Cloud Computing is a form of computing in which all applications, information and resources are managed in a virtual environment. The term cloud computing, specifically the use of the word “cloud”, it meant to represent the nature and structure of cloud computing. Cloud computing involves virtual hosted environments allowing users to connect to the services being hosted over the internet. this website
Google Apps is a great example of cloud computing as companies to no longer require the need for installed word processing software, in house email servers, multiple IT personnel and many more cost saving advantages. Google Apps allows companies to access all services including email, website hosting, calendar, document editing/creation and much more directly through a web browser. The advantage to using Google Apps is increased productivity, security, lower IT costs and data backup. Microsoft has also entered the cloud computing realm by integrating its current software such as Word and outlook with online storage and easy accessibility.
Many hosting companies and even a few internet retailers are beginning to offer cloud hosting services. Rackspace, an internet hosting company, has begun to offer cloud hosting for clients who wish to have personal cloud applications in an environment controlled by them. Amazon.com is also offering cloud hosting services due to its large infrastructure and internet bandwidth capabilities. Most cloud hosting companies offer easy setup and creation of private cloud hosting with simple user interfaces. Most cloud hosting companies have per usage pricing instead of flat rate pricing. Users simply pay for the amount of processing, bandwidth and storage that they use. This pricing method benefits both cloud hosting companies and end users.
There are three main variations of cloud computing:
IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service): The need for expensive equipment is outsourced. Instead of companies purchasing expensive equipment including servers, hard drives and networking equipment, they would instead be used over the Cloud and hosted by a cloud computing company. The business entity would use the virtual equipment on a cost usage basis.
PaaS (Platform as a Service): Applications are run off of cloud servers hosted virtually. A small company selling cloud applications to businesses will use PaaS to “host” the sold cloud applications and have them run off of the cloud servers instead of having them run off of in-house servers. The company selling the applications pays for the services based on a processor/bandwidth basis.
SaaS (Software as a Service): Cloud applications are paid for on a per use basis and not sold in bulk licenses. This allows small companies to purchase a la carte licensing for applications they may use infrequently. Instead of purchasing 15 licenses a company can instead only pay when the software is used and removing the limits on how many machines the software can be installed on.
IaaS, Infrastructure as a Service, is currently the most widely used cloud service. IaaS allows small, medium and even large companies to cut costs considerably. Companies can completely remove the need for expensive network equipment, expensive bandwidth to support their network, expensive network storage equipment and much more. A company only pays for what they use from the cloud infrastructure thus eliminating the capital lost due to lack of usage from in house network equipment, bandwidth, etc. As IaaS gains more popularity and more cloud hosting companies emerge, costs can potentially drop even more due to oversupply and increased cloud hosting competition.
PaaS, Platform as a Service, is second to IaaS in terms of popularity and consumer adoption. A small company selling cloud applications and/or cloud services does not have to host the applications but can instead have them hosted elsewhere. Platform as a Service saves the company selling the applications/services as expensive network equipment, bandwidth and the need for additional IT personnel are instead outsourced to a cloud hosting company. This allows cloud application companies and even small developers the ability to enter the cloud application market without the need for considerable startup capital. PaaS has the potential to overtake IaaS in terms of consumer adoption and overall use.
SaaS, Software as a Service, is the least used cloud hosting service. It is a win-win for both consumers and the software companies. Consumers save money as heavily priced software licenses are no longer necessary due to the fact that consumers are only paying when the software is used. The need to purchase software in bulk is removed and every consumers’ software needs are custom suited based on usage. This is also a win for cloud software companies as it will attract more consumers due to the custom pricing model. Consumers who could not afford the high cost of bulk software licenses will now be able to purchase based directly on their software usage needs. SaaS has the potential to completely revolutionize the software industry and may even curb software piracy.