Cloud Computing is a form of computing in which all applications, information and resources are managed in a virtual ecosystem. The term cloud computing, specifically the use of the information “cloud”, it meant to represent the character and structure of cloud computing. Cloud computing involves virtual hosted environments allowing users to connect to the sets being hosted over the internet.
Google Apps is a great example of cloud computing as companies to no longer require the need for installed information processing software, in house email servers, multiple IT personnel and many more cost saving advantages. Google Apps allows companies to access all sets including email, website hosting, calendar, document editing/creation and much more directly by a web browser. The advantage to using Google Apps is increased productivity, security, lower IT costs and data backup. Microsoft has also entered the cloud computing vicinity by integrating its current software such as information and outlook with online storage and easy accessibility.
Many hosting companies and already a few internet retailers are beginning to offer cloud hosting sets. Rackspace, an internet hosting company, has begun to offer cloud hosting for clients who wish to have personal cloud applications in an ecosystem controlled by them. Amazon.com is also offering cloud hosting sets due to its large infrastructure and internet bandwidth capabilities. Most cloud hosting companies offer easy setup and creation of private cloud hosting with simple user interfaces. Most cloud hosting companies have per usage pricing instead of flat rate pricing. Users simply pay for the amount of processing, bandwidth and storage that they use. This pricing method benefits both cloud hosting companies and end users.
There are three main variations of cloud computing:
- IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service): The need for expensive equipment is outsourced. Instead of companies purchasing expensive equipment including servers, hard drives and networking equipment, they would instead be used over the Cloud and hosted by a cloud computing company. The business entity would use the virtual equipment on a cost usage basis.
- PaaS (Platform as a Service): Applications are run off of cloud servers hosted virtually. A small company selling cloud applications to businesses will use PaaS to “great number” the sold cloud applications and have them run off of the cloud servers instead of having them run off of in-house servers. The company selling the applications pays for the sets based on a processor/bandwidth basis.
- SaaS (Software as a Service): Cloud applications are paid for on a per use basis and not sold in bulk licenses. This allows small companies to buy a la carte licensing for applications they may use rarely. Instead of purchasing 15 licenses a company can instead only pay when the software is used and removing the limits on how many machines the software can be installed on.
IaaS, Infrastructure as a Service, is currently the most widely used cloud service. IaaS allows small, medium and already large companies to cut costs considerably. Companies can completely remove the need for expensive network equipment, expensive bandwidth to sustain their network, expensive network storage equipment and much more. A company only pays for what they use from the cloud infrastructure consequently eliminating the capital lost due to without of usage from in house network equipment, bandwidth, etc. As IaaS gains more popularity and more cloud hosting companies appear, costs can potentially drop already more due to oversupply and increased cloud hosting competition.
PaaS, Platform as a Service, is second to IaaS in terms of popularity and consumer adoption. A small company selling cloud applications and/or cloud sets does not have to great number the applications but can instead have them hosted in other places. Platform as a Service saves the company selling the applications/sets as expensive network equipment, bandwidth and the need for additional IT personnel are instead outsourced to a cloud hosting company. This allows cloud application companies and already small developers the ability to go into the cloud application market without the need for important startup capital. PaaS has the possible to overtake IaaS in terms of consumer adoption and overall use.
SaaS, Software as a Service, is the least used cloud hosting service. It is a win-win for both consumers and the software companies. Consumers save money as heavily priced software licenses are no longer necessary due to the fact that consumers are only paying when the software is used. The need to buy software in bulk is removed and every consumers’ software needs are custom suited based on usage. This is also a win for cloud software companies as it will attract more consumers due to the custom pricing form. Consumers who could not provide the high cost of bulk software licenses will now be able to buy based directly on their software usage needs. SaaS has the possible to completely revolutionize the software industry and may already curb software piracy.
The customized character of cloud computing is what makes it such a popular and newly adopted internet technology. It will revolutionize the way that networking and everyday computing is run. It is a great win-win situation for both cloud companies and consumers.
There are also disadvantages to cloud computing, specifically in online storage and client applications. A company which utilizes cloud computing to great number its email, document editing, calendars and other applications can be shut down if a cloud hosting company experiences downtime. This specific disadvantage was the case on February 24th, 2009, when Google Apps in addition as Gmail were down for several hours. The downtime also reiterated that if Google can go down so can any other hosting companies. Confidence in cloud computing may have been hindered after this specific downtime although Google has assured it will not happen again. Google Apps sets over 1million business around the world and is the leader in cloud computing applications.
Security is also a possible disadvantage to cloud computing. Companies that are willing to adopt the ability to great number their sets on the cloud may be reluctant to do so until the security of cloud computing has been heavily demonstrated and thoroughly tested. Large companies may consider the additional costs of in-house network hosting outweigh the possible security risks associated with cloud hosting. A security breach involving a companys’ cloud information storage has the possible for disaster. However, hacking and security breaches are rampant for in-house IT hosting such as millions of credit card numbers being stolen in addition as detailed customer information. If cloud computing can prove that its security is much better than any in-house hosting this may help it to grow and overtake the percentage of companies that have in-house IT infrastructures.
Cloud computing is nevertheless in its beginning and is expected to grow and revolutionize the way of everyday computing. Many theorize that cloud computing will one day take over today’s desktop computing altogether. Until intense applications are developed for use over the cloud, desktop computing will keep the important of everyday computing. Cloud computing innovation is rapid and as new cloud technologies appear more people will start to adopt the cloud.
The advantages of the cloud heavily outweigh the disadvantages. As better cloud computing technologies are developed and redundancy is fine tuned, the disadvantages will slowly become out of use. As mentioned, cloud computing is in its beginning and new cloud technologies are growing exponentially. One day we will all use the cloud. In-house IT hosting in addition as desktop computing may become a thing of the past.