What Is the Cloud?

While cloud computing is a new term, it is not a new concept and is actually a grown-up and more mature version of what used to be known as grid computing. No matter what you call it, the cloud is a way of moving services, infrastructure, and platforms into the new environment. Ideally, this move makes the growth and management of software and other technology easier and more cost effective than before.

 

So what is the cloud exactly, and how can we define it in a way that makes sense? In general, we can break down the list of characteristics of a cloud computing solution into something quite simple and succinct:

On-Demand Self-Service Users of cloud services have the capability to tweak, customize, and configure services as needed to meet their needs both now and in the future.

Broad Network Access Resources can be accessed from any device anywhere with any connection. The cloud is designed to be accessed from anywhere.

Resource Pooling The provider’s computing resources are pooled to serve multiple consumers using a multi-tenant model, with different physical and virtual resources dynamically assigned and reassigned according to consumer demand.

Rapid Elasticity Capabilities within the cloud have the ability to be expanded and adjusted to add more performance, space, or capability to the system, allowing the user to grow as needed without having to worry about the process. In fact, to them it may seem like they have unlimited space and resources.

Measured Service Cloud systems automatically control and optimize resource use by leveraging a metering capability at some level of abstraction appropriate to the type of service. Resource usage can be monitored, controlled, and reported, providing transparency for the provider and consumer.

The most common areas where people have encountered cloud technologies are things like email and the widespread use of services such as Google Docs, which allows collaboration with multiple users across the Internet. The average Joe doesn’t need to have a dedicated desktop mail client to store all their email and attachments but instead can store everything in the cloud and use a web browser for access. Office suites such as Google Apps and Office 365 have also entered the cloud service world and are used by numerous consumers and businesses. We should also mention that services such as Dropbox and OneDrive are also popular cloud storage options that both the consumer and the workplace should be aware of. Microsoft and other companies are also experimenting with moving programs to the cloud to make them more affordable and more accessible to computer and Internet users. These include technologies such as Exchange, Active Directory, SharePoint, and more. With the ubiquitous support for cloud technologies by both service providers and the consumer, it is no doubt that they will be around a long time. Consumers will continue to use the services offered by the cloud, and businesses will seek to move the cost and responsibility to a third party in order to simplify this responsibility and lower the expense.

 

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