A High-Level Look at Cloud Computing

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A High-Level Look at Cloud Computing

Cloud computing has become mainstream over the past several years. Not only does the world work by using applications that reside in the cloud, we also store our own photos, music and data on the cloud. That begs the question: what is the cloud anyway?

The cloud is basically a computing platform accessible over the Internet. If data is in the cloud, it resides on a server and is accessible through an online portal. Cloud computing originally emerged as a way to help large-scale IT organizations store, manage, and process their data without having to continually invest in new hardware to support an ever-growing amount of information. The organizations can rent computing power and storage in the cloud and pay exactly for how much they use.

The advent of an increasingly mobile workforce has now made cloud computing a necessity for doing business in the modern world. Workers may access a private cloud that is available through online access to data that is either housed at the company or with a cloud-based service provider. In addition to private clouds, there are also public, community and hybrid clouds.

Cloud Computing for Business

According to global consulting firm McKinsey & Company, over 80 percent of large companies in North America are interested in, or are already using, cloud computing services. The market is estimated at close to $1 billion per year.

There are three types of services that businesses can procure and implement within the cloud. These include:

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

This model requires the business to subscribe to applications that can be accessed online. For example, many companies have migrated to Google for their e-mail, calendaring, file storage, chat, and video conferencing needs. The ease of accessibility across a wide employee population is an attribute of all successful SaaS providers.

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

PaaS provides companies with an infrastructure on which they can develop, test and manage customized cloud-based apps, whether they are for internal company use or will be ultimately offered via the Internet. As with SaaS, PaaS is typically offered on a subscription basis.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

IaaS is just what it sounds like, a way for companies to procure a computing infrastructure without having to invest in having hardware onsite. Instead, businesses can purchase virtual server space, networking resources, bandwidth and more. The service is fully scaleable, allowing for fluctuating computing needs in terms of adding volume during peak times or in support of company growth.

Advantages of Cloud Computing

The primary benefit to businesses using or considering cloud computing service is that of reduced cost. Capital expenditures are avoided as there is no need to upgrade existing hardware or purchase additional equipment. Operating expenses go down with a decreased need for maintenance. Companies may also realize a cost savings in term of their energy bills when they move from a traditional data center model to the cloud.

Flexibility is another huge operating advantage for companies using cloud-based services. The cloud allows for greater agility in response to changing needs. Projects can easily be shifted to other teams to meet priorities, and resources can be scaled up or down depending on the volume of work that is underway.

The final consideration is that of efficiency. Using cloud-based services takes many time-consuming tasks off the table. The company is better able to focus the efforts of its information technology workforce on its core competencies, thus adding value for internal and external customers alike.

 

Sources:

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2372163,00.asp http://www.interoute.com/what-saas http://www.interoute.com/what-paas http://www.interoute.com/what-iaas http://www.cisco.com/web/strategy/docs/gov/CiscoCloudComputing_WP.pdf
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