Cloud computing demystified
Cloud computing is the utilization of software or hardware through the internet. The software or hardware is housed at an external company’s server/site; as opposed to software/ hardware on your computer or business establishment. Neither software nor hardware has to be purchased, installed or maintained. Think about it as leasing a part of a server hardware or software application for a fraction of the price and without the headache of setup and maintenance.
With a fast enough internet connection, you will be able to use cloud computing seamlessly. Cloud computing is broken down into 3 category types: Infrastructure as-a-service (e.g. data center, web hosting, network equipment), Platform as-a-service (e.g. operating systems and databases) and Software as-a-service (e.g. software applications you use on a daily or continual basis like a word processor or spreadsheet program).
The term “cloud” is used as a metaphor for the Internet, based on the cloud drawing used in the past to represent the telephone network, and later to depict the Internet in computer network diagrams…. — Wikipedia
For example, we may utilize the Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) aspect of cloud computing through web hosting i.e. building your webpages for the world to see, and Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) cloud computing when someone uses Salesforce.com (a tool for companies to track, organize and communicate with potential/ current customers).
An example of Software as-a-service (SaaS) within cloud computing would be in a word processing scenario. You have the option to purchase Microsoft Word and install it on your computer or use Google Docs (on the internet) to type it. Utilizing Google Docs (a cloud computing service), allows you to log into your created account (through your internet browser), type your document, save it on their servers and access it from any internet ready computer.
You may be already using a cloud computing service with free email providers on the internet like Google Mail, Yahoo Mail or Microsoft’s Hotmail. Other examples of cloud computing may include online data backup/ storage, project collaboration (e.g. Basecamp or Zoho), accounting (e.g. Quickbooks online), spreadsheets/ word processing (e.g. Google Docs) and databasing (e.g. Zoho Creator).
The video below explains a section of cloud computing.
What are the main advantages of using Cloud computing?
1) Ease of use and the convenience of accessing the service 24/7 anywhere and everywhere on a computer with an internet connection
2) The lower costs, especially for individuals and small businesses. Cloud computing is much cheaper than investing on actual hardware and software. Most cloud computing services charge you a minimal monthly fee per user/company which can save money as compared to the cost of hardware/ software purchase, installation and maintaining it. In some cases, you can use cloud computing for free! With Cloud computing, sophisticated technology is no longer out of reach for smaller businesses.
3) Easy collaboration; you don’t need to work together in the same building or office, everyone could be miles apart and still work together using the same software/ hardware.
… And the disadvantages?
The glaring disadvantage is that if you don’t have a reliable enough internet connection (or none at all), your documents or the services are inaccessible.
There are inherent risks and privacy/security implications associated with Cloud computing. Understand those risks and implications to determine whether this is a good fit for you and your business. Questions you should ask are “How reliable is the company you are using as a cloud service provider?”, “What is their up-time guarantee?” and “What are their security measures in protecting your data?” Moving to a cloud based service is a big decision that should not be taken lightly.
Here is a video that explains how it all works. It’s humorous, but it does get the point across.
A cloud computing demonstration.
PC Ninja uses Cloud computing for several expects of our systems – the ease of use and accessibility to certain parts of our systems while on the move makes it invaluable. If you need help on further understanding this topic and how it may potentially fit you, contact us. We will be happy to help you put the pieces of puzzles together on *working with Clouds*.
List of free cloud services:
Alternatives to Microsoft Office
Email (alternatives to Microsoft Outlook)
- Windows Live Mail (replacement to Microsoft Outlook Express)
- Pegasus Mail
- Opera Mail
- Mozilla SeaMonkey
- Cobian (to be installed on your computer)
To do lists
Online file storage
*Cloud computing image courtesy of Brian Keith May.