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What is Cloud Computing?


The Cloud - this phrase could have a lot of meanings depending on your area of perspective and your educational background. Cloud to a layman; is a part of the earth above the ground or sea level, to the English language student; it is a state or cause of gloom, trouble or worry, to a science student; it is a visible mass of liquid droplets or frozen crystals made of water or various chemicals suspended in the atmosphere above a planetary body, in computing world; it means the future of computing. Isn't that amazing?

What is Cloud Computing
Functions of Cloud Computing | Image credit: OSArena.net

Cloud Computing (phrase "The cloud") is an internet-based computing in which large groups of remote servers are networked to allow the centralized data storage, and online access to computer services or resources. Cloud computing is a type of computing that relies on sharing computing resources rather than having local servers or personal devices to handle applications. Cloud computing allows consumers and businesses to use applications without installation and access their personal files at any computer with internet access. 

With cloud computing, both Medium and Small Scale Businesses can use sophisticated applications and other resources without purchasing or installing them locally. The companies rendering cloud computing services (Cloud Computing Providers)- Google, Microsoft, Apple, Oracle etc, provide all the needed resources such as Servers, Applications, Storage facilities, Securities etc for the consumers or businesses. Cloud computing structure allows access to information or resources as long as the electronic device has access to the internet (Web). The beauty of cloud computing is that you can access your information from anywhere as far as you have access to the web.

Origin:

The origin of the term Cloud Computing is unclear. Some believed Google's Eric Schmidt's coined the term at the Search Engine Strategies conference in 2006.  A Technology Review article in 2011 suggested the oldest use of "cloud computing" was at a 1996 meeting of Internet and startup-company executives at Compaq offices in Houston.  A Blogger, programmer and Silicon Valley expert Dave Winer also have a claim for referring to the Internet in a 2001 NYT article as a "cloud" of computers.

The technology is derived from the practice of using drawings of stylized clouds to denote networks in diagrams of computing and communication systems. The term came to popular use in 2008, though the practice of providing remote access to computing functions through networks dates back to the mainframe time-sharing systems of the 1960s and 1970s. It was gradual evolution from a practice in which multiple users were able to connect to the mainframe (Central Server) through terminals (usually keyboard and screen) to access resources, because then the cost of procuring mainframe computers are very high.

In early 2008, Eucalyptus became the first Open-source platform for deploying Private clouds and OpenNebula became the first open-source software for deploying private and hybrid clouds. In July 2010, Rackspace Hosting and NASA jointly launched an open-source cloud-software initiative known as OpenStack. The OpenStack project intended to help organizations offer cloud-computing services running on standard hardware. The early code came from NASA's Nebula platform as well as from Rackspace's Cloud Files platform. IBM (International Business Machine) announced its IBM SmartCloud for smarter planet in March 1, 2011. June 7, 2012 Oracle announced Oracle Cloud, the first platform to offer integrated set of IT solutions.

Cloud Computing Deployment Models:

Private Cloud: Private cloud is cloud infrastructure dedicated to a particular organization. Private clouds allow businesses to host applications in the cloud. This cloud infrastructure is owned and managed by a single organization, it is not shared with any other organization. The infrastructure could be installed and managed internally by the organization or externally by third parties.

Public Cloud: A cloud is called a public cloud when the services are rendered over a network that is open for public use. Public cloud services may be free or offered on a pay-per-usage model. Public cloud providers like Amazon AWS, Microsoft and Google own and operate the infrastructure and offer access over the Internet. With this model, customers have no visibility or control over where the infrastructure is located.

Hybrid cloud: Is the combination of two or more clouds (Private cloud, Public cloud, Community cloud) that remain unique but bound together to offer the benefits of multiple deployment models.

Others cloud deployment models:

- Community cloud

- Multi-cloud

- Inter-cloud

- Distributed cloud

Types of cloud computing services

Software as a Service (SaaS) :- Saas is sometimes referred to as on-demand-service, on this platform consumers are provided with access to Application software and Databases. The software are run and managed by the provider. The service is priced on pay-per-use basis.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) :- compute, storage, networking, and other elements (security, tools) are provided by the provider via public Internet, VPN, or dedicated network connection. Users (Consumers) own and manage operating systems, applications, and information running on the infrastructure and pay by usage.

Platform as a Service (PaaS) :- All software and hardware required to build and operate cloud-based applications are provided by the Service (PaaS) provider via public Internet, VPN, or dedicated network connection. Users pay by use of the platform and control how applications are utilized throughout their life-cycle.

Cloud Computing Standards:

Cloud computing has no fully defined standard in place currently. Each company rendering cloud services defines their own cloud computing technologies and standards. Some cloud computing technologies are based on open-source standards.

Advantages:

- It is highly cost effective

- It aid the Automatic integration of software

- It improves accessibility

- Less personnel training is needed

- It improves flexibility

- It makes streamline processes to be accomplished easily

Disadvantages:

- Not highly flexible

- Possible downtime when there is no internet connection

- Consumers do not have total control over their information

- Security issues - you aren't sure how safe your information is in the cloud

Cloud Computing Providers:

Here are the list of view companies rendering (Providers) cloud computing services;

- Microsoft

- Google Cloud

- Apple iCloud

- IBM Blue Cloud

- GreenQloud

- Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2)

- MongoHQ

- DigitalOcean

- Elastic Host

- EVS Broadcast Equipment

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