Friday, 14 October 2011

Overview of Cloud Computing


Overview of Cloud Computing





Although many conversations center around cloud computing, few of the participants can accurately describe basic questions, such as what is cloud computing and what are the benefits? Most people agree that cloud computing will become a vital part of how people do business. But the question is, how? In this three-part series, we will attempt to clear up common misconceptions about what cloud computing is, what it can do, and what it may eventually encompass.
Part One: What Is It?
In its simplest terms, cloud computing can be described as a way to house data and applications in remote central servers that can be accessed and updated by multiple users simultaneously. Essentially, a standard desktop or laptop computer becomes a portal where users tap into programs or information through the internet. However, the way that users access the information or applications is not quite as simple as logging into a website. The platforms that manage or enable access, as well as the actual application themselves, and the infrastructure required to coordinate all of these elements, form the basic elements of cloud computing.
Google's App Engine is an example of a platform, where users may access the apps through the platform. The apps themselves provide functions or services that are based on data collected from a variety of different sources. Some applications are more specific to industry, such as a sales software suite that tracks the individual calls and progress of a team of roaming representatives who can input their information from a mobile device into a centralized application that displays all information in real time. The fee systems for these services constitute the infrastructure.
Because it is still relatively new, some development companies specialize in one area, while other companies have attempted to build a more cohesive model that offers all three principal components. Most of the money currently made by cloud computing is generated by who pays for the storage/operation fees. Several applications require users to pay for a server which runs all of their software and applications, while others charge users a licensing or subscription fee to use their applications. These licensing fees cover the cost of running the server. Companies benefit from this arrangement principally because off-site dedicated servers are cheaper to maintain and house than in-house versions. Additionally, the hazard of software crashes and subsequent data loss is eliminated by virtue of the enormous operating power of the remote central servers.
With this broad overview in mind, in tomorrow's article we will explore the most common implementations of cloud computing.

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