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What is Cloud Computing?

May 4, 2023

by Newsha Makooi
Vice President and Dean of Cloud Computing, IT, and Cybersecurity - WGU College of IT

Cloud computing has revolutionized the way organizations manage and deliver technology services. With its scalable and flexible infrastructure, cloud computing has become a popular choice for businesses seeking to optimize their IT operations. The emergence of different cloud models—such as the Super Cloud, Hybrid Cloud, and Private Cloud—offers a wide range of deployment options to meet the diverse needs of organizations. Given the rapid growth of the cloud computing industry, pursuing an education and career in this field can be a rewarding choice for prospective students interested in technology.

Cloud Computing Models

Cloud computing is the delivery of computing resources, including software, storage, and processing power, over the internet. This model allows users to access these resources on-demand and pay only for what they use. Let's take a closer look at three key cloud models:

  • Super Cloud: The Super Cloud, also known as a "multi-cloud" or "cloud of clouds," is a cloud computing model that integrates multiple cloud services from different providers. This model enables organizations to distribute their workloads across multiple cloud environments, thereby achieving greater flexibility and avoiding vendor lock-in. Super Cloud is ideal for organizations seeking to leverage the best features of different cloud providers and optimize their cloud strategy.
  • Hybrid Cloud: The Hybrid Cloud model combines the use of private cloud infrastructure with public cloud services. This model allows organizations to keep sensitive data and applications in a secure private cloud while leveraging the scalability and cost-effectiveness of public cloud services for less critical workloads. Hybrid Cloud is suitable for organizations that require a balance between security, compliance, and flexibility.
  • Private Cloud: Private Cloud is a cloud computing model where the infrastructure and services are dedicated exclusively to a single organization. This model offers greater control and security, making it ideal for organizations with strict compliance and regulatory requirements. Private Cloud can be hosted on-premises or in a data center managed by a third-party provider.


The three cloud models differ in terms of deployment, flexibility, cost and security:


  • Super Cloud involves utilizing multiple cloud providers.
  • Hybrid Cloud combines private and public cloud resources.
  • Private Cloud is limited to a single organization's dedicated infrastructure.


  • Super Cloud offers the most flexibility by allowing organizations to choose the best services from multiple providers.
  • Hybrid Cloud provides flexibility in managing workloads across private and public environments.
  • Private Cloud is less flexible but offers customization and control.


  • Super Cloud may incur higher management costs due to the complexity of integrating multiple providers.
  • Hybrid Cloud offers cost savings by using public cloud services for scalable workloads.
  • Private Cloud can have higher upfront costs but provides predictable expenses.


  • Super Cloud requires careful management of security across multiple providers.
  • Hybrid Cloud allows sensitive data to be kept in a private cloud while utilizing public cloud resources.
  • Private Cloud offers the highest level of security and privacy.

Education in Cloud Computing: Pathways and Opportunities

The field of cloud computing is continuously evolving, driven by technological advancements and the growing adoption of cloud-based solutions by organizations worldwide. As a result, there is an increasing demand for skilled professionals who can navigate and excel in this dynamic landscape. For individuals interested in pursuing a career in cloud computing, there are various educational pathways and opportunities available that can help them acquire the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in this field.

Formal Education

  • Bachelor's degree: A bachelor's degree in computer science, information technology, cloud computing or a related field provides a strong foundation for a career in cloud computing. These programs typically cover core concepts, programming languages, data structures, algorithms, and operating systems. Additionally, some programs may offer specialized courses in cloud computing, networking, and distributed systems, which provide valuable insights into cloud architecture and services.
  • Master's degree: A master's degree in cloud computing, computer science, or a related field offers advanced knowledge and specialization in cloud technologies. These programs delve deeper into topics such as cloud security, virtualization, cloud application development, and big data analytics. Some programs also offer hands-on projects and research opportunities that allow students to apply their learning in real-world scenarios.


Certifications play a critical role in validating an individual's expertise in specific cloud platforms and technologies. Many cloud service providers and professional organizations offer certifications that cover a range of skill levels, from foundational to advanced. Some popular cloud computing certifications include:

  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate: This certification, offered by Amazon Web Services (AWS), validates an individual's ability to design and deploy scalable, secure, and robust applications on the AWS cloud platform.
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate: This certification, offered by Microsoft, is designed for individuals who manage and maintain Microsoft Azure cloud environments. It covers topics such as Azure compute, storage, networking, and security.
  • Google Cloud Certified – Associate Cloud Engineer: This certification, offered by Google Cloud, is designed for individuals who can deploy, monitor, and maintain projects on the Google Cloud Platform. It covers topics such as cloud infrastructure, security, and application management.
  • Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA): This certification, offered by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), validates an individual's ability to administer Kubernetes clusters, a key technology for container orchestration in cloud-native environments.

Continuing Education and Professional Development

  • Online Courses: Numerous online platforms offer a wide range of cloud computing courses taught by industry experts. These courses cover various topics, from the fundamentals of cloud computing to advanced topics such as machine learning in the cloud and serverless computing. Online courses are a flexible and accessible way for individuals to expand their knowledge and skills at their own pace.
  • Workshops and Bootcamps: Cloud computing workshops and bootcamps provide intensive, hands-on training in specific cloud technologies and practices. These programs often include practical exercises, case studies, and group projects, allowing participants to gain practical experience in working with cloud environments.
  • Industry Conferences: Attending industry conferences, such as AWS re:Invent, Microsoft Ignite, and Google Cloud Next, provides an opportunity to learn about the latest trends and developments in cloud computing. These events often feature keynote presentations, technical sessions, and networking opportunities, enabling participants to connect with industry leaders and peers.

Education in cloud computing encompasses a variety of pathways and opportunities that cater to different learning preferences and career goals. Whether through formal degree programs, certifications, online courses, or professional development events, individuals can build a solid foundation in cloud computing and stay updated with emerging technologies and best practices.

Market Opportunities

The cloud computing industry is expected to witness continued and sustained growth in the coming years. Organizations continue to adopt cloud services to enhance agility, scalability, and cost-efficiency. Key market trends include the increasing demand for hybrid cloud solutions, the rise of edge computing, and the adoption of cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) services.

As businesses increasingly seek to harness the benefits of cloud computing, there is a growing need for skilled cloud professionals who can design, deploy, and manage cloud infrastructure and applications. Job roles in this field may include cloud architects, cloud engineers, cloud security specialists, and cloud administrators.

Over the next one to five years, several market opportunities are likely to grow:

  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Adoption: Enterprises are increasingly using cloud services to process their business workloads, with approximately 94% of all business workloads running on the cloud. Of that number, 75% runs as part of Software-as-a Service (SaaS) offerings. SaaS provides businesses with access to software applications on a subscription basis, eliminating the need for on-premises installation and maintenance. This trend is expected to continue as organizations seek cost-effective and scalable software solutions.
  • Growth of the Global Cloud Computing Market: The global cloud computing market is on a rapid growth trajectory. By the end of 2025, the market is projected to surpass the $800 billion mark. This significant growth is driven by increasing cloud adoption across various industries and the recognition of cloud computing as a key enabler of digital transformation.
  • Rising Cloud Spending: The total end-user spending on cloud services exceeded $397.5 billion in 2022. The increasing reliance on cloud services for business operations, coupled with the flexibility and cost savings offered by the cloud, contributes to higher cloud spending by organizations worldwide.
  • Multi-Cloud Strategy: Over 92% of enterprises have adopted a multi-cloud strategy, utilizing multiple cloud service providers to meet their diverse IT requirements. Multi-cloud adoption offers benefits such as increased flexibility, risk mitigation, and avoidance of vendor lock-in. As enterprises continue to seek the best capabilities from different cloud providers, the prevalence of multi-cloud strategies is expected to grow.
  • Cloud-Native Workloads: By 2025, it is anticipated that businesses will deploy 95% of all new workloads on cloud-native platforms. Cloud-native technologies, such as containers and microservices, enable the development and deployment of applications that are designed to take full advantage of cloud scalability and resilience. This trend indicates a shift towards more agile and scalable application development practices.
  • Serverless Computing: The demand for serverless technologies is projected to grow by 22.6% between 2022 and 2026. Serverless computing is a cloud model that abstracts away server management and infrastructure provisioning, allowing developers to focus on writing code and delivering features. The pay-as-you-go pricing model and automatic scaling capabilities of serverless computing make it an attractive option for startups and businesses looking to optimize costs and improve agility.
  • AI and ML in the Cloud: The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) into cloud platforms is transforming business processes and decision-making. Experts project that the AI market value will reach $850.61 billion by 2028, and cloud computing will play a major role in this growth. The cloud provides the necessary processing power and data bandwidth for AI/ML workloads, making these technologies more accessible and cost-effective for businesses of all sizes.

The cloud computing industry presents a wealth of opportunities for businesses and IT professionals. The growing adoption of cloud services, the shift towards cloud-native development, and the integration of AI/ML capabilities are shaping the future of technology and business. For individuals considering a career in cloud computing, this dynamic and evolving field offers the potential for innovation, growth, and impact.

Salaries in the cloud computing industry can vary significantly based on factors such as job role, experience level, location, and certifications. Here are some general salary ranges for cloud computing roles in the United States:

  • Entry-Level Positions: Entry-level roles in cloud computing, such as cloud support specialists or junior cloud engineers, typically pay an average base salary of around $81,519 per year. These roles are suited for individuals who are just starting their career in cloud computing and may have recently graduated from a relevant degree program or earned cloud certifications.
  • Senior Roles (8+ years of experience): Senior roles in cloud computing, such as cloud architects, cloud solutions architects, or cloud security specialists, can command higher salaries. These professionals typically have extensive experience and expertise in designing, implementing, and managing cloud environments. The average base salary for senior roles in the US can be around $136,803 per year or more, depending on the level of responsibility and the complexity of the projects that they manage.

Cloud computing continues to be a rapidly growing field, and skilled professionals in this industry are in high demand. Pursuing a career in cloud computing can offer competitive compensation, opportunities for advancement, and the potential to work with cutting-edge technologies that are shaping the future of IT and business.

For prospective students interested in a career in technology and cloud computing, there is no better time to get started. By pursuing formal education, certifications, and hands-on experience, individuals can acquire the skills needed to thrive in this dynamic and rapidly evolving field. With ample market opportunities on the horizon, a career in cloud computing offers the potential for growth, innovation, and impact.

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