Cloud computing is a basic term for something that includes delivering a hosted service over the Internet. These internet services are generally separated into three main categories: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). So, the term cloud computing was started by the cloud symbol that is frequently used to symbolize the Internet in diagrams and flowcharts.
A typical cloud service has three very different characteristics that separate it from the more traditional kind of hosting. This cloud computing is sold on a demand basis, usually per minute or by the hour; it is sort of elastic. The user can have as little or as much of the service as they what to have at any specific time; and this service is handled by the provider.
So, the consumer will have to get nothing, they just need to have their own personal computer and Internet access. Dramatic changes in the virtualization and distributed computing, as well as much improved access to high-speed Internet plus a weak economy, has accelerated the interest in cloud computing.
A cloud is able to be set up as public or private. A public cloud can sell services to any consumer on the Internet. Presently, Amazon Web Services is the biggest public cloud provider. A private cloud is more of a proprietary company or it could be a data center that will supply cloud hosted services to a small group or a smaller number of people.
When the service provider uses the public cloud resources to build their private cloud, the outcome is called a virtual private cloud. Whether public or private, the main goal of cloud computing is now to provide an easier and more scalable access to computing resources and to IT services.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service like what Amazon Web Services provides is a virtual server that starts, stops, accesses and configures their virtual servers and storage. Cloud computing gives a company the ability to pay only for as much capacity as needed for their business, and the ability to bring more online as soon as it is needed. Since this is a pay-for-what-you-use version like the way we use electricity, fuel and water, it is sometimes described as utility computing.
Platform-as-a-service in the cloud is characterized as a set of product and software development tools that is to be hosted on the provider’s infrastructure. Developers will create various applications or operations on the provider’s platform over the Internet. PaaS providers may also use APIs, a website portal or some other gateway software that is installed on the customer’s computer.
Force.com, an offshoot of Salesforce.com and GoogleApps are examples of PaaS cloud computing. Developers should know that for now there are no standards for interoperability or data portability in a cloud. So, certain providers do not allow any software that is created by their customers to be removed from the provider’s platform.
In a software-as-a-service cloud computing model, the provider will supply the hardware infrastructure and the software product. They will interact with the users through a front-end portal. SaaS is currently a huge market. Services can be anything from a Web-based email to database processing and inventory control. Since the service provider will host both the application and the data, the user is then free to use the service from anywhere.
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To read more about the cloud visit Cloud Computing on Webopedia.