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Cloud Computing 101

Why Cloud Computing?

Through tougher economic times, businesses and schools are looking for opportunities to overcome budgetary challenges. Many have found solace in utilizing new information technologies. One technology that both companies and institutions of higher learning can take advantage of is cloud computing. It offers the potential to be more efficient and to save money on resources.

Cloud Computing 101: What is Cloud Computing?

With cloud computing, there is network access to a pool of configurable resources such as servers, storage and applications. As such, there is little management needed. The resources can be allocated to all computers in a network. The basis is a remote server, one that can be changed from any device that is part of its cloud. Every time you upload a new video on YouTube, it changes YouTube ever so slightly – there is one more video that will pop up for certain search terms. Another great example is a Google Doc. These are documents that can be accessed by two or more people at the same time and never need to be forwarded through e-mail or messaging service. Google Docs help to keep data current, as do the many other offerings when using a cloud service.

What Are the Essential Characteristics of Cloud Computing?

Cloud service has five essential characteristics that set it apart from other types of computing:

  1. On-Demand Self-Service: Users can access network storage without having to interact with others. Gone are the days where coworkers will have to frantically send each other e-mails asking “can you forward me that document?” The document is accessible and able to be modified by all of the people who need it.
  2. Broad Network Access: It’s fairly easy to fathom small businesses in a single office sharing resources, but what about multinational corporations? Cloud computing can take place across long distances, meaning that the network could expand to computers in other countries if necessary.
  3. Resource Pooling: A network can share storage space and it can also share memory, bandwidth and processing power. Companies often outsource a cloud service which saves them the time and money it would cost to build their own infrastructure.
  4. Rapid Elasticity: A cloud network can expand and contract. When outsourcing, it is never a difficult task to include or exclude new computers in a cloud. However a larger capacity of users means that a server will need to be more powerful.
  5. Measured Service: With rapid elasticity, cloud computing can affect two computers or all of the computers in the world. The size of the service will be directly related to how much it will cost to operate. For a company that is outsourcing their cloud, this is an important factor to consider.

Cloud Models

  1. Public Clouds/External Clouds: Generally speaking, public clouds are those that can be used by anyone over the Internet. Some public cloud services are offered for free while others ask a fee for usage.
  2. Private Clouds/Internal Clouds/Corporate Clouds: Private clouds provide services to a specified list of people and it is protected by a firewall. Private clouds are often called internal clouds or corporate clouds because they are what companies use when they only want to share resources between employees.
  3. Community Cloud: The third and final type of cloud computing, community clouds, are used by organizations or people with similar concerns. Multiple groups, or chapters of the same group fighting for the same cause can share resources. Community clouds are exclusive like private clouds, but they can be more elastic like public clouds. One example is Google’s Gov Cloud.

Service Models

  1. Infrastructure as Service (IaaS): With this service model an organization outsources the equipment that supports their cloud. The servers and all networking components are maintained by a cloud service company and the client organization pays them a fee to use it.
  2. Software as a Service (SaaS): With Software as a Service, service providers make their applications accessible to customers through an internet. The features themselves are stored online and customers only need to connect to use them.
  3. Platform as a Service (PaaS): With Platform as a Service, resources from personal computers can be shared via the Internet. Some SaaS companies have taken advantage of this concept and have made their software available over the Internet. These programs are sometimes referred to as cloudware.

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