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These are the physical components of cloud computing. PaaS Platform as a Service. Think of PaaS like an operating system. It turns technological equipment into something you can work with and build on. SaaS Software as a Service.
These are the programs that a user most frequently interacts with. They facilitate the transfer of files and give people a way to edit and save their progress.
On a day to day basis, SaaS helps people make efficient use of cloud computing. Not Such a Dummy Anymore Did you think there was more to it? Cloud Computing is pretty easy to get your head around! Musicians and DJs upload their music, which "followers" can listen to or preview for free through real-time streaming. You can build up a personal collection of tracks you like and access them from any device, anytime, anywhere. The music you listen to stays up in the cloud: in theory, there is only ever one copy of every music file that's uploaded.
Where is the music stored? No-one but Soundcloud needs to know—or care. Most of us use cloud computing all day long without realizing it. When you sit at your PC and type a query into Google, the computer on your desk isn't playing much part in finding the answers you need: it's no more than a messenger.
The words you type are swiftly shuttled over the Net to one of Google's hundreds of thousands of clustered PCs , which dig out your results and send them promptly back to you. When you do a Google search, the real work in finding your answers might be done by a computer sitting in California, Dublin, Tokyo, or Beijing; you don't know—and most likely you don't care! The same applies to Web-based email.
Once upon a time, email was something you could only send and receive using a program running on your PC sometimes called a mail client. But then Web-based services such as Hotmail came along and carried email off into the cloud. Now we're all used to the idea that emails can be stored and processed through a server in some remote part of the world, easily accessible from a Web browser, wherever we happen to be.
Pushing email off into the cloud makes it supremely convenient for busy people, constantly on the move. Preparing documents over the Net is a newer example of cloud computing. Simply log on to a web-based service such as Google Documents and you can create a document, spreadsheet, presentation, or whatever you like using Web-based software.
Instead of typing your words into a program like Microsoft Word or OpenOffice, running on your computer, you're using similar software running on a PC at one of Google's world-wide data centers. Like an email drafted on Hotmail, the document you produce is stored remotely, on a Web server, so you can access it from any Internet-connected computer, anywhere in the world, any time you like.
Do you know where it's stored? Do you care where it's stored? Again, no! Using a Web-based service like this means you're "contracting out" or "outsourcing" some of your computing needs to a company such as Google: they pay the cost of developing the software and keeping it up-to-date and they earn back the money to do this through advertising and other paid-for services. What makes cloud computing different? It's managed "You don't generate your own electricity.
Why generate your own computing? Most importantly, the service you use is provided by someone else and managed on your behalf. If you're using Google Documents, you don't have to worry about buying umpteen licenses for word-processing software or keeping them up-to-date.
Nor do you have to worry about viruses that might affect your computer or about backing up the files you create.
Google does all that for you. One basic principle of cloud computing is that you no longer need to worry how the service you're buying is provided: with Web-based services, you simply concentrate on whatever your job is and leave the problem of providing dependable computing to someone else. It's "on-demand" Cloud services are available on-demand and often bought on a "pay-as-you go" or subscription basis. So you typically buy cloud computing the same way you'd buy electricity, telephone services, or Internet access from a utility company.
Sometimes cloud computing is free or paid-for in other ways Hotmail is subsidized by advertising, for example.
Just like electricity, you can buy as much or as little of a cloud computing service as you need from one day to the next. That's great if your needs vary unpredictably: it means you don't have to buy your own gigantic computer system and risk have it sitting there doing nothing. It's public or private Now we all have PCs on our desks, we're used to having complete control over our computer systems—and complete responsibility for them as well.
Cloud computing changes all that. It comes in two basic flavors, public and private, which are the cloud equivalents of the Internet and Intranets. Web-based email and free services like the ones Google provides are the most familiar examples of public clouds.
The world's biggest online retailer, Amazon, became the world's largest provider of public cloud computing in early When it found it was using only a fraction of its huge, global, computing power, it started renting out its spare capacity over the Net through a new entity called Amazon Web Services AWS.
Private cloud computing works in much the same way but you access the resources you use through secure network connections, much like an Intranet. Companies such as Amazon also let you use their publicly accessible cloud to make your own secure private cloud, known as a Virtual Private Cloud VPC , using virtual private network VPN connections.
Types of cloud computing IT people talk about three different kinds of cloud computing, where different services are being provided for you.
Note that there's a certain amount of vagueness about how these things are defined and some overlap between them. Infrastructure as a Service IaaS means you're buying access to raw computing hardware over the Net, such as servers or storage. Since you buy what you need and pay-as-you-go, this is often referred to as utility computing. Software as a Service SaaS means you use a complete application running on someone else's system.
Web-based email and Google Documents are perhaps the best-known examples. Zoho is another well-known SaaS provider offering a variety of office applications online. Platform as a Service PaaS means you develop applications using Web-based tools so they run on systems software and hardware provided by another company. So, for example, you might develop your own ecommerce website but have the whole thing, including the shopping cart, checkout, and payment mechanism running on a merchant's server.
App Cloud from salesforce. Advantages and disadvantages of cloud computing What's good and bad about cloud computing? Advantages The pros of cloud computing are obvious and compelling. If your business is selling books or repairing shoes, why get involved in the nitty gritty of buying and maintaining a complex computer system?
If you run an insurance office, do you really want your sales agents wasting time running anti-virus software, upgrading word-processors, or worrying about hard-drive crashes?
Do you really want them cluttering your expensive computers with their personal emails, illegally shared MP3 files, and naughty YouTube videos—when you could leave that responsibility to someone else?
Cloud computing allows you to buy in only the services you want, when you want them, cutting the upfront capital costs of computers and peripherals. You avoid equipment going out of date and other familiar IT problems like ensuring system security and reliability. You can add extra services or take them away at a moment's notice as your business needs change. It's really quick and easy to add new applications or services to your business without waiting weeks or months for the new computer and its software to arrive.
Drawbacks Photos: Cloud computing: forward to the future In the s, the Apple ][ became the world's first, bestselling small business computer thanks to a killer-application called VisiCalc, the first widely available computer spreadsheet. It revolutionized business computing, giving middle managers the power to crunch business data on their desktops, all by themselves, without relying on slow, centralized computer departments or bought-in data processing.
Critics are concerned that cloud computing could be disempowering—a throwback to the s world of centralized, proprietary computing. Instant convenience comes at a price. Instead of purchasing computers and software, cloud computing means you buy services, so one-off, upfront capital costs become ongoing operating costs instead. That might work out much more expensive in the long-term. If you're using software as a service for example, writing a report using an online word processor or sending emails through webmail , you need a reliable, high-speed, broadband Internet connection functioning the whole time you're working.
That's something we take for granted in countries such as the United States, but it's much more of an issue in developing countries or rural areas where broadband is unavailable.
If you're buying in services, you can buy only what people are providing, so you may be restricted to off-the-peg solutions rather than ones that precisely meet your needs. Not only that, but you're completely at the mercy of your suppliers if they suddenly decide to stop supporting a product you've come to depend on. Google, for example, upset many users when it announced in September that its cloud-based Google Docs would drop support for old but de facto standard Microsoft Office file formats such as.
XLS, and. PPT, giving a mere one week's notice of the change—although, after public pressure, it later extended the deadline by three months. Critics charge that cloud-computing is a return to the bad-old days of mainframes and proprietary systems, where businesses are locked into unsuitable, long-term arrangements with big, inflexible companies.
Instead of using "generative" systems ones that can be added to and extended in exciting ways the developers never envisaged , you're effectively using "dumb terminals" whose uses are severely limited by the supplier.
Good for convenience and security, perhaps, but what will you lose in flexibility? And is such a restrained approach good for the future of the Internet as a whole? Think of cloud computing as renting a fully serviced flat instead of buying a home of your own. Clearly there are advantages in terms of convenience, but there are huge restrictions on how you can live and what you can alter.
Will it automatically work out better and cheaper for you in the long term? In summary Lower upfront costs and reduced infrastructure costs. Easy to grow your applications. Scale up or down at short notice. Only pay for what you use. Everything managed under SLAs. Overall environmental benefit lower carbon emissions of many users efficiently sharing large systems. But see the box below.
Cons Higher ongoing operating costs. Could cloud systems work out more expensive? Greater dependency on service providers. Can you get problems resolved quickly, even with SLAs? Risk of being locked into proprietary or vendor-recommended systems? How easily can you migrate to another system or service provider if you need to? What happens if your supplier suddenly decides to stop supporting a product or system you've come to depend on? Potential privacy and security risks of putting valuable data on someone else's system in an unknown location?
If lots of people migrate to the cloud, where they're no longer free to develop neat and whizzy new things, what does that imply for the future development of the Internet? Dependency on a reliable Internet connection. Cloud computing trends We've just had a quick and simple sketch of cloud computing—and if that's all you need, you can stop reading now. This section fills in some of the details, asks some deeper questions, looks at current trends, such as the shift to mobile devices, and explores challenging issues like privacy and security.
Growth The figures speak for themselves: in every IT survey, news report, and pundit's op-ed, cloud computing seems the only show in town. Back in , over a decade ago, the Pew Internet project reported that 69 percent of all Internet users had "either stored data online or used a web-based software application" in other words, by their definition, used some form of cloud computing.
The Microsoft Cloud isn't far behind. A matter of definitions So the numbers keep on creeping up and it's an exciting trend, to be sure. But there's one important word of caution: how you measure and forecast something as vague as "the cloud" depends on how you define it: if the definition keeps expanding, perhaps that's one reason why the market keeps expanding too?
Way back in the s, no-one described Yahoo!
Mail or Hotmail as examples of cloud computing, Geocities was simply a community of amateur websites, and Amazon and eBay were just new ways of finding and buying old stuff. In , in its breathless eagerness to talk up cloud computing, the Pew Internet project had rounded up every web-based service and application it could think of and fired it to the sky.
Wordpress and Twitter were examples of cloud blogging, Google Docs and Gmail were cloud-based, and suddenly so too were Yahoo! Mail, buying things from eBay and Amazon, and even bizarrely RSS feeds which date back to the late s. Using "the cloud" as a loose synonym for "the Web," then expressing astonishment that it's growing so fast seems tautologous at best, since we know the Internet and Web have grown simply by virtue of having more connected users and more especially more mobile devices.