Cloud Computing: What Is It All About?

Although the concept dates back to the 1960s, it is only in more recent times that Cloud technology has taken the IT world by storm. In fact, Cloud services are currently undertaking the most rapid adoption of any technology to date.

What is Cloud?

With ‘Cloud’ and all its many related buzzwords (PaaS, SaaS etc) floating around, you could not be blamed for feeling a little lost in the midst of it all.

Cloud computing is an internet-based technology. It is an umbrella term used to describe a number of different concepts. The purpose of Cloud computing is to help consumers get the most from their computers in the most simplified way.

The ‘Cloud’ is used as a metaphor for the internet and a key aspect of Cloud computing is the use of the internet to exercise the typical functions of your computer. This provides a ‘lighter option’ for your computer by alleviating the sole dependencies of servers and hardwares as data is easily accessible through an internet channel.

What forms does it come in?

It may seem complex but it is likely that Cloud computing has played a part of your business or personal life at some point. Google Apps are a popular example of Cloud technology. This type of of cloud provision is known as a public cloud as shared services are available to all consumers.

Many businesses opt to adopt Cloud technologies without using a third party. To do this, a cloud-like infrastructure is introduced into their data centre. This type of cloud usage is referred to as a private cloud.

Hybrid cloud technology denotes a combined utilisation of both public and private cloud services.

Is it a piece of software?

Google Apps and Google Docs are examples of how cloud technologies are used in software form.These are pre made packages which can be accessed through a web browser. This is known as SaaS (software as a service).

There are a number of other dimensions to Cloud technology. PaaS (platform as a service) describes an operating system, web server or computer language interpreter which developers can then build applications on. Windows Azure and Google App Engine are examples of such platforms.

At the earliest part of the Cloud services chain is IaaS (infrastructure as a service). IaaS offerings typically come in the form of servers (often virtual), networks and firewalls, delivered on a pay-as-you-go basis. Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is a popular example of this type of infrastructure. IaaS forms the ‘bread and butter’ of cloud technology of which PaaS and SaaS build upon.

To Cloud or not to Cloud?

There are a number of benefits to cloud technology which contribute to its popularity. For many businesses incorporating cloud technologies can help to keep overheads and expenditures down. The flexibility of the pay-as-you-go format offered by many cloud providers also tends to appeal to smaller businesses. It is widely believed that cloud services offer greater efficiency and performance potential than traditional options.

However it is not the case that one option is right and the other is wrong; cloud services mark a progression in the technological market which some companies may find beneficial. An IT solutions company could offer you more information on how cloud technology can help your business and provide you with full migration and support services.

John Hughes writes for Bristol Computer Support organization Competent Solutions, providing you with expert IT solutions to help your business move forward.