The ‘cloud’ is the real buzz, but what is it, where is the cloud? You must have come across the term ‘cloud computing’ over dozen times, or even asked yourself, because it is everywhere now.
What is cloud computing?
In the most basic terms, cloud computing refers to storing and accessing data or programs over the Internet instead to or from your computer’s hard drive.
The term ‘cloud’ is simply a metaphor meaning the Internet.
In the days of flowcharts and presentations, people would refer to the giant server-farm infrastructure of the Internet as nothing more than an inflated, white cloud, accepting connections from other and handing out information as it floats.
What Cloud Computing is Not?
Cloud computing is NOT about your computer hard drive. When you store data on your hard drive and run programs from it, it is known as the ‘local storage’ or computing. Everything you require is physically near you, meaning accessing your data is relatively fast and easy, either for that single computer, or for a computers in a ‘local network’.
For over a decade, that was how the computer industry functioned, working on your hard drive; most people believe that it is better than cloud computing, for reasons we will explain soon.
Having a dedicated network attached storage (NAS) hardware or server in your home is also not ‘cloud computing’. If you are storing data on a home or office network and accessing it, you are not utilizing the cloud, so to speak. However, there are NAS that allows you to access resources remotely over the Internet, and there is at least one NAS named “My Cloud,” just to make thing even more confusing.
In order for it to be considered ‘cloud computing,’ you need to access your data or run your programs over the web, or at least, have that data synchronized with other information over the Internet.
In a big business, you may know about everything about what is happening on the other end of the connection; but as an individual user, you may not have any idea about the massive data processing happening on the other side.
However, the result is the same: With an internet connection, cloud computing can be done anytime, and from anywhere.
3 Main Benefits of Cloud Computing
Just like the electricity, cloud computing allows companies and consumers to consume compute resources as an utility, instead of building and maintaining computing infrastructure in-house.
Cloud computer offers several incredible benefits for small-to-medium businesses and individual users alike. Let us look at the top three main benefits of cloud computing:
Self-service provisioning: – Cloud user can select a service from a list of services for provisioning with little or no intervention from the cloud operator.
Scalable: – Individuals and companies can upgrade as their computing needs increases and then downgrade as their demand decreases.
‘Pay-as-you-go’ model: – Users only pay for the resources and workloads they use, allowing the computing resources to be measured at a very minute/granular level.
For a more in-depth look at the benefits of cloud computing check out my article on the Top 6 Benefits Of Using Cloud Services.
Cloud Computing: How it Works
The major goal of cloud computing is utilizing the power of ‘traditional’ high-performance computing, or supercomputing – often used by military and research facilities – in a consumer oriented applications such as financial portfolios, and to perform trillions of computations a second, to deliver personalized information, to offer data storage, and to power online computer games, among others.
In order to deliver this high-end performance to consumers, cloud computing utilizes large groups of server networks that are typically running on low-cost PCs having specialized connections to spread / share data processing tasks among them.
In this shared IT infrastructure, vast pools of systems are linked together. Often times, ‘virtualization’ techniques are used to maximize the performance of cloud computing.
Cloud Computing in Corporate Data Centers & Small-Medium Business
In recent years, cloud computing has started to garner a huge support in corporate data centers as it allows the data centers to run like the Internet through the process that enables computing resources to be accessed as well as shared as virtual resources in a scalable and secure manner.
In the small and medium business (SMB) sector, people often find themselves lacking time and financial resources to purchase, apply, and maintain an infrastructure such as the software, the server and the storage. Cloud computing can easily remove that problem by allowing SMBs to manage their infrastructure as a turnkey solution (package).
In cloud computing, small businesses can access only those resources they signed up for. Further, they can even expand or shrink their services at any time as their business requirement change. The pay-as-you go subscription model is particularly designed to allow SMBs easily add or remove services and pay only for what they use.
Please share your experience using cloud computing for your business.