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Cloud Computing by Librarian Nicholas Saturno 

 

 

What is Cloud Computing? 

Cloud computing is the delivery of different services through the Internet, including data storage, servers, databases, networking, and software. Cloud-based storage makes it possible to save files to a remote database and retrieve them on demand.  

 

There are three main service models of cloud computing – Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). 

Infrastructure-as-a-Service, commonly referred to as simply “IaaS,” is a form of cloud computing that delivers fundamental compute, network, and storage resources to consumers on-demand, over the internet, and on a pay-as-you-go basis. 

Platform as a service (PaaS) is a complete development and deployment environment in the cloud, with resources that enable you to deliver everything from simple cloud-based apps to sophisticated, cloud-enabled enterprise applications. 

Software as a service (or SaaS) is a way of delivering applications over the Internet—as a service. Instead of installing and maintaining software, you simply access it via the Internet, freeing yourself from complex software and hardware management. 

Most business will have a hybrid environment, meaning some onsite computer hardware and some cloud based. The more services you store in the cloud, the more expensive it will be. Most businesses will opt for the Platform as a service. Once the infrastructure is setup in the cloud, you can create VM’s (virtual machines) on the infrastructure you have in the cloud. This is both cost effective and easy to manage. You have by not having a physical footprint in your data center, and all the costs of keeping your environment climate controlled.  

 

Cloud Big Players 

Most big corporations offer some type of cloud services. Amazon has Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Clod to name a few.  

What are examples of cloud computing? 

Cloud computing underpins a vast number of services. That includes consumer services like Gmail or the cloud back-up of the photos on your smartphone, though to the services which allow large enterprises to host all their data and run all their applications in the cloud. Netflix relies on cloud computing services to run its video streaming service and its other business systems too and have several other organizations. 

Cloud computing is becoming the default option for many apps: software vendors are increasingly offering their applications as services over the internet rather than standalone products as they try to switch to a subscription model. However, there is a potential downside to cloud computing, in that it can also introduce new costs and new risks for companies using it. 

Why is it called cloud computing? 

A fundamental concept behind cloud computing is that the location of the service, and many of the details such as the hardware or operating system on which it is running, are largely irrelevant to the user. It's with this in mind that the metaphor of the cloud was borrowed from old telecoms network schematics, in which the public telephone network (and later the internet) was often represented as a cloud to denote that the just didn't matter. 

Cloud computing benefits 

 

The exact benefits will vary according to the type of cloud service being used but, fundamentally, using cloud services means companies not having to buy or maintain their own computing infrastructure. 

 No more buying servers, updating applications or operating systems, or decommissioning and disposing of hardware or software when it is out of date, as it is all taken care of by the supplier. For commodity applications, such as email, it can make sense to switch to a cloud provider, rather than rely on in-house skills. A company that specializes in running and securing these services is likely to have better skills and more experienced staff than a small business could afford to hire, so cloud services may be able to deliver a more secure and efficient service to end users. 

 Using cloud services means companies can move faster on projects and test out concepts without lengthy procurement and big upfront costs, because firms only pay for the resources they consume. This concept of business agility is often mentioned by cloud advocates as a key benefit. The ability to spin up new services without the time and effort associated with traditional IT procurement should mean that is easier to get going with new applications faster. And if a new application turns out to be a wildly popular the elastic nature of the cloud means it is easier to scale it up fast. 

 For a company with an application that has big peaks in usage, for example that is only used at a particular time of the week or year, it may make financial sense to have it hosted in the cloud, rather than have dedicated hardware and software laying idle for much of the time. Moving to a cloud hosted application for services like email or CRM could remove a burden on internal IT staff, and if such applications don't generate much competitive advantage, there will be little other impact.