It’s Not a Cloud – It’s a Data Center!
You have likely heard of, or seen it on TV commercials, cloud computing. But what is “The Cloud?” Is it really a magical fluffy cloud up in the sky? Obviously not; cloud computing refers to the use and access of information, software applications, and so on using the internet. The cloud is simply a series of data centers full of powerful computer servers and equipment that take software and data storage away from your desktop and puts it in one central location, hence the name “The Cloud”. At its most basic, the cloud is just a bunch of computers in a network with a fancy name.
Cloud computing is a fast growing sector of our economy. In fact, according to some researches, annual spending by companies on cloud computing is expected to grow to $227 billion by 2020, from an estimated $18.6 billion last year (MSNMoney, 2013). The cloud is faster, half the cost and in some occasions you can pay as you go. Growing as you grow and shrinking as you shrink, can be exceptionally efficient.
Today, your personal desktop computer holds all your software programs and stores all your data on its hard drive. The majority of things are done on the client side. If your hard drive dies and you didn’t have a backup, poof, there goes all your data. For businesses, the PC may be connected to a server that provides backup and storage and is often located on-site. However, performance may degrade over time and it’ll require constant upgrades.
With cloud computing, businesses or individuals can use the internet to access software and store data on remote servers located in data centers that can be many miles away.
Cloud Computing Delivery Models
There are three fundamental models with regard to the way cloud computing services are delivered: infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS).
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is the most basic model; it allows users to manage processing, storage, networks, and other computing resources, directly, so that they can deploy and run operating systems. In this model, the cloud service providers only manage physical cloud infrastructure like physical servers and network, and provide these services most often by using virtualization. Service providers create pools of servers within the cloud that can support large numbers of virtual machines and the ability to scale services up and down according to customers’ requirements. The users have maximum control on the infrastructure as if they own these physical servers and network.
The second model, Platform as a Service (PaaS) allows users to deploy their own applications on the provider’s cloud infrastructure using the provider’s environment, which includes operating systems, programming language execution environments, databases, and web servers. In this model, cloud computing providers manage everything except the applications in the cloud infrastructure. This cloud computing delivery model is directly targeted for web and software developers.
The third model, Software as a Service (SaaS) allows the users to use the cloud computing providers’ applications through a thin client interface, the most common one being the web browser. In the SaaS model, the cloud computing providers manage everything in the cloud infrastructure, including physical servers, networks, operating systems and applications. This cloud computing model is directly targeted for general end users who can directly run applications on the clouds and do not need.