Web Services

What is the Cloud?


14. December 2010


Definition of Cloud Computing

Most users won’t ever really need to know the definition of the Cloud but the concept in itself is fairly interesting. At a minimal level Cloud computing combines three different types of technologies, which is why the definition for the Cloud can be so confusing. A brief overview of these three technologies is as follows:

  • Grid Computing – Allows multiple servers to combine into one large server. The awesome thing about grid computing is if one of the nodes or servers fails the grid as a whole remains unaffected, and you the user, also remains unaffected.
  • Utility Computing – Another type of technology that is gaining more attention in the IT world and has become an extremely cost effective way to pay for services. Utility computing essentially means the user only gets charged for what they use, no more and no less. This is often compared to an electric or water bill, which I will get into later.
  • On-demand Computing or SaaS – (My favorite!) Most cloud services can be managed from the internet. You can access your web software services from anywhere you access the internet. What this means for the user is that you could seriously damage your own computer, but with all of your data and files on the Cloud, you wouldn’t lose anything!

What the Cloud Means for IT

When a business decides to choose a cloud provider, they don’t have to worry about in house IT to run checks on such software, manage the everyday software problems, compute server needs, maintain products or set up web services. In house IT theoretically, can be completely replaced by Cloud hardware and services. For example, if a business cuts down on their own servers by implementing the Cloud, there would be a lot less need to employ IT experts, thus saving a substantial amount of time and money.

The Utility Concept of the Cloud

People familiar with the Cloud often use electricity as a metaphor to describe how it works as a utility. The reason people use this particular metaphor is because when using the Cloud, users are charged based on only the amount of computing they use, much like paying for an electric or water bill. IT companies make services available through the Cloud, and charge users for what they use, as opposed to charging a monthly or annual flat rate. Cloud computing has been around since the 1960s but just recently has become more affordable. For many businesses this is an easy way to cut down IT costs. The Cloud scales computing power cost down drastically and in an efficient way.

Hopefully I’ve clarified what cloud computing is and how it works. Here are a couple other informative reads: