cloud-computing 101

Cloud Computing 101

Cloud computing is far from a new concept as web-based email services have been operating in a "cloud" environment for years, but it is believed to be the next step in the evolution of the internet as more and more companies are exploring the opportunities cloud computing. With new ideas and advancements in technology, converting to the "cloud" system can give SME's the advantage they need to compete with larger, better financed corporations.

The idea behind cloud computing is that it provides a service instead of a product. Acting as an alternative to traditional hosting systems, it is a web based service that hosts software and data and stores information on a massive offsite server. This can be broken down into three different components: software-as-a-service (SaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). The user can choose how many services they wish to use and all they need is a computer and access to the internet to retrieve stored data.

Clouds can be private or public. Public clouds such as Google and Amazon are available to any internet user where as private clouds are services restricted to the use of only a certain number of people. An example of a public cloud and how it works is Gmail. It can be accessed anywhere with the internet and emails, contacts and data are all stored within Google's "cloud" as opposed to an individual computer system.

Cloud computing has many differences from traditional hosting systems but can be identified by a couple key characteristics. It works on a supply and demand system, meaning the user can utilize as much or as little of the service as necessary and will be charged accordingly. It is also considered an elastic service because the user can scale up or down their usage at any time without expensive upgrades to hardware or software. Another distinct characteristic of cloud computing is that all the programs are run from a separate machine, managed by the provider so all the user needs on their personal computer is a program that provides an internet connection.

One of the biggest advantages to this type of hosting system is the increased flexibility. It allows access to information from any device with an internet connection and the amount of the service used is based solely on what is required. This flexibility in turn saves money. The billing is set up similar to the way one is charged for water or electricity. It is paid on an ongoing basis, based on usage. With the service provider hosting all the information that would normally be saved to a personal computer or internal server, more data can be saved because of the enormous capabilities of the "cloud". The system is also highly automated so it eliminates the need for frequent software updates or downloads.

Cloud computing is relatively new to the world of business so naturally there are reservations about the risks of switching over to this system. Depending on how you view it, security can either be an advantage or a disadvantage to this system. Storing information online ensures that it can never be lost or destroyed, but on the flip side there are concerns about security breaches. Questions as to who has access to this information and how well it is protected, being stored on the web, have arisen.

The other possible downside of the cloud computing system is what would happen if the user were to lose or not have access to their internet connection thus making all their files and data unavailable.

For more information on Cloud Computing, do the Google and you'll have all the information you need!

Christine Dubyts  |
Christine Dubyts is crazy about marketing and helping businesses stay in business, grow and prosper. As a fempreneur she has a special interest in working with other women business owners with their marketing and business growth efforts.