A QUICK GUIDE TO CLOUD COMPUTING
Until recently, big companies were practically forced to build their own powerful servers, which were used to store the data for hundreds of thousands of customers, billions of financial transactions, and so on. These days, cloud service providers are the ones who build huge computer farms, install virtualization software on their servers, and then allow customers to choose the desired computing resources. With cloud computing, a huge computing power is made available to businesses of all sizes and to individuals over the Internet.
It's a win-win situation, because clients don't need to spend money hiring in-house server administrators, waste their precious time trying to update and/or patch the servers' operating systems themselves, and so on. This lowers infrastructure costs and leads to fewer maintenance-related issues.
Companies who use cloud computing services have access to virtually unlimited storage space for their data. Once that the current storage space limit has been reached, getting access to more space is as simple as dragging a slider on a web interface – any paying a bit more money, of course.
Additionally, cloud providers offer enterprise-level data backup and recovery systems. This means that all the company files are kept safe, and employees will have access to the older versions as well.
People who utilize cloud computing services can do that without having to install complex applications on their PCs; full access to all the supported features is often provided by using a standard web browser interface. And since the software is often run straight from the server, it can be used by any person who has an Internet-enabled device, including those who use smartphones or tablets for their work-related activities.
There are three big categories of cloud computing services:
1. Software as a Service (SaaS).
In this case, the software is hosted in the cloud, and people can get access to it either for free (in case of ad-supported webmail, for example) or by paying a monthly subscription. So, you won't need to purchase expensive software, pay for major upgrades, replace your computer because it can't run newer versions of the applications, and so on; everything is done for you by the service provider.
The SaaS model also helps people and companies save time. Gone are the days when you had to spend a lot of time installing, and then trying to configure a piece of software properly, only to discover that the following application update has messed up all your settings! Whenever a new software release is ready, it is automatically pushed to the cloud, so you will always use the most recent version of the application.
2. Platform as a Service (PaaS).
This type of cloud computing service gives developers a platform which allows them to test and build various applications and services – and do it fast! It's what many coders use to create SaaS applications, for example.
With PaaS, developers can focus on programming, rather that having to build powerful servers, install expensive software development environments on them, etc. Therefore, software engineers who utilize PaaS can minimize time-to-market, because they will also get access to complete IDEs, templates, sample code, and more. This reduces development costs and lowers the pressure on internal company resources.
Many PaaS providers offer flexible integrated development environments, which make it possible to deploy applications for various platforms. It's a very welcome feature, because there are many different mobile devices in use today.
3. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
Developers who use IaaS packages rent server space, bandwidth, I.P. addresses, etc. from cloud providers. The ideal clients are small and medium-sized businesses which want to lower the IT infrastructure costs, because with Infrastructure as a Service, employees don't have to maintain hardware and software, fix broken stuff, etc.
IaaS is scalable both ways; companies can reduce cloud computing costs during slow months, or get access to all the IT resources they need when the business is booming.
As you now know, cloud computing saves people and companies money, helps them work better and faster, provides a high degree of elasticity and offers unmatched reliability.