Cloud Computing: A Simple Description.

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In the most simple terms, cloud computing is taking services (“cloud services”) and moving them outside an organisation’s firewall on shared systems. You access applications and services via the Web, instead of via your local hard drive.

In cloud computing, services delivered and used over the Internet, all being for by the cloud customer. Typically this happens on an “as-needed, pay-per-user” business model. The cloud provider maintains the cloud infrastructure, not the individual cloud customer.

Cloud computing networks are large groups of servers and cloud service providers. They usually take advantage of low-cost computing technology, with specialised connections to spread data-processing chores across them. This shared IT infrastructure has large pools of systems all linked together. Cloud providers often use virtualisation techniques to maximise the power of cloud computing.

Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product. This allows shared resources. Software and information pass to computers and other devices as a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network (typically the Internet). Clouds are classified as public, private or hybrid.

What are the advantages of The Cloud?

These are many and varied but here is a general list of the accepted benefits:

  • Companies need only pay for the storage they actually use, typically an average of consumption during a month. This does not mean that cloud storage is less expensive, only that it incurs operating expenses rather than capital expenses.
  • Businesses using cloud storage can cut their energy consumption by up to 70% making them a more green business. Also the vendors deal with higher levels of energy and making them better equipped to manage it – keeping costs down.
  • Organisations can choose between off-premises and on-premises cloud storage options, or a mixture of the two options, depending on relevant criteria complementary to initial direct cost savings potential; for instance, continuity of operations, disaster recovery, security, and records retention laws, regulations, and policies.
  • Storage availability and data protection are intrinsic to object storage architecture. So, depending on the application, the additional technology, effort and cost to add availability and protection can be eliminated.
  • Storage maintenance tasks, such as purchasing additional storage capacity, are offloaded to the responsibility of a service provider.
  • Cloud storage provides users with immediate access to a broad range of resources and applications hosted in the infrastructure of another organisation via a web service interface.
  • Cloud storage can be used for copying virtual machine images from the cloud to on-premises locations. Or to import a virtual machine image from an on-premises location to the cloud image library. In addition, cloud storage permits the movement of virtual machine images between user accounts or between data centres.
  • Cloud storage affords the ability for use as natural disaster proof backup. Normally there are 2 or 3 different backup servers located in different places.

Why use The Cloud?

Many businesses large and small use cloud computing today instead of traditional on-site alternatives. There are a number of reasons why businesses use cloud computing is so widely today:

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  • Reduction of costs – unlike on-site hosting the price of deploying applications in the cloud can be less due to lower hardware costs from more effective use of physical resources.
  • Universal access – cloud computing can allow remotely located employees to access applications and work via the internet.
  • Up to date software – a cloud provider will also be able to upgrade software keeping in mind feedback from previous software releases.
  • Choice of applications. This allows flexibility for cloud users to experiment and choose the best option for their needs. Cloud computing also allows a business to use, access and pay only for what they use, with a fast implementation time.
  • Potential to be greener and more economical – the average amount of energy needed for a computational action carried out in the cloud is far less than the average amount for an on-site deployment. This is because different organisations can share the same physical resources securely, leading to more efficient use of the shared resources.
  • Flexibility – cloud computing allows users to switch applications easily and rapidly, using the one that suits their needs best. However, migrating data between applications can be an issue.
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