Cloud computing is a topic that many find confusing. It isn’t, though, as confusing as it sounds. In fact, most of those who claim not to understand the subject are part of the majority that use it daily.
In basic terms, cloud computing is the phrase used to describe different scenarios in which computing resource is delivered as a service over a network connection (usually, this is the internet). Cloud computing is therefore a type of computing that relies on sharing a pool of physical and/or virtual resources, rather than deploying local or personal hardware and software. It is somewhat synonymous with the term ‘utility computing’ as users are able to tap into a supply of computing resource rather than manage the equipment needed to generate it themselves; much in the same way as a consumer tapping into the national electricity supply, instead of running their own generator.
A public cloud, for example, is a cloud in which services and infrastructure are hosted off-site by a cloud provider, shared across their client base and accessed by these clients via public networks such as the internet.
Public clouds offer great economies of scale and redundancy but are more vulnerable than private cloud setups due their high levels of accessibility.
A public or private cloud offering
All infrastructure software licensing
Application(s) high availability of 99.9%
Development, test and production application environments
Infrastructure maintenance including installation, patch management and malware protection
System monitoring, notifications, etc.
Database maintenance, back-up, and retention services
One of the key characteristics of cloud computing is the flexibility that it offers and one of the ways that flexibility is offered is through scalability. This refers to the ability of a system to adapt and scale to changes in workload.
Provision and Deprovision
Cloud technology allows for the automatic provision and deprovision of resource as and when it is necessary, thus ensuring that the level of resource available is as closely matched to current demand as possible. This is a defining characteristic that differentiates it from other computing models where resource is delivered in blocks (e.g., individual servers, downloaded software applications), usually with fixed capacities and upfront costs. With cloud computing, the end user usually pays only for the resource they use and so avoids the inefficiencies and expense of any unused capacity.