18 examples of how cloud computing services keep the world at our fingertips

July 3, 2019
Updated: September 19, 2019
Written by Sam Daley

Cloud computing is driven by a network of physical data warehouses hardware, software and services that run on the Internet (the "cloud") instead of on a local device (like your computer). With the cloud, VMware CEO Paul Maritz has said, it’s about "how you do computing, not where you do computing." And these days, it's all the rage.

Cloud Computing Companies With $150M+ Funding

  • Acquia
  • Amazon Web Services
  • Box
  • Collibra
  • Datrium
  • DigitalOcean
  • Dropbox
  • IBM
  • Salesforce
  • Slack

Does cloud computing have drawbacks? Sure. But judging by its widespread use, they're outweighed by numerous benefits. Like, for instance, more flexibility and efficiency than local device data storage. And far greater scalability. For example, one of the world's biggest data gatherers, Netflix, successfully migrated all of its databases to the cloud in 2016. As a result, the streaming giant can now produce more content, onboard more customers and easily handle sharp increases in usage spikes (typically when new episodes of a show are made available). The company can also add or reduce storage amounts in real-time based on its current viewers.      

Almost three years later, cloud computing accounts for a hefty 33 percent of IT budgets worldwide. A huge upgrade from past data storage technology, the cloud lets businesses access applications from anywhere, mitigate data loss with regular backups to other servers and saves companies considerable money on server maintenance by using remote resources.

“[W]ith the cloud, individuals and small businesses can snap their fingers and instantly set up enterprise-class services,” says Roy Stephan, director of IT at Intelligent Decisions.  We've rounded up 18 cloud computing examples that illustrate Stephan's point. 

 

cloud computing applications saas

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is probably the most well-known application for cloud computing. Essentially, SaaS products distribute data online, and are accessible from a browser on any device, which allows those companies to continue to host the software. The ease of use, upfront, subscription based pricing and lowered costs make SaaS one of the most attractive sectors in all of business and tech. Below are three industry leaders in cloud SaaS products.

 

cloud computing applications salesforce
Salesforce

Salesforce

Location: San Francisco, California

How it’s using the cloud: A well known SaaS provider, Salesforce is a CRM tool that helps businesses manage customer relations and generate sales leads. The Sales Cloud combines A.I. and customer data to help sales teams identify potential leads and close sales faster. The platform also has separate clouds for customer service and marketing.

Industry impact: Forrester Research named Salesforce a SaaS leader based in part on the flexibility of Salesforce’s cloud-based solutions.   

 

cloud computing applications slack
Slack

Slack

Location: San Francisco, California

How it’s using the cloud: Slack is a collaboration tool for teams and companies. Slack channels are essentially group messages and can be organized by individual, team, project, topic, etc. to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to communication. The cloud SaaS company even features video chatting and PDF file sharing, and integrates other cloud companies like DropBox and Salesforce.  

Industry impact: Numerous major organizations — including HelloFresh, NASA, Airbnb and Target — use Slack to communicate and collaborate.

 

cloud computing applications zoom
Zoom

Zoom

Location: San Jose, California

How it’s using the cloud: Zoom is a cloud-based software platform for audio and video conferencing that records meetings and saves them to the cloud so users can have access to them anytime, anywhere.  

Industry impact: Slack, Uber, NASDAQ and Ticketmaster all use Zoom to boost collaboration between teams and store meetings for future reference.

 

cloud computing applications iaas

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provides a virtualized computing infrastructure managed entirely over the Internet. IaaS is typically used in a few different ways, including as a testing environment for app development, as a website host and even as a platform for big data analysis. IaaS is becoming a popular cloud option because of its business continuity and its efficiency in delivering apps.

 

cloud computing applications digitalocean
DigitalOcean

DigitalOcean

Location: New York, New York

How it’s using the cloud: DigitalOcean’s platform helps product teams deploy, manage and scale new products. Under the IaaS platform, users can create multiple virtual machines in seconds, and they can even scale based on data storage and incoming traffic.

Industry impact: WeWork, Splunk and Slack all use DigitalOcean’s IaaS platform to deploy and scale their products.

 

cloud computing applications ibm
IBM

IBM

Location: Armonk, New York

How it’s using the cloud: IBM IaaS servers can be deployed in minutes to a few hours, depending on the cloud type. The tech giant’s “bare metal servers” take a few hours to deploy and can accommodate projects up to 3 terabytes. The “virtual servers” deploy in a matter of minutes and are useful for scalable projects that require flexibility.

Industry impact: Ricoh, American Airlines and AppLift all have used IBM’s IaaS platform to make cloud-based product development more efficient.

 

cloud computing applications datrium
Datrium

Datrium

Location: Sunnyvale, California

How it’s using the cloud: Datrium is a hybrid data management and cloud computing company. The company’s IaaS cloud features enhanced cybersecurity tools like blanket verification, built-in data back-up and data security measures.

Industry impact: Datrium recently scored a $60 million Series D funding led by Samsung, which will help the company explore more options in IaaS.

 

cloud computing applications paas

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is a cloud computing model that provides users with hosted development kits, applications management capabilities and database tools — the virtual resources companies need to build, deploy and launch their software applications. By outsourcing hosting, database security and data storage, companies avoid long-term investments (saving them lots of money).

 

cloud computing applications acquia
Acquia

Acquia

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

How it’s using the cloud: The Acquia Cloud is built specifically for Drupal 8 sites and applications. The PaaS technology is designed to be developer-friendly, with APIs, command line tools and integrations to streamline the development workflow.

Industry impact: Whole Foods, IBM, the BBC and Panasonic use Acquia’s Cloud to update and innovate on their Drupal 8 sites.

 

cloud computing applications amazon web services
Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Location: Seattle, Washington

How it’s using the cloud: AWS Lambda lets developers run code for any application or backend service without provisioning or managing servers. The pay-as-you-go model continuously scales along with a business to accommodate for real-time shifts in data storage and usage.

Industry impact: Well-known companies in many diverse industries use AWS Lambda, including The Seattle Times, Bustle, the Coca Cola Company and iRobot.

 

cloud computing applications heroku
Heroku

Heroku

Location: San Francisco, California

How it’s using the cloud: Heroku is a multi-language cloud app platform that lets developers deploy, scale and manage their applications. The flexibility of Heroku’s PaaS allows them to work in languages like Ruby, Java, Python, Perl and others. Giving developers the ability to code in a comfortable language reportedly speeds up app development.

Industry impact: Heroku boasts a very large list of well-known users like Lyft, Soundcloud, Macy’s, Charity: Water and Toyota.


cloud computing applications file storage

File Sharing and Data Storage

File sharing and data storage account for lots of cloud use, with individuals and businesses sharing large files through cloud-based softwares and outsourcing their data storage to off-premises data centers.

Pay-as-you-go models help businesses manage and scale data sharing and storage based on current needs. Best of all, there's no limit on either one. 

 

cloud computing applications dropbox
Dropbox

Dropbox

Location: San Francisco, California

How it’s using the cloud: Because Dropbox lets users share large files, it facilitates collaboration. Got a large Powerpoint, Photoshop or Sketch project that needs your team's input but makes your email choke? Dropbox it. 

Industry impact: Dropbox now allows the full integration of collaborative apps, like DocuSign and Vimeo, so users can upload contracts, video and other material for team collaboration.

 

cloud computing applications box
Box

Box

Location: Redwood City, California

How it’s using the cloud: Box lets anyone, anywhere securely manage, share and access files. Companies can fully-integrate Box into their custom business apps, and the platform allows them to share their content (regardless of size) for collaboration purposes.

Industry impact: Major universities like Duke, LSU, Georgia Tech and the University of Nebraska deployed Box campus-wide as a tool for collaborating and safeguarding content. 

 

cloud computing applications egnyte
Egnyte

Egnyte

Location: Mountain View, California

How it’s using the cloud: Egnyte’s platform allows for secure file sharing and content governance. The software-as-a-service (SaaS) company lets teams upload their files from anywhere to collaborate and work on projects.  

Industry impact: Fender Guitars, Buzzfeed and NASDAQ all use Egnyte’s platform to make project collaboration more secure.


cloud computing applications big data

Big Data Analytics

Because big data companies require massive amounts of storage and processing power for analysis purposes, lots of them are turning to the cloud for greater amounts of both, plus enhanced security for business records. 

 

cloud computing applications spins
SPINS

SPINS

Location: Chicago, Illinois

How it’s using the cloud: SPINS uses the cloud to store the big data it collects for brands, retailers and CPG companies in the natural products industry that seek better insights into everything from consumer trends to day-to-day store operations.

Industry impact: SPINS recently introduced its new business intelligence platform, SATORI, which gives brands and retailers an in-depth look at nutrition and allergen information for natural food products via the cloud. 

 

cloud computing applications collibra
Collibra

Collibra

Location: New York, New York

How it’s using the cloud: Collibra helps big data companies manage their cloud-based apps by providing frameworks for handling large amounts of data and automating processes to ensure that quality data is being ingested.

Industry impact: Belgium's largest telecommunications company, Proximus, chose Collibra to help manage its data governance using the company’s cloud-based regulatory technologies.

 

cloud computing applications civis analytics
Civis Analytics

Civis Analytics

Location: Chicago, Illinois

How it’s using the cloud: Civis Analytics builds custom consumer analytics software for companies seeking better insights into customer habits. The company provides consumer research and social science (predictive modeling, too) using cloud-stored data.

Industry impact: Civis Analytics has worked with numerous organizations in every sector, including nonprofit, government and consumer. Its most prominent clients include the 2012 Obama presidential campaign, Verizon, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Discovery Channel.


cloud computing applications cybersecurity

Data Governance and Cybersecurity

Data storage is only one aspect of cloud computing. As cloud-based security companies attempt to outmaneuver hackers and stay ahead of invasions, it’s also an increasingly secure way to protect sensitive data from cyber marauders.

 

cloud computing applications forcepoint
Forcepoint

Forcepoint

Location: Austin, Texas

How it’s using the cloud: The Forcepoint cloud-centric platform acts as a cybersecurity safeguard for data, users and networks. The company integrates cybersecurity tools that help businesses integrate SaaS products, safely operate on the public cloud and even reduces security endpoints, so cybercriminals have less of a chance of infiltrating cloud data.

Industry impact: Huisman, one of the world’s leading construction companies, tapped Forcepoint to create cloud-based cybersecurity tools to store and protect its sprawling stash of intellectual property.

 

cloud computing applications palo alto networks
Palo Alto Networks

Palo Alto Networks

Location: Santa Clara, California

How it’s using the cloud: Palo Alto Networks offers several cloud-based cybersecurity solutions for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) technologies. The VM-Series protects private and public cloud deployments, while the company’s Traps protect clouds against zero-day threats.

Industry impact: Palo Alto Networks features cloud platforms like AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. It also offers integrated SaaS applications like Slack, Facebook Workplace and Dropbox.

 

cloud computing applications carbonite
Carbonite

Carbonite

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

How it’s using the cloud: The Carbonite cloud protects a company’s information from data loss and ransomware. By safeguarding critical business data endpoints, Carbonite can limit the number of security breaches that occur within the cloud. Additionally, the company's product QuickCache provides businesses with quick data backup so nothing is lost in the event of a breach.

Industry impact: Carbonite recently announced an upgrade to its Server Backup VM Edition for Service Providers that protects virtualized environments both locally and in the service provider’s own cloud.

 

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