What’s that up in the sky? It’s a bird! No, it’s a plane! No, It’s a ….Cloud!!! Yes a Cloud. Cloud Computing – it’s the latest buzzword these days.
Cloud Computing in layman’s terms, is a set of technologies that enable you in real-time, to access data, software and hardware from any device over the internet.
Lately, everything seems to be going “In the Cloud”. We have email, storage, music, photos, applications and many others.
Email in the Cloud allows you to access your email from any computer. You may be familiar with Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail email accounts. However, many companies now seem to be moving off of the Microsoft Outlook/Exchange platform and moving their email to providers such as Microsoft 365 and Google’s GSuite.
Cloud storage options give you Gigabytes of storage for free or for a subscription. Examples of free cloud storage providers include Dropbox, GDrive, Box.net, Windows SkyDrive and MemoPal. They all offer you the ability to store files on their servers and be able to access them from any computer with internet. You no longer have to run between computers with your flash drive to transfer files.
For storing your photos in the Cloud you have Flikr, Picasa and others.
Music in the cloud is being actively worked on by Apple, Google, Amazon. They allow you to store your music remotely in the cloud and access it wherever you go.
Even applications are moving to the cloud. Google Docs and Apps not only provide email and storage but also provide the ability create documents, spreadsheets, collaborate etc. Microsoft is into the cloud foray by offering Microsoft 365, which combines online editions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, with Exchange for mobile calendar and e-mail access.
Categories of Cloud Computing
There are three main categories of Cloud Computing.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
The examples given above all fall into the category of Software as a Service (SaaS) where applications are delivered over the internet.
The two other categories of Cloud Computing are:
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
where Computer Architecture such as databases, storage devices, operating systems are delivered over the internet. For IT departments, this type of Cloud Computing is beneficial as they can either replace or supplement their servers using outsourced resources.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
The model whereby application middle-ware and build tools are open to developers. Example’s are Google’s App engine.
Benefits of Cloud Computing
You may be wondering why is there such a great move now to Cloud Computing. There are several reasons for this:
- Cost Savings – No upfront software/hardware purchase or licensing cost
- Automatic Updates – No maintenance or software/hardware upgrading
- Remote Access – Ubiquitous access from any computer
Disadvantages of Cloud Computing
There are however some risks to Cloud Computing:
- Privacy and Security – Data stored on a Cloud Provider’s equipment need to be secured.
- Availability – Susceptible to downtime experienced by Cloud provider
- Connectivity – The need to be connected to the internet to access required data, software or hardware
So what do you think? Are you packing up shop and moving over to “The Cloud”?