtime during the move, you may want to talk to one of our Most Helpful Humans in Hosting about what storage VMotion is and what it can do for your business. 

Understanding the Cloud Ecosystem

The cloud ecosystem includes every service, application, and person working and operating within a particular public cloud infrastructure. Ecosystems begin to overlap and become more complex when companies like Salesforce access AWS’ public cloud internally while allowing access to their end-users simultaneously. Ultimately, this convergence of usage makes the overall ecosystem more dynamic and fosters the evolution of cloud computing.

Contact a Helpful Human at Liquid Web today to learn more about our private cloud and what leveraging virtualization can do for you and your business.

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About the Author

Calleigh Fisher

Calleigh Fisher is a Product Administrator at Liquid Web. She is responsible for helping our teams deliver the products you know and love at Liquid Web! She has a technical background as a Support Administrator and a former Support Supervisor at Liquid Web. When not at work, Cal is usually found leading groups of players through tabletop games, writing stories, or cooking for her friends.

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