‘The Cloud’ has become a real buzzword” but what is it, where is it, and how does it impact what you do on your computer? Cloud computing is defined as the practice of making use of a network of remote servers on the internet to process, manage, and store data. In the simplest terms, it means storing and accessing your data and running your programs via the internet rather than using your personal computer’s hard drive or a local server. The term is a metaphor for the internet that comes from the times when presentations and flowcharts represented the gigantic infrastructure of the internet as a fluffy white floating cloud doling out information.
When you use your hard drive to store data and run programs it’s called local computing and storage. For decades, working off a hard drive was the only way the computer industry functioned. Everything needed was physically close and easily accessible for that one computer or others working on a local network. Cloud computing is not about using your hard drive and does not have a dedicated NAS (Network Attached Storage) server or hardware in residence. Cloud computing means you access your data and programs over the internet or have it synced with other information via the Web. Typically an individual user is unaware of the massive data processing that happens on the other side of a connection as cloud computing can be done at any time and anywhere.
Business vs Consumer Cloud Computing
When it comes to big business there is an entirely different version of the cloud. Businesses are able to implement software like SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) where they subscribe to access an application over the internet, for example, Salesforce.com. By using PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) a company can customize its own applications for use by everyone in the business. There is also the mighty IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service where subscribers like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Rackspace provide a platform that can be rented out. An example is Netflix that uses the cloud services of Amazon to provide their customers with services. The cloud computing market was generating over $100 billion per year in 2012 which is estimated to increase to about $500 billion by the year 2020.
The Benefits of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing provides for adaptable applications and programs that are customizable while owners are allowed full control over the core code.
Because the cloud is hosted by a third party it provides users with greater assurances of reliability and easy access to customer support when there are problems.
Cloud software provides business users with the opportunity to offer personalized portals and applications to a number of tenants or customers.
In today’s ‘Internet of Things,’ it becomes essential that software can integrate with other applications and function across every device. Cloud applications make this possible.
Due to increased resources for centralization and security of data, cloud computing can guarantee a more secure computing environment.
Traditional business applications can be very expensive and complicated to run, often requiring a team of experts to configure, install, run, test, update, and secure a variety of software and hardware applications. When this effort is multiplied across hundreds of apps it becomes easy to see why even the biggest businesses with the best IT teams aren’t getting the apps they need, and small to mid-sized companies don’t stand a chance. For these types of situations, the affordability of cloud-hosted applications becomes an essential tool.