Cloud computing gets its name from the cloud symbol that is normally used in network diagrams to represent the Internet. Cloud computing allows application software to be operated using internet-enabled devices. Clouds can be classified as public, private, and hybrid.
Most of you are very familiar with the way conventional computing works, you have a standalone computer with the programs that you purchased and use regularly installed on the hard drive. You normally store all you documents, pictures, music and videos on the computers internal hard drive, or on an external hard drive that you connect directly to your computer. You may also be familiar with the way that a business computer network works. You have some type of central server housed at your business location that more than one computer connects to in order to access shared programs and data.
Cloud computing relies on sharing of resources to achieve coherence and economies of scale, similar to a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network. At the foundation of cloud computing is the broader concept of converged infrastructure and shared services. Cloud computing, or in simpler shorthand just "the cloud", also focuses on maximizing the effectiveness of the shared resources. Cloud resources are usually not only shared by multiple users but are also dynamically reallocated per demand. This can work for allocating resources to users. For example, a cloud computer facility that serves European users during European business hours with a specific application (e.g., email) may reallocate the same resources to serve North American users during North America's business hours with a different application (e.g., a web server). This approach should maximize the use of computing power thus reducing environmental damage as well since less power, air conditioning, rack space, etc. are required for a variety of functions. With cloud computing, multiple users can access a single server to retrieve and update their data without purchasing licenses for different applications. Although these two scenarios are somewhat different, they are the same in that the person who owns the standalone computer or computer network, had to purchase or lease the equipment and must maintain it at there expense.
Cloud computing takes a different approach, think of it as renting all the computing power, programs and storage space you need. With cloud computing the end user merely has to pay the monthly fee to be able to connect to the resources that they need to use through the Internet. You normally don’t have to worry too much about the speed of the computer that you are using to connect to the Cloud because all the processing is done by the Servers that you are connecting to. You also do not need to worry about backing up your data as the data you are using is typically backed up by the company that you are using in the Cloud.
This all sounds great right? But there are some down sides to cloud computing. What if you do not have access to the Internet because your connection is down or you are not in an area that has Wifi or Cellular access? You would not be able to access your cloud applications or data. Also not all programs are available for access in the cloud, and some programs just will not work well in the cloud because they require very fast dedicated computers and extremely fast networks. And of course we all know some people are just not comfortable putting personal or company data out on the Internet where they do not have complete control over that data and the security of it.
This concept has been around for quit awhile, and I am sure some of you have already used some of these type of services, maybe without knowing it and without the fancy name.