Cloud computing overview

Cloud computing is an emerging computing technology that uses the internet and central remote servers to maintain data and applications. For this reason many small and medium size business could benefit from this new computing technology since it gives a company the ability to run software applications from a remote source and they would only pay for the application and the amount of time the software is used for thus cutting cost.

Not virtualization

Although this sound similar to virtualization and cloud computing are not the same: Virtualization and other

technologies that largely came in from the grassroots level have had far more impact of late than enterprise-spanning products such as CA's Unicenter. With a comprehensive set of solutions that automate complex processes and address IT challenges of P2V/V2V conversions, disaster recovery, storage optimization, process automation and provisioning, and performance monitoring and chargeback just to name some. Cloud computing relies heavily on virtual machines (VMs) and virtualization, which are spawned on demand to meet user needs. Cloud services often provide common business applications online that are accessed from a web browser, while the software and data are stored on the servers.

What exactly is Cloud computing?

The easy way of describing it is as a cluster of remote servers that host applications that is similar to the hosting of a Website. These servers provide services often provide common business applications online that are accessed from a web browser, while the software and data are stored on the remote servers. This type of computing can be grouped into 3 categories – Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS).

A cloud service has three distinct characteristics that differentiate it from traditional hosting. It is sold on demand, typically by the minute or the hour; it is elastic -- a user can have as much or as little of a service as they want at any given time; and the service is fully managed by the provider (the consumer needs nothing but a personal computer and Internet access). Significant innovations in virtualization and distributed computing, as well as improved access to high-speed Internet and a weak economy, have accelerated interest in cloud computing.

Cloud can be private or public

A public cloud sells services to anyone on the Internet. (Currently, Amazon Web Services is the largest public cloud provider.) A private cloud is a proprietary network or a data center that supplies hosted services to a limited number of people. When a service provider uses public cloud resources to create their private cloud, the result is called a virtual private cloud. Private or public, the goal of cloud computing is to provide easy, scalable access to computing resources and IT services.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service like Amazon and Yahoo Web Services provides virtual server instances with unique IP addresses and blocks of storage on demand. Customers use the provider's application program interface (API) to start, stop, access and configure their virtual servers and storage. In the enterprise, cloud computing allows a company to pay for only as much capacity as is needed, and bring more online as soon as required. Because this pay-for-what-you-use model resembles the way electricity, fuel and water are consumed, it's sometimes referred to as utility computing.

Pros and Cons of the cloud

One of the advantages of using a cloud service is that a company does not have to invest in servers or the dedicated room and internal network connections plus the cost for powering of these systems 24 hours a day. Another advantage is that you don’t have to pay for the software applications that are required when running a server. You would not have to worry about the cost the constant updates either since you only have to pay for what is used from the cloud.

The biggest disadvantage to this type of computing is that it is depending upon a network connection. The network connection would regulate the speed at which the applications would run on the computer system depending on the application. Basically the slower the connection the longer it would take to perform an action on the remote server and if you lose connection you would not have the ability to do any work with that application. The more users that need to access the cloud from a company would demand higher network speeds capabilities which might require additional cost. Another disadvantage would be that you might not limited ability on how the applications runs your computer systems or you can’t customize to your business the way you wish.

In all Cloud computing has many advantages for smaller and midsize companies or even a home based business. By reduce the cost involved with running servers and applications that are needed by many businesses today.

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