Cloud computing has revolutionized the way technology is used to share information and resources to achieve coherence, relevance and economy of scale. These three factors are hugely important today when individuals and businesses require being in the forefront of their activities and achieving profits and revenues while reigning in expenditure.
This kind of computing is the method or model of internet-based computing that provides on demand, processing capabilities as well as data to computers and other devices on a network through a shared pool of resources such as applications and services, networks, servers and storage devices, which can be requested and used with minimal effort. Cloud computing enables businesses and users with capabilities to store and process vital data in third-party data centers.
In simple terms, cloud computing means the storing and accessing of information and applications over the internet instead of leaving them on local hard drives or in-house servers. The information accessed is not ‘physically close’ and the metaphor ‘cloud’ relates back to the days of flowcharts, graphs and presentations where the server infrastructure was depicted as a ‘puffy, white cumulus cloud’ that stores and doles out information.
Cloud computing or ‘the cloud’ as it is commonly known enables a ‘pay as you go model’. The availability of low-cost computers and devices, high-capacity networks and storage devices as well as complementing factors like service-oriented architecture, adoption of hardware visualization and utility computing have contributed to the success of cloud computing in a very big way.
Cloud Computing Architecture
The five specific factors that define cloud computing are:
• Broad network access
• On-demand self service
• Resource pooling
• Measured service
• Rapid elasticity or expansion
Broadly, that sums the essence of this kind of computing. However, there are several loosely coupled components and sub-components that are essential to make computing work. These are divided into two sections – the front end and the back end which connect to each other via the Internet.
The Front End is the physically visible interfaces that clients encounter when using their web-enabled devices. Not all computing systems use the same interfaces.
The Back End comprises all the resources that deliver cloud computing services. These are essentially virtual machines, data storage facilities, security mechanisms etc. that together provide a deployment model and are responsible for providing the ‘cloud’ part of the computing service.
Exponents of computing are quick to praise it citing the many advantages and benefits it provides. Among the many benefits, the prime ones are:
• Enables scale up and scale down of computing needs
• Enables businesses to avoid infrastructure costs
• Allows companies to get applications running quicker and faster
• Improves manageability and adjustability of IT resources to meet fluctuating business demands
• Reduces maintenance
The high demand for cloud computing is further enhanced by the advantages of cheap service costs, high computing power, higher performance and scalability and easier accessibility and availability.